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Simon Mapletoft on the AWC: Horses to follow – Fillies and Mares

Last season’s runner-up Lamar could be back for more in what promises to be an even more competitive division.

No filly displayed the versatility of James Tate’s Lamar last winter. She demonstrated a rare ability to compete with some of the best All-Weather horses in training over seven furlongs, a mile and a mile and a quarter. Indeed, her short-head second to the prolific Grendisar in the Listed Winter Derby Trial proved to be her most memorable moment. Tate’s difficult decision to swerve the Coral Easter Classic in favour of the Fillies and Mares backfired when she was dealt a desperate draw. However, she almost overcame it to get within a neck of French winner Fresles. Options remain open but qualification for Good Friday off a starting mark of 97 is all but guaranteed.

Ishiamber was saved for a turf campaign despite being a multiple winner on sand last winter, but George Baker could be tempted to target the distaff prize with a mare who has progressed to a rating of 91. She runs the Final trip – seven furlongs at Lingfield -well, as she proved in a narrow defeat to Valbchek in April, and will definitely be among the stronger contenders.

Mick Appleby’s Maggie Pink, who was third in the inaugural final, refuses to be written off. She has posted another fine set of form figures on turf this year, culminating in victory in a valuable handicap at Chester at the end of September. Now a six-year-old, she remains vulnerable to more progressive fillies as she was against the likes of Lamar and Don’t Be last winter, but is effective on all surfaces and is well enough treated to capitalise against her own sex.

Marco Botti’s Mount Nelson filly Alfajer looks the type to progress this winter, given her aptitude for the sand. She showed her potential with a seven-furlong maiden win at Lingfield last October and posted a game effort in defeat at Kempton in June en route to gaining valuable black type at Ascot. A seven-furlong specialist, she will probably need to improve on her rating to be considered a serious contender for the Final but has the scope to bridge the gap if she remains in training.

pillies mares

Golden Amber took a while to fulfil her promise when she first joined Dean Ivory from Ireland last year but has developed into a smart All-Weather operator with a particular penchant for Chelmsford City. Rated around 100, she has the speed to win over six furlongs but also stays the Final trip of seven as she proved behind subsequent Listed winner Don’t Be at Wolverhampton last term.

Look out, too, for Roger Varian’s filly Ajaadat if she ventures back onto sand. She finished with a flourish to win a mile handicap at Chelmsford in September. Her style of racing is well suited to this code and there is definite scope for improvement off a rating in the high 80s.

James Fanshawe often unearths a progressive All-Weather runner and may choose to persevere with the lightly races Fly, who shaped with promise when winning on her second career start over a mile at Kempton. A half-sister to the trainer’s Group One winner Seal Of Approval, she has plenty of scope for improvement off a mark in the mid-70s and could have a Fast Track Qualifier at her mercy at the very least.

Saeed Bin Suroor’s filly Lovely Memory broke her maiden over a mile at Chelmsford in September, having run subsequent Pattern performer Jellicle Ball close over seven at Kempton, and has more to offer on the synthetics. Lightly campaigned, this three-year-old daughter of Shamardal has room for manoeuvre off a mark in the high 80s.