Thoughts of the Breeders’ Cup won’t be too far away for locally based trainer Roger Varian as he saddles a third of the nine-runner field in Friday’s Rockfel Stakes at Newmarket.
Heading the market for the Shadwell-sponsored G2 event is Daahyeh (William Buick), one of three fillies representing the trainer in the seven-furlong contest, which offers a guaranteed fees-paid berth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf as part of the ‘Win and You’re In’ Challenge.
Although Daahyeh has been a beaten favourite on her two most recent outings, both defeats came in hot company. The daughter of Bated Breath finished second to leading juvenile filly Raffle Prize in the G2 Duchess of Cambridge at the July meeting before filling the same spot behind the Aidan O’Brien-trained Love in the G1 Moyglare Stud Stakes a fortnight ago at the Curragh, where she stayed on after struggling to match the winner’s turn of foot.
“Daahyeh ran great in the Moyglare Stud Stakes on her first try at seven furlongs when she was coming back after a bit of a break,” commented Varian. “I am really happy at how she has come out of that race and am very much looking forward to running her in the Shadwell Rockfel Stakes.
“It was a tight decision choosing between running her here or in the Cheveley Park Stakes on Saturday,” added Varian, who also saddles Stylistique (Frankie Dettori) and Alash Orda (David Egan).
“But the long-term plan may include taking her over to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies’ Turf over a longer trip so it seemed sensible to stick at seven furlongs instead of yo-yoing back down to six.”
Varian has never had a Breeders’ Cup winner, his best placing coming via second-placed Nahrain in the Filly & Mare Turf in 2011.
Also coming on from the Moyglare is Princess Margaret Stakes victress Under The Stars (James Tate/Oisin Murphy), who ran on to claim fifth only two lengths behind the winner after getting stuck in a pocket at a crucial juncture. Left “frustrated” at the Curragh, her trainer will have welcomed recent heavy rain for his daughter of Night Of Thunder.
Last year’s Rockfel winner, Just Wonderful, went on to finish fourth in the Juvenile Fillies Turf at Churchill Downs. Her trainer, Aidan O’Brien, relies on Blissful (Ryan Moore), a Galileo filly who has progressed markedly for the step up in trip since getting 7f, having won her last two, latterly in listed company at Leopardstown.
Six-length Chepstow winner Festival Day (Mark Johnston/Franny Norton) moves up in class, and it may prove wise not to ignore Cloak Of Spirits (Richard Hannon/Andrea Atzeni), despite a dismal effort last time out as a well-backed favourite for the G2 May Hill Stakes at Doncaster.
The daughter of Invincible Spirit had looked really good at Ascot on her debut in July and shaped as if she simply failed to stay at Doncaster. This 7f should be more up her street.
Saturday’s Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes is Britain’s final qualifying race in the Breeders’ Cup Challenge, an international series of 86 stakes races whose winners receive automatic fees-paid entries to designated races at the two-day event at Santa Anita on November 1-2.
As part of the benefits from the Challenge series, Breeders’ Cup will also provide a $40,000 travel allowance for all starters based outside North America to compete.