Newmarket date on Soprano’s agenda

Rockfel and Cheveley Park under consideration for Highclere filly.

Soprano will bid to hit the right note at Newmarket later this month where she will attempt to register her first Group-race success.

George Boughey’s youngster was a fast-finishing third in Salisbury’s Dick Poole Stakes on her most recent run, but connections were left frustrated after their charge reared in the stalls and gave away plenty of ground at the start before storming home to be beaten just one and a quarter lengths in the hands of Ryan Moore.

She will now attempt to set the record straight in either the Al Basti Equiworld, Dubai Rockfel Stakes on September 29 or shoot for Group One gold in the Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes a day later on the Rowley Mile.

“It was just really unfortunate and such a shame,” explained Harry Herbert, managing director of owners Highclere Thoroughbreds.

“She seemed to anticipate the gates and they didn’t open and she sort of got a bit of a fright, went up and then the starter let them go which was infuriating.

“Ryan probably thought he was just going to come home in his own time and then suddenly realised he had an awful lot of horse under him, so it was a hell of a performance under the circumstances.

“I think everyone can see she would have won if she had broken on level terms.”

He went on: “We’re looking at either the Cheveley Park or Rockfel and I think we’ll see the entries for both first.

“At the moment, if you were talking to George, he would probably be edging more to the Cheveley Park. But we want to take our time and see who is doing what and the ground and everything.

“Fingers crossed she is taking her races so well and she’s so tough and as long as George is happy, we will go to Newmarket for one of those two races.”

Soprano burst onto the scene at Newmarket earlier in the season, but since being upped immediately in class for the Albany at Royal Ascot, she has been thwarted in four subsequent outings when running in Pattern company.

Soprano on her way to scoring at Newmarket on debut
Soprano on her way to scoring at Newmarket on debut (David Davies/PA)

Connections feel Soprano certainly does not lack talent and are confident there is plenty to look forward to with the versatile daughter of Starspangledbanner.

“She’s a very very good filly and very special,” continued Herbert.

“She’s had the most extraordinary year where things just haven’t gone right for her. She could have had a few Group races by her name, but that’s racing and sometimes the cards don’t fall quite right for whatever reason.

“Everyone can see how talented she is and she has a size and scope to her so should be even better next year.”

As well as Soprano, Highclere also have Believing housed at Boughey’s Saffron House stables and Herbert was thrilled with her third-placed effort in the Betfair Sprint Cup.

Supplemented into the Haydock Group One at a cost of GBP 20,000, the daughter of Mehmas defied her odds of 66-1 to earn just shy of GBP 46,000 for making the podium.

“She’s such a tough and talented filly and she had worked so well coming into this race and ran a blinder,” said Herbert.

“She showed incredible natural speed and finished her race off really well. Had she been a bit closer to the two in front of her who were racing away from her, who knows, she might have got closer still.”

Believing holds an entry for Ascot’s Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes on October 21 which will form the centrepiece of the filly’s end-of-season programme, but a tilt at ParisLongchamp’s Prix de l’Abbaye on October 1 will now also be considered – despite the progressive speedster again needing to be supplemented.

Believing has progressed throughout the season
Believing has progressed throughout the season (PA)

“Ascot would be the main target and we will look at the Abbaye,” continued Herbert.

“We would have to be forking out again because she’s come forward at such a rate of knots and we didn’t put her in initially. So we would consider supplementing and see how the land lies nearer the time before making a decision about the Abbaye.

“She’s a very, very good filly, a fast filly, and like her father, has this most incredible attitude for the game.

“The way she holds her head is extraordinary and reminds me so much of Mehmas, who stuck his neck out and was really tough. She’s definitely inherited that trait and is a really exciting filly for her shareholders.

“Those horses who give their all are worth their weight in gold. She goes on any ground, has a wagon load of speed and, touch wood, she’s been so far very sound. Everyone had a great day at Haydock and hopefully there is a lot more to come.”

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