Shirocco Star quality out to shine
In his youth, Hughie Morrison saw his father breed two Oaks winners from the same mare, so he could hardly be astounded if two candidates for the same Classic happened to emerge from one stable.
True, the filly he runs at Goodwood today has almost certainly left it too late, but there are certainly auspicious similarities between the one who has already booked her place at Epsom tomorrow week, Shirocco Star, and last year's winner.
Like Dancing Rain, Shirocco Star was beaten in a photo for the Swettenham Stud Trial at Newbury last Friday; and Morrison, like William Haggas last year, anticipates considerable improvement from his filly after her first start outside maiden company.
Likewise, those Ladbrokes punters who yesterday backed Shirocco Star from 33-1 to 20-1.
“She was still a bit green at Newbury,” her trainer said. “And quite rightly, so well was she going, Darryll Holland thought she would quicken up and get to one who, as things turned out, probably had the run of things.
“Nor, again quite rightly, did he want to barge his way out. It was very much part of a process, with this filly, and I was delighted with her run.”
The protagonists drew well clear of Starscope, the 1,000 Guineas runner-up, and Morrison predicts better still over the extra two furlongs in the Oaks.
“She has plenty of speed for a filly bred to get a mile and a half standing on her head,” he said.
“You'd hope that nothing will travel better through the race at Epsom.
“She doesn't appear to have taken a lot out of herself, either, which is good because she can be quite buzzy. In fact, that would be my main concern — how she takes the preliminaries.”
Shirocco Star had coped better than most of his East Ilsley stable with the wet spring; Coquet, in contrast, hastens to the Height Of Fashion Stakes today with some catching up to do.
“I wouldn't be at all surprised if she needed it, because it has been rather a rush getting her there,” Morrison said.
“It's probably extremely optimistic to have left her in the Oaks, but you never know with fillies.
“She's not as showy as Shirocco Star at home, but she's quite tough and I do remember deep depression in the house after Juliette Marny's work, a week before she won the 1975 Oaks.”
Incidentally when that filly's half-sister Scintillate followed suit at Epsom four years later, she warmed up in the same Newbury race as Shirocco Star.
On a diverse Tipperary card notable for its point-to-point element, Willie McCreery and Pat Smullen are napped to land the five-furlong handicap courtesy of Judies Child tonight.
With 18 set to do battle for a €5,520 prize, this could be a pretty open contest.
The three-year-old Possible, well supported when successful at Naas, could still have a big say off a 9lb higher mark but has a lot on its plate with top weight in all-aged company.
Although Red Sea Poll and Michael Halford's Steely Grace are others that may be unexposed, Judies Child shaped with eye-catching encouragement on her seasonal reappearance on the all-weather at Dundalk.
Having raced close to the pace, her run only flattened out inside the distance, as she filled the runner-up berth for a third time in five career starts.
If Judies Child improves at all for the outing, she should go very close now off a pound higher rating, with Smullen's booking an obvious bonus.
Smullen also has a decent mount on Modern Romance — successful on its only outing as a juvenile for Dermot Weld last year — in the Follow@Tipperaryraces On Twitter conditions race this evening.