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Kingdom Of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes (Group 1) (British Champions Series)
A Group 1 race over a mile for fillies and mares, it has gone back to France in five times in the last eight years, including a sensational hat-trick from Sahpresa. Five of the last six winners have been at the head of the market so it hasn’t been a good race for the bookies of late. Our expert preview for the 2017 Sun Chariot Stakes is below.
Despite being turned over in the Matron Stakes, Winter would be the favourite if she were to head to England once more this season to attempt another Group 1. She has already picked up four Group 1 wins this season so is clearly one of the best of her generation. She was a little disappointing when turned over at Leopardstown, but she is capable of much better than that. She just looked a little flat, not having the same sparkle as she has shown all this season. If that was because she has had enough at the end of a hard season then she would be worth taking on but if anyone is capable of getting her back to her best it’s Aidan O’Brien.
The winner of this contest in 2016 was Alice Springs. If Winter isn’t going to represent Ballydoyle, then it would be no shock if she were chosen to represent the team. She has been seen just once this season when turned over in the Gladness Stakes at Naas in April. She wasn’t really suited by the way that the race was run on that occasion over seven furlongs, but the fact she hasn’t been seen since having sustained an injury is a concern. O’Brien is anxious to take her to Del Mar for the Breeders Cup but she won’t go there without a prep run so this could be the key contest for her. She may well come here therefore, but it is going to be as a prep race for a bigger target down the line.
Not for the first time, Qemah failed in the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown. She was well seen off by Alice Springs in the 2016 edition before a long way behind Hydrangea this season. She didn’t make the track again last year after that run in Ireland, returning to win for the second year in a row at Royal Ascot. It is easy enough to forgive the Matron run and she is going to have much more in her favour back on a straight mile where she excelled both at Ascot and at Deauville in the past. It may be that she is a little fragile and only has a couple of huge runs in her each year, but she is a big player on the best of her form.
Just a length behind Qemah in the Duke Of Cambridge Stakes at Royal Ascot was Usherette, a race that she had won herself in 2016. She was not seen again last season after a poor showing behind Alice Springs in the Falmouth Stakes on the July Course, returning to winning form last time out when dropped to Listed level. As always, a runner in this country representing Andre Fabre needs plenty of respect as he doesn’t raid across the English Channel for a day out, but she has a little to prove on what she has shown this season if she is to break her duck at the top table.
A rapidly progressive filly last season was Persuasive, winning her first five starts before giving second best to Alice Springs in the Matron Stakes. She has only been beaten three lengths combined in a pair of Group 1 contests this season, including when hitting the frame in the 2017 edition of the Matron Stakes last time out. She will have no problems if the ground turns soft as it tends to in October at Newmarket, showing her only Group winning form with cut in the ground. She has still only had eight races in her career so there could still be more in the tank with regards to improvement.
Charlie Appleby has long held Wuheida in high regard. The Falmouth was a tough place for her to start her season, running well when only going under by a length and a half to Roly Poly. She didn’t get home in the German Oaks over a mile and three furlongs on soft ground so it was no surprise to see her dropped back to a mile when behind a couple of these in the Matron Stakes last time out. She was beaten less than two lengths in fourth there and has room for a little more improvement if she gets ridden with a little more restraint.