Trainer Roger Charlton’s unbeaten filly Quadrilateral heads up a field of 15 challengers for the fillies’ Classic, the QIPCO 1000 Guineas at Newmarket on Sunday.
The Frankel filly, who will be equipped with a first-time tongue strap, won each of her three races last year, signing off with a tenacious success in the Group One bet365 Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket in October, when Love (third) and Boomer (fifth) finished behind her.
She has been at the head of the ante-post betting for the QIPCO British Champions Series contest ever since, but Charlton has warned she is unlikely to be at her peak.
He said: “Her preparation would have been helped if we’d had some rain, so that we could have perhaps been able to do a bit more work with her. She’s a big strong filly, much like a colt really, and needs plenty of work. I’d expect her improve for the race and I’d expect her to stay beyond a mile.
“We’ve had the driest May on record, which has not made life easy. Ideally, it would have been nice to have a prep race, but otherwise she looks really well and is in good heart. Hopefully it’s a long season and there are plenty of races.”
Asked about her main attributes, he said: “She looked very tough last season, she stayed well and fought back from an unpromising position [to win the Fillies’ Mile]. I guess this weekend will be the first time she would have run on quick ground, so that will be interesting. There is plenty of competition and the Cheveley Park form looks good.”
Charlton trained Kind, the dam of Frankel, and also guided the brief career of Nimble Thimble, the dam of Quadrilateral. He said: “The trait most of them [Frankel’s stock] share is that they are good racehorses, he’s stamping his stock. Nimble Thimble was of average ability, but from a very good family.”
There are two other previous Group One winners in the line-up in the shape of Millisle, trained by Jessica Harrington, and Love, one of three challengers for Aidan O’Brien.
Millisle raced exclusively over sprint distances last year but there is stamina in her pedigree and she stayed on strongly when landing the Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket in late September.
She was chased home by Raffle Prize, who landed two Group Two prizes last summer (the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot and bet365-sponsored Duchess of Cambridge Stakes at Newmarket) and reopposes on Sunday.
Love landed the Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh in September, before finishing third to Quadrilateral in the Fillies’ Mile. She will seek to give Aidan O’Brien a sixth QIPCO 1000 Guineas triumph, with his previous winners being Virginia Waters (2005), Homecoming Queen (2012), Minding (2016), Winter (2017) and Hermosa (2019).
The master of Ballydoyle said: “We’ve always liked Love. She’s a very straightforward. She ran in [the Fillies’ Mile at] Newmarket with the view that she might come back for the Guineas. We were very happy with her run and she will stay further.”
Rose Of Kildare won twice at Group Three level last year – the William Hill Firth of Clyde Stakes at Ayr when beating Graceful Magic and Godolphin Lifetime Care Oh So Sharp Stakes at Newmarket – and bargain buy Under The Stars, who changed hands for just 6,000gns as a yearling, also won at that level in the Princess Margaret Keeneland Stakes at Ascot in July.
Summer Romance surrendered her unbeaten record in the Princess Margaret, after going off at odds-on, and was subsequently third in the Shadwell Dick Poole Fillies’ Stakes at Salisbury. She had won her first two starts at Yarmouth and Newmarket in great style and Charlie Appleby, her trainer, is hoping a break has revived her.
He said: “She’s one filly who I’d have liked to seen in a trial, although she’s done very well through winter and homework has been pleasing us. She was disappointing at Ascot but we put a line through that as she got upset in the preliminaries and it was soft ground. And when William got off her at Salisbury he said she’d gone weak and so we put her away.”
The blue colours of Godolphin will also be carried by Final Song, who was third in the Saudi Derby at King Abdulaziz on her latest start. She is the only runner in the field to have had a previous run this year.
Richard Hannon struck with Billesdon Brook two years ago and this time relies on Cloak Of Spirits, who was having only her third start when a close third in the Group Two Shadwell Rockfel Stakes at Newmarket in September.
John Gosden and Frankie Dettori will team up with Shimmering, an easy winner at Lingfield in December, while Karl Burke, who saddled Laurens to finish second in 2018, will be hoping to go one better with Yes Always, who looked a smart prospect when winning on her debut at Newcastle in October.
The line-up is completed by Les Hogues, who will be having his first start for George Baker after being placed in Group company in France last year, and Romsey, a Listed winner in Germany.
As with all races being run in Britain, the QIPCO 1000 Guineas will be run behind closed doors with strict protocols in place.