(Published 20 September, 2018) – First run in 1898, the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes is a six furlong contest for two year old fillies only, staged on Newmarket’s Rowley Mile course on the same day as the Cambridgeshire Handicap and other big races such as the Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes, and the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes, the latter being the juvenile colts’ equivalent event over the same trip.
At a time of year when the early two year olds may have reached their peak or are training off, and the later maturing juveniles are beginning to emerge, the Cheveley Park Stakes shines a bright light on the best fillies of their generation who may go on to be major players in the 1000 Guineas back at the same track just over seven months later.
Aidan O’Brien has won the last two renewals with Brave Anna and Clemmie, neither of whom have trained on at three years old quite as well as expected. But in the past there have been a number of great fillies who have maintained their form and even improved again the following season, in recent times such as Sayeddati, Airwave, Indian Ink and Special Duty all went on to establish themselves as high-class fillies of the Classic generation.
Is The Race Pretty Pollyanna’s For The Taking?
A glance at the ante-post market for this year’s renewal of the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes on September 29, reveals that the Michael Bell-trained Pretty Pollyanna is a very warm favourite, offered at a best price 5/4 with Coral at the time of writing. There’s a good reason for that as the Bill Gredley owned and bred daughter of Oasis Dream has enjoyed a tremendous campaign. After springing a 14/1 surprise on her debut in a six furlong Yarmouth maiden she was stepped straight up to Group 3 company in Royal Ascot’s Albany Stakes, running a fine race to finish fifth of 18 behind Main Edition.
🗣“I have been happy with her since her run in the Prix Morny, she seems in good fettle and worked well the other morning."
— Racing UK (@racing_uk) September 12, 2018
Three weeks later she moved up another level to tackle the Group 2 Duchess of Cambridge Stakes at Newmarket’s July meeting where she produced a scintillating performance, routing strong opposition in beating Angel’s Hideaway by seven lengths. And just to prove that was no fluke, in the Group 1 Darley Prix Morny at Deauville last month, Bell’s filly led at halfway then stayed on determinedly to beat Signora Cabello by three-quarters-of-a-length, earning rave reviews.
If Pretty Pollyanna arrives at HQ in similar form it will take a good one to beat her. She is a worthy favourite, but offers no great value at current odds so I’m on a mission to find one at a better price to make a race of it and even turn over this likeable market leader.
John Quinn’s Signora Cabello is the current second-favourite at a best price of 4/1 with 888sport, and on the book has less than a length to find to reverse the placings with her Deauville conqueror. This 20,000 guineas Camacho filly has been a great money spinner for connections and has won four of her six races, including the listed Marygate Fillies’ Stakes at York in May, the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot, (where she prevailed by a short-head over Ballydoyle’s useful Gossamer Wings), and the Group 2 Prix Robert Papin at Maison Lafitte, where she again showed a fine attitude in seeing off local star Sexy Metro by a neck.
Those wins came primarily at five furlongs, (and in France over an extra half furlong), but it was over the Cheveley Park Stakes trip of six furlongs that Signora Cabello found Pretty Pollyanna too strong for her last time out, being unable to quicken inside the last 100 yards. On the stiffer uphill finish of the Rowley Mile track I believe any possible stamina flaws in this tremendously quick filly will be exposed, and because of that I think she is unlikely to reverse the placings with her Deauville conqueror.
The O’Brien Contingent
Fairyland, So Perfect, Just Wonderful, and Gossamer Wings, all trained by Aidan O’Brien who has won the last two renewals of the race, remain in the mix ahead of the five-day declarations.
Fairyland looks the pick of the bunch having won three of her four starts, only tasting defeat when a good third behind Main Edition in the Albany Stakes having previously scored in listed company at the Curragh. After a mid-term break this strong daughter of Kodiac bounced back to gutsily land the Group 2 Lowther Stakes at York over six furlongs once again, and she appears to be in fine form, given the virus that laid low so many of the Ballydoyle contingent during the mid-summer period. The 8/1 on offer with Ladbrokes looks a fair each-way price.
What a finish in the opener at @yorkracecourse!
