Lanwades Stud Nell Gwyn Stakes (Group 3) | 7f | 3yo | ITV4/RUK
The big doubts over whether ante-post Qipco 1,000 Guineas favourite Clemmie will line up at Newmarket on May 6 has opened the Classic door a little more, and the Nell Gwyn offers a good opportunity for a previously unheralded filly to stake her claim.
The Lanwades Stud-sponsored contest is the feature on day two of the Craven meeting, when ITV4 cameras will be rolling from not just Newmarket but Cheltenham too.
Altyn Orda, who sprang a surprise when losing her maiden status in the Oh So Sharp Stakes last year, will attempt to press her claims for the 1,000 Guineas against a host of other fillies entered for the Classic.
Trained by Roger Varian, Altyn Orda, who can be backed at 33-1 for the 1,000 Guineas, twice finished second before putting those efforts behind her by getting up close home to claim the Group 3 contest by a neck.
What was remarkable about her performance was that she was unruly before the race and had unseated Andrea Atzeni, running lose for a time before taking her place in the line-up.
If she can avoid a repeat of those antics, she could justify her trainer's description as "an exciting filly".
Varian said: "Altyn Orda is in good shape and it seemed logical to bring her back to Newmarket given she won the Oh So Sharp over this course and distance in the autumn.
"To break her maiden in that company was an excellent effort and the form and time of that race look solid. She's entitled to improve again this year and I'm very much looking forward to running her."
John Gosden has won the last two runnings of the Nell Gwyn and has captured the prize five times in all.
Although Valentine Waltz went on to claim the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches in 1999, none of them went on to win the 1,000 Guineas, which was last claimed by a Nell Gwyn winner when Speciosa triumphed in 2006.
The trainer's latest hopeful, Nawassi, is bred on the right lines as her dam Maqaasid, who finished third in the 1,000 Guineas, is a relative of Ghanaati, who won the Classic and is a grand-daughter of Nashwan.
She put a disappointing August debut behind her to come back and win a Newmarket maiden in November for owner Hamdan Al Maktoum.
Gosden said: "She's been pleasing at home and this is a good starting point for her as she's short on experience.
"We know she handles the track and the ground, having won her maiden on the Rowley Mile last autumn."
Even though Gosden's record is impressive, his stable jockey Frankie Dettori betters it, having ridden the winner of the race in each of the last four years.
With Jim Crowley on Nawassi, Dettori will seek an eighth victory on one of the three fillies not entered in the 1,000 Guineas, the Charlie Hills-trained Juliet Foxtrot.
The filly got off the mark in a Goodwood maiden, winning by seven lengths, but could not follow up in a Group 3 at Naas next time.
Hills said: "She got bogged down in the mud in Ireland on her last run, however her maiden win was very impressive. She went nicely when we took her for a racecourse gallop at Lingfield. However, she does have a bit to find with some of these."
What they say
Richard Hannon, trainer of Billesdon Brook
She's been working well. She's been to Kempton twice and would be pretty fit. It looks quite a smart race but I'd be hopeful.
Aidan O'Brien, trainer of Dramatically
She's still a bit backward in her coat. She won her maiden over six furlongs on soft ground and should get further.
Charlie Appleby, trainer of Soliloquy
Soliloquy won on her final juvenile start at Ascot and is a typical Dubawi filly in that she's done well from two to three. The Nell Gwyn will be a step up in class and this will give us a gauge on where to go with her afterwards.
Jeremy Noseda, trainer of Zain Hana
I'm pleased with her – she's done well over the winter. I'm hoping for a solid performance, which will then tell us more about the campaign ahead for her.