Johnston insists Lumiere has stamina for QIPCO 1000 Guineas
29 Apr 2016
Cheveley Park winner among final field of 16 for fillies’ Classic at Newmarket on Sunday
Lumiere on her way to winning at Newmarket in impressive style last season. Image courtesy of Racingfotos.com.
Mark Johnston is adamant that Lumiere will not be betrayed by lack of stamina when she contests the QIPCO 1000 Guineas at Newmarket on Sunday.
The striking grey will face 15 rivals in the fillies’ Classic, which is run over the straight mile of the Rowley Mile course and is the second race of the QIPCO British Champions Series. This year it carries record prize money of £500,000.
Lumiere made a deep impression when beating Sharja Queen by six lengths on her debut in a maiden on the July Course last summer and dug deep to land the Group One Connolly Red Mills Cheveley Park Stakes back at Headquarters on her final start in late September.
In between, she had finished runner-up to Besharah in the Pinsent Masons Lowther Stakes at York.
The exuberant daughter of Shamardal will be having her first run beyond six furlongs but the similarly speedy Attraction overcame the same obstacle when landing the 1000 Guineas for Johnston in 2004.
“Some sceptics question Lumiere getting a mile but I am not one of them,” Johnston said. “There is no doubt in my mind that she will stay the trip.
“I can see why some may doubt her, because she is very fast and has so much early speed, but she has been very settled in her work at home and been very relaxed on both her racecourse gallops [at Haydock and Newmarket].”
He added: “Lumiere is one of my favourites. She is right up there in my top three two-year-olds of all time, now we shall see if she can graduate to the same bracket as a three-year-old.”
Aidan O’Brien has trained the winners of 23 British Classics – it may be 24 by the time the race is run because his two runners in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas a day earlier include hot favourite Air Force Blue – but his record in the QIPCO 1000 Guineas, by his exalted standards, is not compelling.
He has had two winners (Virginia Waters at 12-1 in 2005 and Homecoming Queen at 25-1 seven years later) from 29 runners.
Three of his beaten runners have started favourite – Rumplestiltskin in 2006, Maybe in 2012 and Tapestry in 2014 – and in total all 11 of his contenders to have started at single-figure odds have been defeated.
Those statistics do not augur well for Minding, the favourite, who will be ridden by Ryan Moore or general third favourite Ballydoyle, who will be ridden Seamie Heffernan.
However, the pair look to have plenty going for them in terms of form as both are Group One winners proven over a mile.
They have met twice before, with each chalking up a success at the expense of the other.
Ballydoyle came out on top in the Group Two Debutante Stakes on fast ground at the Curragh in August but Minding turned the tables when they clashed again, on a slower surface, in the Group One Moyglare Stud Stakes over the same course and distance three weeks later.
That created debate as to which of the pair was superior before they went their separate ways at the backend of the season.
Ballydoyle won the Group One Prix Marcel Boussac over a mile at Longchamp at the chief expense of Turret Rocks and then, five days later, it was a case of anything you can do, I can do better as Minding turned the Group One Dubai Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket into a procession.
Minding won by four and a half lengths from Nathra and Moore, never one for hyperbole, could not have been more complimentary afterwards. She was crowned Europe’s champion two-year-old filly.
Alice Springs, easily excused a below-par effort on heavy going at Leopardstown on her return, gives O’Brien another plausible player. The mount of Colm O’Donoghue was not far behind Minding or Ballydoyle in the Moyglare and was a close fourth to Lumiere in the Cheveley Park.
Nathra was no match for Minding in the Fillies’ Mile but took another step forward under Frankie Dettori when landing the Group Three Lanwades Stud Nell Gwyn Stakes in convincing style over 7f on her return at Newmarket this month, when she had Robanne (third) and Mix And Mingle (fourth) behind.
However, John Gosden, the champion trainer, recognises she faces no easy task reversing the Fillies’ Mile form. “Minding is the most impressive Fillies’ Mile winner I’ve ever seen,” he said afterwards.
A total of 8mm of rain fell at Newmarket on Thursday night into this morning, resulting in the going being changed to good to soft.
Richard Hannon has warned that Illuminate, runner-up in the Cheveley Park having previously been unbeaten in three previous starts, could miss the race if he deems ground conditions unsuitable.
Brian Meehan would also like conditions to dry up a bit for his challenger, Blue Bayou, who he felt was not seen to best advantage when well adrift of Minding and Ballydoyle in the Moyglare because of the easy surface and the tactical nature of the race.
Conversely, connections of the Adrian Keatley-trained Jet Setting, who was supplemented on Monday, will have welcomed the wet weather. Her victories at Cork and Leopardstown this season have been achieved in the mud.
Midweek, runner-up in the Group Three Imprudence on her reappearance at Maisons-Laffitte, will seek to become the fourth French-trained winner in the past eight years. She is trained by Criquette Head-Maarek, successful with Ravinella (1988), Hatoof (1992) and Special Duty (2010).
Alice Springs (IRE), Aljazzi (GB), Ballydoyle (IRE), Blue Bayou (GB), Epsom Icon (GB), Fireglow (GB), Illuminate (IRE), Jet Setting (IRE), Lumiere (GB), Midweek (GB), Minding (IRE), Mix And Mingle (IRE), Nathra (IRE), Robanne (GB), Sharja Queen (GB), Turret Rocks (IRE).