Conditions were murky at Ascot on Saturday but the day was lit up by a couple of fillies, Nyaleti in the Princess Margaret and Enable in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
Nyaleti had posted good seconds in both the Chesham (behind September) and in the Duchess of Cambridge (behind Clemmie), but with no Aidan O’Brien raiders at Ascot on Saturday, she gained a deserved pattern-race success, improving significantly in form terms (up 10 lb to 112p) as she ran out a five-length winner. Nyaleti was suited by the emphasis on stamina at six furlongs and though she is entered in the Lowther, the likes of the Rockfel or the Fillies’ Mile could be more suitable targets for her further down the line this season (her dam won at a mile as a two-year-old). Second in the Princess Margaret was Dance Diva, who’d won a listed race at Newmarket on her previous start. Dance Diva (loses her ‘p’, now rated 97) didn’t progress again, but was comfortably on top of the rest of the field.
Nyaleti posted a big figure in the Princess Margaret – only Russian Rhythm (2002) has run to a better rating in the race this century – and Enable’s win in the King George later on the card was similarly impressive both visually and in terms of ratings. She ran to a Timeform rating of 130, 3 lb above the one that Taghrooda posted when winning the race (also as a three-year-old) in 2014. In fact only Novelist (ran to 132 in 2013) and Harbinger (140 in 2010) have run to bigger figures in the last 10 years, and Enable ran to 1 lb higher than her sire Nathaniel achieved when he won the race as a three-year-old in 2011.
Quality fields are required to produce big ratings and this year’s King George was a strong renewal on paper beforehand, featuring the winners of this season’s Eclipse, Coronation Cup/Prince of Wales’s Stakes, Princess of Wales’s Stakes and Hardwicke Stakes. That said, the significant rain in the hour before the race would have counted against a couple of the runners, notably Highland Reel (129), who’d been below form on his previous starts on softer ground and was again below par here. Even with the rain, however, there’s little reason to think the placed horses Ulysses (unchanged on 128) and Idaho (up 1 lb to 126) weren’t somewhere near their best and Enable beat them comprehensively, advertising her Arc claims in the process (now 2/1 ante-post favourite). She’ll be hard to beat wherever we see her next, which could even be as soon as the Yorkshire Oaks.
The York Stakes was the other domestic group race on Saturday and it was fought out between some smart – though not progressive – sorts. Success Days (119, up from 118) was seen to maximum effect from the front but gained reward for some consistent efforts in better races, beating Mondialiste (120 from 118), who was probably unlucky not to win given the way things unfolded.
Aidan O’Brien was out of luck in the best of last week’s British racing, but had a couple of notable winners elsewhere. The Tyros Stakes (Leopardstown, Thursday) has a significant roll of honour, including the likes of Gleneagles, Deauville and Churchill, and this year’s winner The Pentagon (remains on 109p) didn’t strictly have to improve on his eight and a half length maiden win to come out on top. The Pentagon is far from the finished article and is an exciting prospect for next season, already the favourite for the 2018 Derby.
In France Roly Poly (117 from 116) gave another boost to the form of Winter by landing a second Group 1 in the space of a month, taking Sunday’s Prix Rothschild, and showing a most willing attitude to make all under Ryan Moore. Her run style means she will be seen to good effect more times than not, and she will remain competitive in top-level fillies’ races, at least when she is kept apart from her aforementioned dual Guineas-winning stablemate.