Racing UK ambassador Paul Mulrennan reflects on the Prix de l'Abbaye triumph of Mabs Cross and looks ahead to the weekend racing. Watch him on Sunday when he will be among the guests on Luck On Sunday.
I was disappointed to miss out on the winning ride at Mabs Cross at ParisLongchamp last weekend, but delighted for the team who have managed her so brilliantly.
To keep a filly on the go all season, and at the top of her game, is some achievement, and credit to Michael and Carol Dods and all the staff involved.
Remember she started her season at Bath back in April and hasn’t finished out of the first four in her seven runs. Along the way, she’s won the Palace House Stakes, finished third in the King’s Stand, and was touched off by a nose in the Nunthorpe.
Her win in the Prix de l’Abbaye was sweet compensation for what happened at York, especially for owner David Armstrong, and what makes it even sweeter is that he bred the filly too.
She’s shown she can go on any ground and is as tough as they come. She’s also improved as she’s gone along this season. It looked like she might need six furlongs but she’s learnt to break quicker and not get so outpaced early on.
The really positive thing for me is that I think she can be an even better filly next year.
I think you should treat this sport as a marathon, not a sprint, so you need to see the bigger picture and I have tried not to get frustrated by spending time on the sidelines injured. You just have to accept that it’s part of the game and your time will come again.
While I reflect on Mabs Cross, it’s worth highlighting what an amazing job Michael does with these sprinting fillies. Intense Cross has shown incredible improvement this season to end up winning a Listed race last weekend, and you also can point to Mecca’s Angel and Eastern Angel as further evidence.
I have made no secret of how highly I regard James Doyle and I think he rode a good race on Sea Of Class in the Arc.
They were killed by the draw and he had no choice to drop her out and switch her off. To get her as close to winning as he did was some achievement. It just shows how important a role the luck of the draw can play.
The prospect of a rematch between her and the winner Enable will be something to savour next season.
Stratum the one to beat:
One of the big handicaps of the season, the Dubai £500,000 Cesarewitch Stakes, is staged at Newmarket on Saturday and Stratum gets my vote.
Willie Mullins’ stayer was backed like defeat was out of the question in the Ebor at York, but he was badly hampered and never got a look-in.
I think this step back up in trip and easier ground will all play into his hands and he can give Tony Bloom back-to-back wins after Withhold won for him last year.
Michael saddles Kings Gift in the Download The Coral App Handicap at York and he looks a big price at 20-1. The easier ground will be much more to his liking, compared to what it was when he last ran at York in August. He could easily be placed.
Dave Dexter is another who will love the ground and is improving and can win in the coral.co.uk Rockingham Stakes, while I’d side with Perfect Pasture in the Coral Sprint Trophy Handicap.
The softer the ground, the better for him, and he showed he was as good as ever with a good sixth in the Ayr Gold Cup last time.