By Simon Jackson.
Covert Love heads the market at 9-2 as 16 runners go forward for the QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes on Champions Day at Ascot on Saturday.
The Darley Irish Oaks winner looks set to make a swift return to action after her tenacious victory in the Group 1 Prix de l’Opera at Longchamp on October 4.
In Paris, the Hugo Palmer-trained filly soon led in the 10 furlong contest and fought well when headed in the last furlong to reclaim the advantage and score by a head from Jazzi Top.
The daughter of Azamour is reported to be in good order after the French race and Palmer says that he has no concerns about her stepping back up to the mile and a half distance of Saturday’s Group 1 contest.
“She’s been amazing since the Prix de l’Opera,” Palmer said. “I’m bowled over by how fresh she’s been since she came back. She went to Paris and had what looked like a tough race and but she barely blew afterwards.
“She lost 8kg in the whole thing and you can lose more than that racing at Newmarket. She’s taken everything well and is eating up.”
“She’s certainly outstayed Jazzi Top and I think if we’d had another half a furlong we’d have won more easily. I have no concerns coming back to a mile and a half.”
“We didn’t make all in the Irish Oaks but she likes to go forward. We’re not going to get in to a battle for the lead but we’re happy to take it up.”
Covert Love heads the betting from the French-trained runners Candarliya and Sea Calisi, who like Aidan O’Brien’s Tapestry are all best priced at 7-1.
Another runner near the top of the market is Ladbrokes St Leger winner Simple Verse (8-1), who was first past the post at Doncaster, lost the race on protest, but was reinstated as the winner after a successful appeal against the demotion.
Trainer Ralph Beckett said: “She worked this morning [Monday] and worked well. We’re very happy with her. We run. We know she’s beaten the colts but running against her own sex is the key to running in this race [instead of the Qipco Long Distance Cup].”
“I think she’s improved as the year has gone on – she’s battle-hardened and a mile and a half won’t hold any concerns. She doesn’t seem dependent on ground. She won on fast in the summer.”
“I think she’s surprised herself [with her progress] never mind the rest of us. It’s been great fun and we’ve had a great trip – hopefully we can finish it off on Saturday.”
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