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Sweet Solera Stakes Preview: Pennywhistle to blow rivals away

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Andrew Asquith previews the Sweet Solera Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday and picks out his best bet.

The Sweet Solera Stakes has tended to go to more unexposed fillies in recent years, nine of the last 10 winners all having the Timeform ‘p’ – which denotes a horse is open to improvement. More than half of the field at the five-day stage for this year’s renewal have the ‘p’, but it is the two more experienced fillies, La Pelosa and Main Edition, who set a clear standard on Timeform weight-adjusted ratings.

The Mark Johnston-trained Main Edition won her first three starts to date, notably the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot by a neck from La Pelosa, making her experience tell and proving herself a useful filly. They both lined up in the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes over six furlongs here next time, but both can be forgiven that run, badly hampered over a furlong out and near enough brought to a standstill. The form of that race is working out well, with the second winning the Princess Margaret Stakes at Ascot in ready fashion, and the seventh has also won since. However, La Pelosa could only finish third in a listed race over this trip at Sandown more recently, and both may be susceptible to some later-maturing fillies here.

One who definitely has the scope to bridge the gap on form is Pennywhistle, who was a cosy winner of a minor event over C&D last month. She had shown plenty to work on when finishing third on debut at Kempton (the winner has subsequently beaten La Pelosa), but she didn’t need to improve on that form to open her account, firmly leaving the impression that she has merely scratched the surface of her ability. John Gosden has shown on numerous occasions in the past that he isn’t afraid to fast track his juveniles, and Pennywhistle commands plenty of respect with that in mind.

Richard Hannon has won the last two renewals of this race, and he is responsible for Ajrar and Alhakmah, respectively.  The former made a very good impression when making a winning debut over six furlongs at Lingfield last month, and was far from disgraced in listed company at Sandown last time (finished one place in front of La Pelosa). Ajrar did best of those ridden more patiently that day (winner made all), seemingly lacking the know-how of some, and she remains open to improvement moving forward. Alhakmah finished a most encouraging second on debut at Goodwood last week, just not quite clued up enough to make a winning debut, finishing very strongly on the stands rail. It was hard not to be taken by that run, and she looks well up to winning a similar event; it will be interesting if connections feel she is ready for this test so early in her career.

Accordance also ran at Goodwood last week, putting her experience to good use to open her account at the second attempt.  She showed a good attitude to fend off the challengers in the final furlong, digging deep under pressure, and she seems sure to be suited by at least a mile. Admittedly, this will require more, but she’s the type to keep on progressing for a while yet, and shouldn’t be underestimated.

Richard Spencer is enjoying another good season with his two-year-olds and California Love was much improved from her debut when winning a minor event over C&D last time, clear over a furlong out and staying on strongly in the closing stages. That was an auction event, which tends to be a bit below the normal novice level, but she won well enough and connections are right to have a crack at this.

Irish challenger Chicago May is bred to make a two-year-old and belied her starting price to make a winning start at Naas last month, produced to lead over a furlong out and driven out to win by two and a half lengths. She is the only juvenile winner for trainer Henry de Bromhead so far this year, who is more renowned as a jumps trainer, but shouldn’t be underestimated if taking her chance.

Of the remainder, Impulsion perhaps makes the most appeal on form, for all she is yet to progress from her winning debut, while Miss Celestial and Model Guest both have a bit to find to mix it at this level.

Conclusion

This looks an open renewal, with the two at the head of the market, La Pelosa and Main Edition, both vulnerable to any improvers. There are several fillies who have the potential to make the requisite improvement, but perhaps none more so than the twice-raced Pennywhistle. She left the impression that she was yet to move out of third gear when opening her account here last time, and she is fancied to give John Gosden a second winner in this Group 3, having won it with Rainbow View in 2008.

Recommended bet:

Back Pennywhistle at 5/1 for the Sweet Solera Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday

 

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