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Alanza to maintain strike rate for Oxx

Sahpresa will this afternoon seek to become the first horse to triumph for a third time in the Kingdom Of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket.

A shock winner at odds of 16/1 in 2009, she obliged at 9/2 last year, and her supporters might well argue that bookmakers are once again underestimating her today given that she can be backed at about 2/1.

Even though the French-based filly has won only a Group Three in the interim, she has run brilliantly to be placed in each of the five Group Ones that she has contested in that time.

In particular, when you consider Sahpresa's narrow defeats to Immortal Verse and Goldikova, 2/1 certainly seems generous.

There are just two other previous winners at this level among her seven rivals -- the respective 2010 and 2011 Falmouth victors Music Show and Timepiece -- and Sahpresa has readily accounted for both before.

With all the older horses in the race fairly well established for what they are, then, the issue to focus on is whether or not either of the two Irish-trained three-year-olds, Alanza and Together, can challenge the favourite.

Representing Ballydoyle, Together cannot be discounted, but she has run in this grade half a dozen times already.

While she has always acquitted herself with credit, including when second to Emulous in the Matron Stakes last time, she is an open book at this stage, so 9/1 is probably a fair reflection of her chance.

Alanza, on the other hand, is debuting in Group One company and comes here on a steep upward curve.

A keen runner that has learned to settle before challenging late, John Oxx's charge prevailed more comfortably than the neck margin suggests when landing a seven-furlong Group Three at Doncaster two weeks ago.

Having scored twice previously in Listed races, that was her third win on the bounce, and Oxx -- who is two from two in England this term -- has found the ideal opportunity here for such a progressive filly.

If you take out the six-year-old market leader, it is no vintage Group One, and the evidence of Alanza's previous runs hint that today's mile suits her best.

At odds of 7/2, she is a solid option to maintain Oxx's impeccable strike-rate under Johnny Murtagh.

Ger Lyons' Lightening Pearl -- also due to be ridden by Murtagh -- is available at the same price for the day's other Group One, the Cheveley Park Stakes. As Oxx did with Alanza in the Sun Chariot, Lyons coughed up to supplement his filly for this earlier in the week, and it is worth speculating that his judgment will be vindicated.

On paper, Richard Hannon's unbeaten Best Terms sets the standard, but Lightening Pearl was impressive when stretching five lengths clear of Experience in a Group Three at The Curragh last month.

With Experience and the third home An Ghalanta since running well in defeat behind the promising Born To Sea, that form doesn't read badly, so average improvement from Lightening Pearl should see her go close now.


The only cross-channel runner in the Betfred Cambridgeshire is Pires. Representing Tony Martin, who was the last Irish handler to win this with She's Our Mare in 1999, Pires has a squeak, but he has yet to excel over today's nine-furlong trip.

Last year's winner, Credit Swap, is the horse that appeals at massive odds of 33/1. Now in the care of Venetia Williams, the six-year-old caught the eye when keeping on to be sixth at Goodwood recently on his first outing since February.

On what was his only Flat start since swooping to glory here 12 months ago, he showed that he can compete off his current mark. Provided Credit Swap comes on for the run, he will give the unexposed favourite Dare To Dance plenty to think about.

At Market Rasen, Paul Flynn's Archie Boy and Clare MacMahon's Jamsie Hall take in a valuable chase. While Tony McCoy's booking on the latter is of note, that one has been harshly treated by the English handicapper, so Archie Boy is preferred.

Best Bet: Alanza

Irish Independent