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Four declared for select Etihad Airways Falmouth Stakes

10 Jul 2013

Only four runners are set to go to post for Friday's Etihad Airways Falmouth Stakes but they include the top three-year-old filly of the season so far in Sky Lantern and two of the best older female milers in Europe, Giofra and Elusive Kate.

Sky Lantern (left) wins the QIPCO 1000 Guineas – can she win her third Fillies & Mares race on Friday? Image courtesy of

The Etihad Airways Falmouth Stakes is likely to see the smallest QIPCO British Champions Series field of the year and by far the most likely winner is the red-hot favourite, Sky Lantern, who has won the QIPCO 1000 Guineas and Coronation Stakes, two of the three Fillies & Mares races run in the Series so far.

She was so impressive on fast ground at Royal Ascot and with another fast surface guaranteed on a track she handled really well last season, she will be very hard to beat in race four in the Fillies & Mares division.

With such a small field it could become tactical with perhaps a slow early pace which may not seem ideal considering her connections feel that she could be even better over a longer trip.

However, she has such acceleration that even that may play to her strengths.

Having dominated her own generation, the one unknown is how she will cope against two of the best older female milers in Britain and France, Elusive Kate and Giofra.

On official ratings, there is little between them.

Elusive Kate was a solid fourth behind Declaration Of War in the Queen Anne and should improve for that first run of the season, while she was a good second in this race a year ago on her first start of that season.

The filly that narrowly beat Elusive Kate in last year’s Falmouth was Giofra, but that race was run on soft ground whereas the ground will be at the other end of the scale on Friday.

Her trainer has already said that he wouldn’t want to risk her on fast ground, a surface she has never encountered before, but the fact that there are only three opponents may have been the deciding factor in declaring her to run.

There are grounds to think that the fourth runner, Purr Along, will come last – she is the lowest-rated in the field, ten pounds behind Sky Lantern and six below the other two – but on the other hand it’s impossible to know how good she might be.

Like Elusive Kate, she made her seasonal debut at Royal Ascot, finishing 9¾ lengths behind Sky Lantern, but she was hampered in the race and her connections, who rate her highly, knew she would need the run.

It’s worth noting that Richard Hannon Jr, assistant trainer of Sky Lantern, said when weighing up the opposition to his stable star: “I was impressed with the way Purr Along ran and she will obviously improve a lot for the run.”

Since the race was elevated to Group 1 status in 2004, there are two worrying trends for Sky Lantern supporters – in that period one 1000 Guineas winner, Attraction in 2004, and two Coronation Stakes winners, Nannina in 2006 and Lillie Langtry in 2010, have contested the Falmouth Stakes and all three were beaten, while there have been two odds-on favourites in that time, Attraction in 2004 and Golden Lilac last year, and both were defeated.