Qabala on Wednesday joined 1,000 Guineas heroine Hermosa as favourite with some firms for their rematch in the Irish version at the Curragh on Sunday with connections hopeful she can turn around the form and disrupt the dominance of Aidan O’Brien in the Classics.
The Roger Varian-trained filly lost her unbeaten record but precious little in terms of reputation three weeks ago and, having supplemented Qabala at a cost of €40,000 for the Tattersalls-sponsored Group 1, connections believe with a little bit more luck in running she can put it up to the free-wheeling Hermosa.
Qabala was on Wednesday a best-priced 11-4 to gain revenge, while Hermosa is available at 5-2 after her Newmarket success.
Qabala runs in the colours of Sheikh Mohammed Al Thani’s Al Shahania Stud – already successful in the French version of the 1,000 Guineas thanks to Flotilla (2013) and Teppal (2018) – and racing manager Bertrand Le Metayer is more than hopeful she can justify the late decision to enter.
Le Metayer said: “It was a very good performance at Newmarket, where the filly met interference running into the dip, just at the moment when she was accelerating. She had to go around Fairyland and then made up a lot of ground to be not beaten far in the end.
"It was a little bit of a shame the way it played out so we’re happy to take our chance in another Classic.”
Qabala won her sole start at two but vaulted into the Classic picture when showing a smart turn of foot to sweep past her rivals in the Nell Gwyn Stakes in April.
A $300,000 purchase at Fasig Tipton in Kentucky, the daughter of Scat Daddy is also likely to relish the current good to firm conditions at the Curragh, where a maximum of 11 fillies will take their chance following Wednesday’s forfeit stage.
“You would like to think that quick ground will be in her favour, though we don’t have a lot of evidence one way or the other,” Le Metayer added. “She won on debut on good ground in the autumn and then it was pretty good again for the Nell Gywn. She’s probably quite versatile but we know she handles it if it stays fast.
“The news from Roger has been very good and we are happy to supplement in a positive frame of mind, hopeful that we can turn around the form from Newmarket.”
David Egan will take the ride with Varian's first-choice jockey Andrea Atzeni riding Zabeel Prince in the Prix d'Ispahan at Longchamp, and the trainer has every confidence in the 20-year-old who is looking for a first Group 1 winner.
"It's a big opportunity for David but he has given her two fine rides," said Varian. "They did nothing wrong in the Guineas and he has struck up a nice relationship with her so, with Andrea elsewhere, it made perfect sense to leave David on board."
Varian believes Qabala poses a serious threat to the Ballydoyle squadron in her quest to become the first British-trained filly to win the race since 2013.
He added: "She came out of Newmarket great and we're happy with her work. These are the races we want to be competing in but Qabala has proved herself to be a very good filly. She put in a great run at Newmarket [in the 1,000 Guineas] and perhaps she was a bit unlucky in the final two furlongs but she ran a good race.
"She has to take on Hermosa again but we will be racing on a sound surface, I think the mile is her best trip and I am sure the Curragh will suit her. I'd say she ticks all the boxes – we had to supplement her and we wouldn't have done that if there was any doubt in our minds. Hopefully she will run a nice race.
"Aidan has got a strong stable – as he has for many years – but we are striving to compete at this level and it is exciting to take good horses to the Curragh. We've had good runners over there and at this level, but Qabala is no longshot and she has every right to be there."
Of O’Brien’s seven Irish 1,000 Guineas winners only Winter, in 2017, had won the Newmarket equivalent – only Attraction and Finsceal Beo have achieved the double.
The trainer said on Wednesday: “We’re happy with Hermosa and we’re looking forward to running her. We’re also planning to run Just Wonderful, Coral Beach and Fairyland in the race. Fleeting is also a possible but she might wait for the Investec Oaks.”
Iridessa, three lengths behind Hermosa when eighth in the 1,000 Guineas, is likely to contest Sunday's Classic rather than wait for the Investec Oaks.
Joseph O'Brien said of last year's Fillies' Mile winner: "She came out of Newmarket well and it's more likely she'll run on Sunday instead of waiting for Epsom. The Curragh should suit her well."
Too Darn Hot was on Wednesday trimmed into a top-priced 13-8 (from 15-8) for Saturday’s Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas in which Magna Grecia will be tasked with following up his 2,000 Guineas win at Newmarket.
Aidan O’Brien said: “We’ve been very happy with Magna Grecia since Newmarket. All is well with him.
“It’s very possible that Mohawk, Old Glory, Van Beethoven and Globe Theatre will also run, although there is a chance that Mohawk might wait for either the Investec Derby or the Prix du Jockey Club.”