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Cheveley Park Stakes – Our Big-Race Preview + Verdict For Saturday’s Group 1

The Cheveley Park Stakes is the first of the Group 1’s for the 2yo’s at Newmarket this weekend, and is for the fillies over 6 furlongs. A race that Aidan O’Brien has won 4 of the last 7 of, but he does potentially lack the star quality in the field this year. William Haggas’s Relief Rally is the star attraction in the race, but she does have plenty of top quality prospects coming from all angles. Can she make it five wins in just six career runs? and cap off her excellent 2yo season with a bang by winning this.

GG editor Jake Russell previews this years race, including identifying some of the key trends for the race. He also runs through the key runners and lively outsiders to focus on, before giving his expert verdict on who he expects to win.

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Last year’s renewal saw Ralph Becketts’s LEZOO stay on strongly to edge out the favourite Meditate and give her trainer a first taste of success in the race:

  • 3 of the last 12 winners were favourites/joint favourites, 9 of the last 12 winners were in the top 3 in the betting.
  • 7 of the last 12 winners won on their last run before the Cheveley Park Stakes, 11 of the last 12 finished in the top 2 on their last run, 9 of the last 12 winners had their last run within the last 41 days.
  • 3 of the last 12 winners had at least 1 previous run at Newmarket, 3 of the last 12 winners had at least 1 previous win at Newmarket.
  • 11 of the last 12 winners had at least 1 previous run over 6 furlongs, 9 of the last 12 winners had at least 1 previous win over 6 furlongs.
  • 9 of the last 12 winners had at least 3 previous flat runs, 9 of the last 12 winners had at least 2 previous flat wins.
  • 7 of the last 12 winners had an official rating of 100+.
  • 8 of the last 12 winners had at least 1 win in a group 1-3 race.
  • 9 of the last 12 winners had at least 3 runs that season, 9 of the last 12 winners had at least 2 previous wins that season.

Key Runners

8. Relief Rally

(William Haggas/Tom Marquand)

A real exciting prospect for the seasons ahead, the William Haggas trained daughter of Kodiac has been one of the 2YO stars of the season, with four wins in just five career runs to her name. A winner of a Novice and Conditions race to kick start her career, she was then pitched straight into Group company when running in the patterned Queen Mary Stakes, to only just be denied by a nose, a race she might have won had she not experienced trouble in running at a crucial time. She was flying home that day, and was just denied by the American raider. However, she put that right when lining up in the Super Sprint Stakes at Newbury, a race that she won pulling away by 3 lengths. She then had arguably her hardest challenge yet when tackling the 6 furlong trip for the first time, lining up in the Group 2 Lowther Stakes with Cherry Blossom finishing a length 2nd in behind, keeping on very well as they approached the line.

She’s clearly a talented filly and currently holds the highest rating in this race, so she is the one they all have to beat even though she tackles Group 1 company for the first time. She is versatile with regards to the ground, winning on good, good to soft and soft conditions, so no matter the ground on Saturday, it wont be an issue. I think she is a very talented filly, and the one they all have to beat at this stage, with regular jockey Tom Marquand booked, who gets the best out of her every time they partner up.

Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes (Group 1) (Fillies)

3. Jasna’s Secret

(Carlos & Yann Lerner/Christophe Soumillon)

A horse that really catches the eye just based on her new connections, Wathnan Racing have been having a little shopping spree this season with many purchases made by them for the future, and they do look to have a nice filly on their hands here.

I’m not a French expert and I don’t claim to be, so it’s hard to gauge the exact form with regards to her two runs so far in France, but one things for sure, she won them in a very impressive manner, and connections wouldn’t have purchased the horse a few days before the race if they didn’t feel she was in there with a winning chance. Both of her wins have come at Deauville, including a length and three quarter win there in July, with Macu in behind who has since won next time out comfortably. It was her winning performance last time out that caught the eye, when lining up against the talented Zorkan, who came 2nd in a Group 3 and won a Listed event before doing battle with Jasna’s Secret, to which the latter won very nicely indeed, almost too easily. The Carlos and Yann Lerner filly broke well, tracking the leader throughout before challenging with a furlong and a half to go, pulling away and winning with ease, looking like a real Group potential filly in the process, beating some vastly experienced rivals that day.

She definitely falls under the could be anything category, and Christophe Soumillon heads over to take the ride, the second of just two rides at Newmarket on Saturday as he looks to go into Arc day with a UK Group 1 to his name with the French raider.

Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes (Group 1) (Fillies)

12. Soprano

(George Boughey/Daniel Tudhope)

Probably one of the more busier fillies who has plenty of racing experience to her name, she was a nice winner on her debut at Newmarket, and she has been pitched in some decent quality races since. A good 3rd in the Albany at Royal Ascot, she then went on to finish 3rd in a Listed contest at Sandown where the underfoot conditions probably didn’t suit her, that was over 7 furlongs which at this stage probably doesn’t suit. However, connections tried again at the trip where she came 2nd in the Group 3 Sweet Solera Stakes at Newmarket, although well beaten by Fallen Angel by 3 lengths, who as we know has since won the Moyglare at The Curragh a few weeks ago. Her run last time was slightly confusing, and left a few question marks as she didn’t break well and was detached at the rear, but did absolutely fly home when the penny dropped back at the 6 furlong trip, so that makes it hard to gauge what sort of trip she will really appreciate.

