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Amazing Maria primed for Falmouth defence

6 Jul 2016

David O'Meara expects grey mare to give Usherette lot more to think about than the last time they met

Amazing Maria Lockinge Splash

Amazing Maria won twice at the highest level last summer. Picture: Racingfotos.com

Dual Group 1 winner Amazing Maria is ready to do battle with old rivals Usherette in the Tattersalls 250th Year Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket’s Adnams July Course on Friday.

Run over a mile for a total prize fund of £200,000, this Group 1 event is the second day highlight of the three-day Moët & Chandon July Festival and is the fourth of seven legs in the Fillies And Mares category of the QIPCO British Champions Series.

Amazing Maria beat Euro Charline by a length when landing this prestigious prize 12 months ago and went on to more Group 1 glory in the Prix Rothschild at Deauville three weeks later.

She began her current campaign with a solid third place, albeit five and a half lengths behind Usherette, in the Group 2 Charm Spirit At Tweenhills In 2017 Dahlia Stakes on Newmarket’s Rowley Mile before finding the soft ground all against her when sixth in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot.

“Amazing Maria won this race last year and has been fine since Royal Ascot,” O’Meara said. “The current fast ground should suit her much better than what she has been encountering so far this season.

“It would be a big statement to say that she is still improving at the age of five, but I think that I have got her in similar form to what she was at this time last year.

“She’s got some ground to make up on Usherette from when they met in the Dahlia, but that was over nine furlongs on softish ground and it was her first run of the year.

“She is much better over a mile on fast ground and, although I couldn’t say that she will beat Usherette, I am sure that the two will finish much closer on Friday.”

Trained by the 27-time French Champion, Andre Fabre, Usherette boosted the Dahlia form and took her own career record to six wins from seven starts with a smooth success in the Group 2 Duke Of Cambridge Stakes, again at Royal Ascot. But that one defeat came in her only previous start in Group 1 company, in the aforementioned Prix Rothschild.

Usherette will represent Godolphin, as will Always Smile and Very Special – both trained by Saeed Bin Suroor.

Alice Springs and Ashadihan are the only two three-year-olds in the line-up and both last ran in the Group 1 Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot, when Alice Springs was an unlucky-in-running third, two and a quarter lengths in front of Ashadihan.

Trained by Aidan O’Brien and previously third in the Group 1 QIPCO 1000 Guineas on the Rowley Mile, Alice Springs is bidding to become the first Irish winner of the Falmouth since 1979.

Euro Charline has also been declared but her owners said on Wednesday she had been retired after suffering a tendon injury. Marco Botti’s filly won the Grade 1 Beverly D Stakes in Chicago back in 2014, and has produced lifetime best efforts in other Group 1s on each of her last two starts – when second in the Dubai Turf at Meydan and the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury.