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Old rivals Sky Lantern and Hot Snap head a fantastic field of 15 in the Markel Insurance Nassau Stakes

1 Aug 2013

Sky Lantern will look to make up for her recent Newmarket reverse in a cracking renewal of the Markel Insurance Nassau Stakes. If successful, she will be the only horse other than Frankel to win three Series races in a season.

Hot Snap, not seen since her QIPCO 1000 Guineas flop, was impressive when beating the grey Sky Lantern in the Nell Gwyn and will look to get her season back on track on Saturday. Image courtesy of racingfotos.com.

The best Fillies & Mares race of the QIPCO British Champions Series so far this season, a red-hot field of 15 horses will go to post for Saturday’s Markel Insurance Nassau Stakes.

The favourite looks sure to be Sky Lantern, representing the irrepressible Hannon-Hughes team who have dominated Glorious Goodwood for the last few seasons.

Considered unlucky by many in the Etihad Airways Falmouth Stakes, when intimidated as she lost out by a neck to Elusive Kate, she had looked in a class of her own before that reverse.

Brilliant winner of the Coronation Stakes and QIPCO 1000 Guineas earlier in the season, if she copes with the step up to a mile and a quarter, she must have a great chance of victory unless three races in a relatively short space of time catch up with her.

Her connections are confident she will stay and if she wins, she will become the first horse other than the mighty Frankel to win three QIPCO British Champions Series races in one season.

She will be taken on by Just The Judge, whom she has beaten twice – narrowly in the QIPCO 1000 Guineas and emphatically in the Coronation Stakes.

On that form, it’s hard to fancy Just The Judge, but her connections have always seen her as a mile and a quarter filly and if the extra two furlongs bring about significant improvement, she could still have a say in the outcome.

The Investec Oaks runner-up, Secret Gesture, drops back two furlongs and this could prove her ideal trip.

She was in front at Epsom just inside the final furlong until her stablemate, Talent, motored past.

Talent failed to uphold that form in the Irish Oaks, however, so that leaves a question mark as to how strong a race the Investec Oaks was.

The highly regarded Hot Snap decisively beat Sky Lantern in the Nell Gwyn Stakes in April before flopping in the QIPCO 1000 Guineas.

Admittedly Sky Lantern was not fully fit in the Nell Gwyn and was conceding three pounds in weight, but it was nonetheless a very taking performance by Hot Snap.

They have taken their time with her at Lady Cecil’s Warren Place stables since the Guineas as she is not a straightforward filly, but she unquestionably has the potential to be top notch so must enter calculations for Saturday’s race.

The vibes are very strong in Newmarket for three-year-old filly Integral, who is unbeaten in two starts (one at Goodwood, where course form is always an advantage) and trained by the in-form Sir Michael Stoute.

She will need to improve further to win, but that looks almost certain to happen and the step up in trip from a mile should suit her very well.

Just Pretending looks the stronger of the Aidan O’Brien duo and can’t be ruled out, though will probably need to find more to win.

Of the older fillies and mares, Sajjhaa proved top class in Dubai this spring but has never quite reached that level of form in the UK, Ambivalent is improving but will need to find more to take a hand, while Moment In Time surely needs a longer trip to be seen at her best.

Three-year-olds have dominated over the last 20 years with 15 victories against just five for the older generations.

Favourites have a good record, with 12 of the last 20 victorious.