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Shoemark bids for first Group 1 on Lady Bowthorpe in Nassau Stakes

27 Jul 2021

William Jarvis filly looks to build on excellent performances in the Tattersalls Falmouth Stakes and Al Shaqab Lockinge in 2021

Lady Bowthorpe is declared for the Nassau Stakes

Jockey Kieran Shoemark has high hopes of a career-first Group 1 win in Thursday’s Qatar Nassau Stakes when Lady Bowthorpe bids to put behind her a recent unlucky-in-running fourth in the Tattersalls Falmouth Stakes.

If successful when taking on five other runners in the latest leg of the Fillies & Mares category of the QIPCO British Champions Series, it will be a big day not only for Shoemark, but also for Newmarket trainer William Jarvis, whose last top level winner was Grand Lodge in the 1994 St James’s Palace Stakes. Additionally owner Emma Banks, who is agent to some of the biggest names in the music business and is pursuing her love of horse racing with just as much passion.

It’s fair to say that Shoemark’s career has had its ups and downs since his breakthrough first Royal Ascot win on Roger Charlton’s Atty Persse for Godolphin in 2017. He suffered serious lung and rib injuries in a horrific fall at Lingfield the following summer and even worse was to come in 2019, when he was suspended for six months after failing a drug test and for the first time publicly acknowledged that he had an alcohol problem too.

That suspension evidently came as a relief, as it was the wake-up call he needed. He took a long look at himself and his lifestyle, spoke frankly and openly about his problems, and since returning to the saddle he has worked tirelessly at rehabilitating himself and restoring his reputation. 

Lady Bowthorpe gave him a first ever Group 2 win in Newmarket’s Dahlia Stakes, and there was a second success at that level when he won Ascot’s Summer Mile for his principal employer Charlie Hills, riding Wednesday’s Qatar Sussex Stakes runner Tilsit. Having ridden his 50th winner of the year at Wolverhampton on Monday evening, he is firmly on course to beat his previous best of 65, and a first Group 1 win would be the icing on the cake.

Shoemark said: “It’s all behind me now and I’m just trying to be the best jockey I can, and the best person too. My career is back on track and I’m on course for a personal best. More importantly, I’m riding better quality horses for some amazing people. 

“Lady Bowthorpe has taken me to some big races this year, and she’s run some massive races in Group 1s since giving me that first Group 2 in the Dahlia. I feel she deserves a Group 1 and I’m really excited about her stepping up to a mile and a quarter. She’s by Nathaniel, and they usually stay fairly well, but she’s not short of pace, which you have to have at Goodwood as it’s a trappy track. I really think it will suit her.”

Looking back on the Falmouth, where Lady Bowthorpe was trapped behind horses before finishing fast, he said: “I was happy with my position for about 50 yards! We started off in two groups and she was nice and relaxed in a lovely position, then all of a sudden the groups merged and she had a wall of horses in front of her.

“At crucial times when I needed to get her quickening there was nothing doing in front of me, so I decided to switch outside. I lost a couple of lengths in doing so, but she flew home and was beaten only a length. It’s hard to say if she’d have beaten Snow Lantern, but she’d have been second in a couple more strides.”

Lady Bowthorpe has yet to win on ground softer than good, but her Lockinge second was on good to soft and she has twice run well under more testing conditions. The going ought not to be an issue for favourite Audarya either, for while November’s Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf win and her second behind Love in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes were on fast ground, she also showed high-class form in soft and heavy in France last year.

Her trainer James Fanshawe is looking forward to the Qatar Nassau Stakes and said: “Audarya ran really well at Royal Ascot and she’s come out of the race in good form. Six weeks is a nice gap between races when you are taking things step by step, and we’ve had this race in mind for a while. 

“She’s got better as she’s got older, and she’s doing everything right at home. It was fast ground at Keeneland and Royal Ascot, but she shouldn’t have any problem on easier going as it was very testing last year when she won the Romanet, and very soft when she ran so well in the Prix de l’Opera.”

Aidan O’Brien is already a four-time winner of the Qatar Nassau Stakes, with Peeping Fawn (2007), Halfway To Heaven (2008), Minding (2016) and Winter (2017). He saddles two strong candidates in Classic winners Joan Of Arc, the winner of last month’s Prix de Diane at Chantilly, and Empress Josephine, who beat her a short head in the Irish 1000 Guineas on heavy ground but has since finished down the field under similar conditions in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot. 

O’Brien said: “We are lucky to have some great fillies and we try to keep them apart and give them their best chance by picking the races which will suit them best, but we have been aiming both of these fillies for this race.

“Joan Of Arc won the Prix de Diane and has been progressing lovely all season. Empress Josephine will be stepping up to a mile and a quarter.”

He added: “We went beyond a mile with Empress Josephine before she won the Irish Guineas and then went back in trip, but it was early in the season and maybe it was the ground, so it’s possible we got a false reading from her. She’s a full sister to Minding, so she could leave that running behind her and get the trip, but she is a filly who has plenty of speed.”

A field of six is completed by Zeyaadah and the Martyn Meade-trained Technique, who were separated by just a head in an all-weather Group 3 at Newcastle last month.

Cheshire Oaks runner-up Zeyaadah was well beaten in testing ground when fancied for the Cazoo Oaks, but trainer Roger Varian felt that she did not get home in that ground, like a lot of fillies on the day. The drop back in trip is a plus, but the going might not be ideal.

Varian said at the weekend: “She’ll need to step up on the Newcastle form to win a Nassau, but while she only won a head she was in command at the line there. Bar the Oaks, she’s done nothing wrong in her career. There was only one winner that day, and the rest were nowhere.

“I think she’s a ten-furlong filly, and I also think she’s a better ground filly now she’s going up against better horses, although she’s got soft ground form. She’s in good form and I think she’s ready for this test.”