The Mackem Bullet laying down a serious challenge but it's the well backed 6/4 favourite FAIRYLAND who gets up to win the @SkyBet Lowther Stakes!
Another winner for Timeform's TV Focus!
— Timeform (@Timeform) August 23, 2018
So Perfect was a very close fourth in the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes over five furlongs at Royal Ascot before going on to get the better of last weekend’s Group 1 winner Skitter Skatter in the Group 3 Grangecon Stud Stakes over six furlongs. Last time out she failed by only half a length to beat Marty Meade’s colt Advertise in the Group 1 Keeneland Phoenix Stakes so there is little doubt she is a very talented filly. It will be interesting to see which of the quartet O’Brien chooses to run at HQ, but if she does take her chance then So Perfect won’t be far away. She is an 8/1 shot with Paddy Power.
Just Wonderful (16/1 with Bet365) ran a poor race at the Curragh last week behind Skitter Skatter when a 10-length seventh, having previously beaten Peach Tree over a mile in a Group 3 event at the same track. It would be a surprise if she is good enough for this challenge, while Gossamer Wings (20/1 with 10bet) has plenty of speed, as she showed when failing by just a short-head to win the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes. She again ran well when third to Soldiers Call in the Group 2 Flying Childers Stakes at Doncaster last week but may not be quite as effective over this extra furlong.
French Raider Worth A Second Glance
The French don’t send too many fillies over for the Cheveley Park Stakes, but that hasn’t stopped them winning it three times in the last 11 years. Natagora (2007), the subsequent 1000 Guineas winner Special Duty in 2009, and most recently Vorda (2013) have all defeated the home battalion, and this year they have a very interesting contender in the shape of the Matthieu Palussiere-trained FOREVER IN DREAMS.
Palussiere knows what it takes to win a major juvenile fillies race on this side of the water having sent out Different League to land the Group 3 Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot last year. I strongly suspect that the shrewd handler has had his eye on this prize ever since his grey daughter of Dream Ahead lost her unbeaten record at this year’s Royal Ascot when seventh in a blanket finish to the Queen Mary Stakes won by Signora Cabello, beaten just over a length in total.
Having won on soft ground over five furlongs on her debut, then followed up by scoring over six furlongs on good to soft ground at Saint Cloud, the drop back in trip at Ascot and the very quick ground almost certainly combined to find out this very promising filly, but she still ran very well. She has been rested since then and will step back up to the stiff six furlongs. If there is rain to ease the ground that will also help her cause, so at 33/1 with Coral I believe Forever In Dreams is a very tasty each-way bet in a race where so many of her rivals have been on the go all summer and may well have peaked.
A Few Others To Consider
Sheila Lavery’s Lady Kaya (10/1 with Betfair) travelled better than anything a furlong out over seven furlongs at the Curragh last week but didn’t quite get home in the race won by Skitter Skatter. She is not without a chance back in trip if recovered from here exertions. Main Edition (10/1 with SportPesa) is a good filly trained by Mark Johnston to win the Group 3 Albany Stakes and the Group 3 Sweet Solera Stakes at Newmarket. She has been found out though both times she has stepped above that grade and I fear it may well be more of the same if she bids for this Group 1.
Angel’s Hideaway (12/1 with Paddy Power), trained by John Gosden, was hampered and eventually finished last of nine in the Group 2 Lowther Stakes at York last time out but wasn’t going well enough to trouble the principals when she met trouble-in-running that day. She is better than that, as she showed in landing the Group 3 Princess Margaret Stakes at Ascot in July on her previous start, but has seven lengths to find with Pretty Pollyanna on her second to Michael Bell’s charge at Newmarket in July and that is likely to prove beyond her.
ADVICE: FOREVER IN DREAMS (33/1 each-way with Coral)
Written by Paul Alster
Paul Alster has been part of the British and international racing media for more than three decades working as a race commentator, TV/radio presenter, journalist, betting correspondent, SP returner, and form analyst. He’s always sought out overpriced runners in handicap races, a quest that excites him as much now as it did at the start of his career.