Sariska targets a new start
Sariska is reported to be in fine form as she bids to redeem her tarnished reputation in the Qatar Prix Vermeille at Longchamp today.
Her trainer Michael Bell is just hoping last year's dual Oaks heroine does not repeat her antics at York when she refused to come out of the stalls for the Yorkshire Oaks.
The Newmarket handler has left no stone unturned with his team doing their utmost to ensure Lady Bamford's filly consents to race.
"We've had plenty of practice at home with her and we've taken her to Lingfield where we created race conditions as much as possible," said Bell.
"She has behaved beautifully. We've done everything we can. She's been in great form at home, working well and she's got her ground, so ultimately it's up to her now. She was in the stalls at York a long time with the blinds on. I think she just had too much time to think about it all. We just hope we haven't got long faces when the stalls open. If all goes according to plan, she'll be bang there."
Sariska's regular pilot Jamie Spencer has his fingers crossed there will be no hitch. "She's in good form and apparently the ground is soft there at the moment. We've just got to get her out of the gates," Spencer said.
"We won't know until she runs. I rode her when we went to Lingfield on Monday morning and she bounced out perfectly twice. She's had some stalls training and come through it all with flying colours, but there's nothing like the heat of the moment."
Midday took advantage of Sariska's bad behaviour to win at the Knavesmire and Henry Cecil's charge is also among a field of 12.
Christophe Lemaire is expecting a big run from his mount Sarafina, trained by Alain de Royer Dupre. The three-year-old has only had three races but has already won two Group Ones.
"She won the Prix De Diane and she is in excellent condition," he said. "It will be a test for her, the mile and a half, but we hope she will win because she is a high-class filly."
Midday's jockey Tom Queally added on his blog: "It looks a very competitive race, and the French jockeys neither ask for or give favours, but she's been in cracking form since her stunning win in the Yorkshire Oaks last month and goes there with a really good chance.
"She did her final piece of work last Tuesday with her regular work rider, Shane Fetherstonhaugh and went really well, so it's all systems go.
"Sariska, who has had a bit of stalls practice since she refused to leave the starting gate in the Yorkshire Oaks, is a class act and if she behaves herself has to be a big danger. I will also be keeping an eye on the strong local hope Sarafina.
"Midday's win in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf race at Santa Anita last year was little short of sensational, and she will return to America in November for will be back for another crack at that race, this time at Churchill Downs.
"Winning the Breeders' Cup has to be the highlight of my career so far, and I have many fond memories of the day, not the least of which was the way she picked up and ran her heart out for me.
"Let's hope she can do it all again on Sunday."