The opening QIPCO British Champions Series races were crackers with Saxon Warrior a superb winner of the QIPCO 2000 Guineas on Saturday and Billesdon Brook raising her game to land the QIPCO 1000 Guineas 24 hours later – when three Group 1 winners chased her home.
It goes without saying that the pair will continue to be significant players in the Champions Series – connections of Saxon Warrior are talking of a tilt at the Triple Crown – and those who chased them home should also make their mark.
The two Classics were not the only races to yield Champions Series clues. Here are six other winners over the Bank Holiday weekend to look out for over the months ahead.
Has not quite hit the heights expected of him since finishing runner-up in the Investec Derby last year but the manner in which he pounced from off the pace to land a solid renewal of the Group 2 Mooresbridge Stakes at Naas on Monday suggests it is not too late for him to strike at the highest level.
Aidan O’Brien suggested afterwards that a return to Epsom for the Investec Coronation Cup may be on the cards and that feature looks more open after Enable’s untimely knee injury, which means she will miss the race and not return to action until August.
Defoe went off at 1-2 for the Dunaden Jockey Club Stakes but traded at more than 2-1 in-running on Betfair when it looked like James Doyle had stolen the spoils on Red Verdon.
By the finish, though, Defoe had won by almost four lengths – staying on powerfully. Bar his blip in the William St Leger, Defoe has been pretty much flawless in the past year and he would be an interesting challenger in the QIPCO-sponsored King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, although Roger Varian has warned he will not want very fast ground.
LAH TI DAR:
The daughter of Dubawi, a sister of stablemate So Mi Dar, had looked an exciting recruit when winning on her debut at Newbury and confirmed that with a decisive win in the Tweenhills Pretty Polly Stakes at Newmarket on Sunday.
She was promoted to the general 4-1 favourite for the Investec Oaks and in the past decade Talent and Taghrooda have used the Pretty Polly as a stepping stone to glory at Epsom.
The Michael Dods-trained filly continued her progression by getting up late on in the Longholes Palace House Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday.
She had only a neck to spare over Judicial at the line and it did not look the strongest renewal of the Group 3 contest but she is unlucky not to have won her past six starts and the way she pounces from off the pace makes it hard to determine just how good she is. The King’s Stand at Royal Ascot beckons.
The William Jarvis-trained filly again looked all speed when making all in a deep Listed race over 5f at Naas on Monday, having previously beaten Mab Cross at Bath on her reappearance. She will find the King’s Stand at Royal Ascot a stiffer test but, as a three-year-old, still has time on her side.
The Breeders’ Cup winner was easy to back on her return in the Group 2 Dahlia Stakes at Newmarket on Sunday, when burdened with a 5lb penalty, but those who kept the faith never had a moment’s worry as she breezed home by four lengths.
She’s an imposing filly who should make her presence felt wherever she runs this summer and it would be no surprise if she tried to go one better in the Tattersalls Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket in July. Last year she beat all bar Roly Poly.