Certify offers hint of classic quality
She has some chunky statistics to defy in the future, but for the mom-ent the classy young filly Certify is heading in the right direction. The daughter of Elusive Quality maintained her unbeaten record at Newmarket with a clear-cut success in the afternoon's two-year-old feature, the Sweet Solera Stakes, and so moved up the betting for next year's 1,000 Guineas.
The 11-8 favourite yesterday, she showed the change of gear needed in a potentially high-class animal after Mickael Barzalona sent her to the front before the final furlong and a commendable attitude to her job as she stayed on up the rising ground to the finish, holding off Sky Lantern by a length.
She is now as short as 10-1 for next year's Classic, with only the Royal Ascot winner Newfangled ahead of her in the lists. But although some smart fillies have won yesterday's seven-furlong contest in the past – including Soviet Song, Maids Causeway and Rainbow View – none has tasted 1,000 Guineas glory.
Certify, trained by Mahmood Al Zarooni, was the fourth successive Sweet Solera winner for the Godolphin team, but again she must fare better in the future than her predecessors Long Lashes, White Moonstone and Discourse.
She will now follow the same route as White Moonstone, who did not appear after her unbeaten juvenile career, with the May Hill Stakes and Fillies' Mile on her programme.
This afternoon in France and Ireland the focus is on not only stars of the future but those of the present and past. At the Curragh, Cristoforo Colombo is likely to start favourite to give his trainer, Aidan O'Brien, a 12th victory in 15 runnings of the Phoenix Stakes, the season's first top-level juvenile race, and Harayisa, from the John Oxx yard, will present her credentials for the 1,000 Guineas in the Debutante Stakes.
On the undercard at the Co Kildare track another from Ballydoyle, the champion sprinter of 2010, Starspangledbanner, returns to action after nearly two years off. The six-year-old, winner of the Golden Jubilee Stakes and July Cup in his glory days, resumes his career as an athlete after proving sub-fertile at stud.
At Deauville, his stablemate Excelebration is one of no fewer than nine Group One winners in opposition in the Prix Jacques Le Marois, the latest contest on the European mile circuit. Frankel's serial victim could probably sympathise with Yohan Blake, but even without the presence of his own nemesis his task is formidable. His rivals include the local heroine Moonlight Cloud, a top-class sprinter stepping up in distance, and a trio of raiders from Britain in the Brian Meehan-trained Most Improved and the John Gosden fillies Fallen For You and Elusive Kate.
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