I think personally she is a little to short in the market, and the fact she was an eye-catching, running on 3rd last time out, that might be the reason why as people might expect more from her again, however I think against some real nice potentially Group 1 fillies in this, she may find it a little to hot to handle. However it is a very nice ride for Danny Tudhope, who takes the reigns on the filly for the very first time.

Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes (Group 1) (Fillies)

7. Porta Fortuna

(Donnacha O’Brien/Oisin Murphy)

The only Royal Ascot winner in the field, the Donnacha O’Brien daughter of Caravaggio is the only horse in the field who has some Group 1 form to her name, which comes in the shape of a decent 2nd in the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes behind Bucanero Fuerte and 3rd in the Moyglare behind Fallen Angel and Vespertilio although beaten by just under 6 lengths. She’s already a Group 3 and 2 winner, as well as a Royal Ascot success to her name, so she is clearly very talented, but has been slightly found out in Group 1 company this term. That being said, I think in these better ground conditions at a track that will suit her running style, she could put up a good showing, and she also hasn’t finished out of the first three in all of her 5 runs to date, progressing from Novice to Group 1 company.

Compared to a few of these who haven’t run at the top level yet, she might have a little more knowhow about her in a Group 1, and that Royal Ascot performance was very good with the form in behind not too bad. iIf she can re-produce an effort like that and her last two runs, she will be in there mixing it up with the best in the field, I would fully expect her to continue the top three trend in this race on Saturday. A very nice “spare” ride for Oisin Murphy, who is very much finding his feet again at a time when it really matters, he is really riding better than anyone at the moment.

Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes (Group 1) (Fillies)

Lively Outsiders

9. Sacred Angel

(Charlie Johnston/James Doyle)

I feel this filly is only the price she is because of who trains her – if the Gosdens or Aidan O’Brien was to have their names attached to this horse she would be 2nd/3rd favourite in the market, and she probably deserves to be judging on the fact she is just a pound lower in the ratings than Relief Rally. Charlie Johnston’s filly has really been on an upwards trajectory since her Maiden victory at Newmarket, where she won by just over a length, before going on to be purchased by her current owner and then proceeded to dip her toes into patterned company.

That was the Group 3 Princess Margaret Stakes and she won that in a very impressive performance, making all to then power away by 3 lengths, with a few horses in behind with some real big reputations. Although a Group 3 winner already, I think it was her run last time out that was a real eye-catcher for me, coming 4th in the Group 1 Prix Morny at Deauville. She ran very well that day in her first run at Group 1 level in just her fourth career start, only beaten by 4 and three quarter lengths by Vandeek, River Tiber (Both lead the market for the Middle Park Stakes) and Ramatuelle, a filly with a real big reputation in France. That does look to be very strong form (Could all go wrong on Saturday, but I doubt it) and the fact she mixed it up with the boys speaks volumes on what connections think of her, which was just her fourth career run.

I think she does have a good chance in this back against her own sex, and the fact she is lightly raced could play to her strengths, as she could improve and become a better horse than most of these. James Doyle does so well in these types of Group 1 contests, I think he thrives off being on bigger priced horses who should probably be a little shorter in the market.

Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes (Group 1) (Fillies)

4. Juniper Berries

(Eve Johnson Houghton/Charles Bishop)

I adore this horse, and my heart probably does slightly overrule my head in this, but she does deserve to be there having run in some quite decent contests this season so far. She has been beaten by Relief Rally twice already, once in a Conditions race and the other time in the Super Sprint at Newbury, and she did look to slightly lose her way after that. But, in typical Eve Johnson Houghton fashion she has got her back firing on all cylinders, when winning the Group 3 Dick Poole Stakes after a few disappointing efforts in a Conditions and Listed race beforehand. That win last time out was by far a career best, and some say she might have been a little fortunate as the fast finishing horse in 3rd Soprano might have beaten her had she broke better, but in the end she didn’t, and Juniper Berries dug deep to win the race.

She’s going well at home and I think she could quite clearly outrun her big odds, considering she is only 6lb’s lower in the ratings than the favourite, and rated in and around the rest of the field, especially the ones shorter in the market. The yard do so well in getting their horses ready, and now she has gotten her head in front recently, that might give her the confidence to run well in her first attempt at Group 1 company.

Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes (Group 1) (Fillies)

Big-Race Verdict

Relief Rally is a horse I like very much, and she just keeps improving with each passing run, she could be the most likely winner of the race as she does have arguably the best form on offer, but I feel there are a few here at decent prices that could run very well who shouldn’t be the price they are. SACRED ANGEL has some great form in the bank already, she is a Group 3 winner and ran very well against the boys in the Group 1 Prix Morny last time out when finishing fourth, with the 1st and 3rd well fancied in the market for the Middle Park Stakes on Saturday, that could work out to be very good form in the long run. Juniper Berries deserves to be there after her gutsy win in A Group 3 last time out, Eve Johnson Houghton knows how to get her horses ready for the big contests, and I think now she has gotten her head back in front, that will give her a load of confidence to run well in this.

SELECTION: Sacred Angel (E/W – 10/1 generally) & Juniper Berries (E/W – 18/1 generally)

*odds correct at time of posting – 3.10pm Thursday 28th September*

Our tip
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Check out this weeks Weekend Watch, where Andrew gives his tips for the ITV action on Saturday alongside Dave Young and Kate Tracey. The trio also give their picks for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on Sunday:

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