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Chapple-Hyam ‘knocking at Group 1 door’ with Saffron Beach

7 Jul 2021

A quality field of 13 declared for Friday's Tattersalls Falmouth Stakes on the July Course

Saffron Beach is entered for the Falmouth Stakes

QIPCO 1,000 Guineas second Saffron Beach heads to Newmarket’s July Course on Friday for the Group 1 Tattersalls Falmouth Stakes with an obvious chance of being in the shake-up again.

If successful in the next leg of the Fillies & Mares category of this year’s QIPCO British Champions Series, Saffron Beach would be a first winner at that level in her own name for local trainer Jane Chapple-Hyam.

However when she was at Manton in the 1990s with her former husband Peter, she was associated with a list of Classic and Group 1 winners that would have been the envy of any trainer in the land. Among them were the likes of Rodrigo de Triano, Dr Devious, Spectrum, Turtle Island and White Muzzle.

Since setting up on her own in Newmarket in late 2005, Chapple-Hyam has been knocking at the door, but until now it has remained firmly shut. Saffron Beach might just be the one to prise it open, although she is certainly not underestimating the strength of the opposition in a strong field of 13.

Chapple-Hyam said: “I was involved with a lot of outstanding horses at Manton, when I’d often be on the lead horse when they galloped. Saffron Beach would be right up there with the best I’ve trained myself, but I’ve been the bridesmaid a few times in big races, including in the Prix de l’Abbaye (Secret Asset), the Irish Champion Stakes (Traffic Guard) and the Breeders’ Cup (Annie Skates). I’ve knocked at the door plenty of times, but I’m still waiting for the big one.”

Looking back at the QIPCO 1,000 Guineas, she said: “Saffron Beach relaxed in the race and came home strong, but we’d all forgotten how good Mother Earth was because of all the talk about her stable-companion Santa Barbara. People say it would have been a better finish if they had eyeballed each other, but they were wide apart and Mother Earth had the better turn of foot. It was a great run though.”

The Cazoo Oaks didn’t go so well, but it can safely be forgotten. Chapple-Hyam said: “We didn’t learn a great deal as it was very heavy ground and she ran to the line like a tired horse. I’m convinced she’ll get a mile and a quarter, but we’ll probably never find out if she gets a mile and a half.”

Saffron Beach will have a new jockey on Friday, with David Egan partnering her in a racecourse gallop last week and he takes the ride on Friday.

Chapple-Hyam said: “She went seven furlongs on the July track on ground that was good to firm, but very safe, and she quickened nicely past her lead horse Ambassadorial. She’s a big, strong mare and David said she felt great.”

She added: “When she went for the QIPCO 1000 Guineas I felt she’d be in the first three, and although the Falmouth looks a very strong race, she’s definitely entitled to be involved in the finish again.

“One thing we have going for us is that nearly all of her main opponents bar Primo Bacio ran at Royal Ascot, so it’s going to be interesting to see how they turn around in just three weeks, particularly the three-year-olds who ran in the Coronation Stakes on heavy ground on the Friday. We’ve had five weeks since the Oaks, and that’s definitely a plus.”

Mother Earth, second next time in the French 1,000 Guineas, renews their rivalry. Mother Earth did much the better of the other Aidan O’Brien filly Empress Josephine in third when the pair met in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot, but Alcohol Free, possibly not at her very best when only fifth in the QIPCO 1,000 Guineas, and Snow Lantern both had her measure and they head ante-post betting on the race.

Snow Lantern, who missed the QIPCO 1,000 Guineas, finished very well from an unpromising position and many will fancy her to reverse those placings on Friday and possibly go one better than her dam Sky Lantern, who was a runaway winner of the Coronation Stakes but went down by a neck to Elusive Kate in a controversial finish when odds on for the Falmouth.

Richard Hannon has already talked of having “a score to settle”, and he reports that Snow Lantern is “as fresh as a daisy”, despite her recent Royal Ascot exertions. Andrew Balding has been “really pleased” with Alcohol Free.

Primo Bacio was hugely impressive in Listed company at York in May, when Snow Lantern failed to settle, but she then sidestepped the Coronation Stakes on account of the testing ground. Her trainer Ed Walker said: “I was gutted at missing the Coronation Stakes, but I don’t regret it, and if she was only able to run in one or the other my gut feeling is that the July Course will suit her better than Ascot’s round course would have done.

“She goes there really fresh and well and we are very excited. She’s only a Listed winner, but she thumped the runner-up in the Coronation Stakes and won very comfortably from a filly who won a Listed race next time, so there was enough substance there. It’s a lovely position to be in, as we are almost in a ‘no lose’ situation.”

There was a time when one barely needed to look beyond the three-year-olds for the Falmouth winner, for older fillies won the race just three times in the 1980s and 1990s. That has all changed though since the programme for older fillies and mares was enhanced, and since 2000 the balance has been much more even, with a ratio of 12 winners from 21 in favour of the older brigade.

They are strongly represented here by the principals in Royal Ascot’s Duke Of Cambridge Stakes, where John Gosden’s Indie Angel, who was a supplementary entry here, beat the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes runner-up Lady Bowthorpe decisively, with Queen Power, Champers Elysees and Lavender’s Blue occupying the next four places and all set to meet again.

Were Queen Power to win, she would be a record seventh winner for her trainer Sir Michael Stoute, following Royal Heroine (1983), Sonic Lady (1986 & 1987), Lovers Knot (1998), Integral (2014) and Veracious (2019).

While most of the runners in the Falmouth Stakes have met at least some of their rivals already, Just Beautiful arrives somewhat from left field. An 8,000 guineas filly from the Nottinghamshire stable of Argentinian Ivan Furtado, who worked for Jim Old, Roger Charlton and Alan McCabe before setting up successfully on his own in 2015, she will be taking a big step up after winning three novices on the all-weather and a Listed race at Musselburgh.

Just Beautiful is not being disrespected by bookmakers, and Furtado believes there are plenty of pluses.

He said: “It’s a big step up in class, but she’s done everything right so far and she’s unbeaten. We still haven’t got to the bottom of her and I was impressed at Musselburgh, where I think she got a bit lonely in front there. and I don’t think stepping up to a mile will be a problem.

“She’s very well, and they say the ground should be fast, which is just what she wants. Newmarket will be a different test for her, but she’s very straightforward and I think she’ll handle it. I don’t think stepping up to a mile will be a problem.”

He added: “She’s definitely the best I’ve had, and she’s still progressing. It’s a big opportunity for all of us – for myself, her jockey Joey Haynes, and also the owners. She’s a joy, and I’m sure she won’t be disgraced.”

The Mick Channon-trained Illykato, winner of a listed race at Goodwood at the beginning of May, completes the field.