By Simon Jackson.
French trainer Francois Doumen is confident Sea Calisi can reverse the Darley Yorkshire Oaks placings with favourite Covert Love in the QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.
Covert Love and Sea Calisi finished second and third to Pleascach in the Yorkshire Oaks, with only two necks separating the first three in the 12 furlong race in August.
At York Sea Calisi finished fast after racing in the midfield and Doumen believes the daughter of Youmzain – who at her last start finished third to Treve in the Qatar Prix Vermeille – could have finished closer with more luck in running.
“Sea Calisi ran a very good race in the Prix Vermeille – she would have been second rather than third if she had been ridden to get that position rather than try and beat Treve as she did – and that form was franked when the runner-up won a Group 2 on Arc weekend,” Doumen said.
“Her run in the Yorkshire Oaks was also very encouraging – she might have beaten Covert Love if she had not got stuck in traffic – and I am confident that she has a very good chance of reversing those placings.”
“We avoided the Arc weekend so that she will be fresher than a few of her rivals and I think that I have got her at her best at the moment.”
“I am not really bothered about the ground for her – she has won on bottomless and on fast – but softer ground might inconvenience her rivals.”
“It’s about time I had another winner at Ascot as I have not won anything there since Baracouda won the last of his three Long Walk Hurdles [in 2003]. I have never had a flat winner there – the closest we came was when Top Trip got a bit squashed and finished third behind the Queen’s horse [Estimate] in the Gold Cup two years ago.”
Sea Calisi is best priced at 13-2 for Saturday’s race, behind Candarliya (5-1) and the Hugo Palmer-trained Prix de l’Opera winner Covert Love (9-2).
“Covert Love’s been amazing since the Prix de l’Opera,” Palmer said earlier this week. “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 but she barely blew afterwards.”
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