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Levey excited for Snow Lantern’s Newmarket return

30 Sep 2021

Richard Hannon's Falmouth winner heads back to Newmarket in the Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes

Snow Lantern wins the Falmouth Stakes

Sean Levey has enjoyed some of his finest moments in the saddle at Newmarket and his hopes are high that he can win another Group 1 there when he partners his Tattersalls Falmouth Stakes winner Snow Lantern in the Kingdom Of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes on Saturday.

The Group 1 one-mile race, first run in 1966, will be the last race in the QIPCO British Champions Series before QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot on Saturday 16th October. Despite the absence of the Coronation Stakes and Qatar Sussex Stakes winner Alcohol Free, with whom Snow Lantern had been vying for favouritism in ante-post lists, the field of 13 features no fewer than five Group 1 winners, plus two fillies who have not yet won at that level but have been Classic-placed. 

It looks a particularly strong renewal, but the Richard Hannon-trained Snow Lantern had six of her rivals here behind her when taking the Tattersalls Falmouth Stakes in scintillating style, and on that form she is fully entitled to her position now as clear favourite. Levey certainly thinks so.

He believes the nature of the Rowley Mile, which is not dissimilar to Newmarket’s July Course on which Snow Lantern won the Falmouth, will suit his filly ideally, and he is excited about her prospects of following in the footsteps of her mother Sky Lantern, who won the 2013 Sun Chariot and who she resembles in so many ways. He won the Sun Chariot two years ago on Billesdon Brook, whose 66-1 win in the previous year’s QIPCO 1,000 Guineas had been his first Group 1, and he particularly enjoys riding at Newmarket.

Levey said: “It looks a very good race but on the Falmouth form she’s entitled to be favourite. She usually tends to travel in your hands a little more than ideal, but she was relatively settled that day and she travelled brilliantly. As a result she relished the track, and particularly the stiff incline up towards the line, which is where she was at her best. The Rowley Mile also has that stiff incline at the end, and that’s going to suit her again.

“Newmarket is ultimately a very fair track, despite the undulations, and I always look forward to riding there. It’s racing’s headquarters, and we all want to be riding at the best meetings when we can. Also, they tend to go a gallop there, which you don’t always get on courses with a bend.”

Snow Lantern made rapid headway in the final furlong of the Falmouth and got up in the final strides to collar the QIPCO 1000 Guineas winner Mother Earth and Alcohol Free, with Primo Bacio, Just Beautiful, Lavender’s Blue, Saffron Beach and Champers Elysees all further back. 

She was not seen to quite such good advantage since behind Alcohol Free in the Sussex, where a six-day ban incurred in the Falmouth prevented Levey from maintaining the partnership, or in the Prix Du Moulin, but Levey believes her fourth behind rising superstar Baaeed at Longchamp was better than the bare form indicates, besides which she subsequently scoped dirty.

Levey, who is already ahead of last year’s total, said: “At the time I came away from Longchamp a bit disappointed, as she was second favourite, but I think the winner is very, very good and the track wasn’t ideal for her. She wasn’t beaten that far and there were plenty of positives to take out of it. It emerged after that she hadn’t scoped the best either, which you have to take into consideration, and this time her scopes have been really good.

“I did a little bit on her on Wednesday, and she went well. Like her mother, she’s not one to light up the gallops, but I was very happy with her. She’s in great order.”

Mother Earth, who was chased home by Saffron Beach and Fev Rover in the 1000 Guineas, bids to give Aidan O’Brien a fourth Sun Chariot win following Halfway To Heaven (2008), Alice Springs (2016) and Roly Poly (2017). She is sure to prove a tough opponent again, having followed her Falmouth Stakes second with a second Group 1 win in the Prix Rothschild at Deauville and then looked unlucky when third behind 25-1 chance No Speak Alexander in the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown. 

The Matron Stakes, in which Epona Plays finished a close fifth, was a very messy Group 1 and Champers Elysees, who had won it 12 months earlier, was another who got stopped in her run. However, No Speak Alexander had got no run herself when behind Mother Earth at Deauville, and her earlier close third behind Empress Josephine in the Irish 1000 Guineas confirms she is a talented filly. Her trainer Jessica Harrington has been in red-hot form lately.

Alcohol Free’s absence has enabled Ed Walker to secure the services of champion jockey Oisin Murphy for Primo Bacio, who was a strong-finishing fifth in the Falmouth Stakes and ran better than her bare form suggests in the Deauville race.

Walker, who also saddles Matron Stakes tenth Dreamloper, is delighted and said: “Getting Oisin on a day like this is a fantastic result for us. I gave him the choice between the two fillies and he chose Primo Bacio, despite having won the Valiant at Ascot on Dreamloper.”

He added: “Primo obviously has some rock solid form until a slightly unexplained run at York last time. She’s been very unlucky not to be placed in the Falmouth or the Rothschild, and hopefully they won’t get too much rain and she can at least do that on Saturday before we put her away for next year. 

“She ran great in the Falmouth, but the winner slightly hampered her at a crucial stage. At Deauville the ground could have been quicker and she just never got a fair crack at it.

“Dreamloper wasn’t disgraced behind No Speak Alexander in the Matron Stakes Ireland last time in a race not run to suit her, and it’s great news that she will probably be staying in training too.”

Underlining the strength in depth of this Sun Chariot Stakes, Just Beautiful, Saffron Beach and Lavender’s Blue all won Group races last time, the last-named taking the notable scalp of Benbatl in Goodwood’s Celebration Mile.

While Shale, who was another who finished down the field in the Matron Stakes, has not been in the best of form, she won the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes for Donnacha O’Brien at two and is another very talented filly.

The field is completed by the former French-trained three-year-old Tahlie, whose win in the Prix Sandringham at Chantilly was her fourth in a row. Her new trainer Roger Varian is looking forward to seeing her in action and said:

“It looks a strong Sun Chariot Stakes but she brings good form from France, where she was a Group 2 winner. We’ll learn a bit more on Saturday, but we’ve been happy with her since she joined us following the Prix Rothschild. She didn’t have much luck there, and she won’t be out of place.”