Streaking Alpinista Favored In Thursday's Yorkshire Oaks - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report
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Streaking Alpinista Favored In Thursday’s Yorkshire Oaks

Tuesday, shown after her win in the Epsom Oaks, will take on Alpinista in Thursday’s Yorkshire Oaks

This will not be Alpinista's first Darley Yorkshire Oaks (Group 1) on Thursday at York Racecourse, but this time it's a very different scenario to 2020.

When Alpinista finished a five-length second to the QIPCO 1000 Guineas and Oaks winner Love two years ago it was almost as if she had won, for she was a 33-1 chance and wouldn't even have been running but for the revised entry protocols introduced because of Covid-19.

Fast forward to 2022 and Kirsten Rausing's Frankel filly is the favorite following four straight Group 1 wins, the most recent of them in the historic Grand Prix De Saint-Cloud – preferred in the betting to the winners of the Cazoo Oaks and the Juddmonte Irish Oaks in a field of seven for a highly competitive £500,000 affair, which is the second of four races at York this week in the QIPCO British Champions Series.

The Yorkshire Oaks is also a “Win and You're In” race for the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf this fall at Keeneland.

Looking back at Alpinista's first Yorkshire Oaks, her trainer Sir Mark Prescott recalled: “It was a great piece of placing at the time. She'd never have been in it if it had been an early-closing race, as it usually is, but she'd just won the Listed Upavon Stakes at Salisbury and we felt we had nothing to lose at that stage of her career. Finishing second was like having a major win.

“You never know how far a filly like her might go, but she was progressing fast at the time, and her mother Alwilda was better when she was five. Her grandmother Albanova didn't win all of those Group 1s until she was five, so the fact that it's a family which keeps progressing gave us hope. Since then she's been very professional in an under the radar way.”

Albanova won her three Group 1s in Germany, and it was there that Sir Mark campaigned Alpinista so successfully in the second half of 2021, winning the Grosser Preis von Berlin, where she beat the subsequent Arc winner Torquator Tasso, and then the Preis von Europa (which Albanova also won) and the Grosser Preis von Bayern.

German Group 1s are not always accorded the respect they possibly deserve but the Coronation Cup, which Alpinista missed last year after a dirty scope, was Sir Mark's initial target for 2022, followed by the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes, which shows how highly regarded she was.

Unfortunately, the Heath House team were generally slow to come to hand and Alpinista was no exception. Sir Mark confirmed: “She just wouldn't come in her coat and having missed the Coronation again the timing meant that we had to start her off at Saint-Cloud instead.

“It was harder after she won in France to say that her form wasn't good, although we had a slice of luck in that the ground was quite firm and everyone else was disappointed that it wasn't the 'good to soft' that was advertised.

“Luke (Morris) was very determined not to get caught flat footed by sitting until they straightened up, and I think it was a race-winning move to get going around the outside and not lose momentum. It meant she was rolling while the rest were hanging on to quicken up, and it enabled her to shoot clear.”

Sir Mark always looks forward to the Ebor meeting and said: “York has been very lucky to us, as we've had Pivotal and Marsha win the Nunthorpe and we've won the Ebor (with Hasten To Add) and also the Magnet Cup (now John Smith's, with Pasternak and Foreign Affairs), all with not many runners.”

He also has painful memories of the narrow defeat of 2017 Ebor favorite Flymetothestars at the hands of Nakeeta, but he is optimistic about Alpinista, while at the same time having all due respect for rivals like Magical Lagoon and Tuesday.

Provided all goes well at York Alpinista will be heading to Longchamp for the Arc, in which she is already pressing for favoritism. She will be only the stable's second runner in the race, although Marsha won the Prix de l'Abbaye on Arc day in 2016.

Sir Mark confirmed: “I think she's third favorite for the Arc, and that's an unusual position for me to find myself in. I've only had one runner in it before, and that was Foreign Affairs, who ran very well behind Sakhee in 2001.

“That's hopefully the main target after York, but she will be kept in the QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares at Ascot as well, although Miss Rausing has some other very nice fillies entered there and she probably has Albaflora (a short-head second last year) earmarked for it. We'll keep our options open though.”

Alpinista faces a strong challenge from Ireland, which provides the next three in the betting. It can come as no surprise that one of them is trained by six-time Yorkshire Oaks winner Aidan O'Brien, whose Oaks winner Tuesday bids to follow in the footsteps of Love (2020) and Snowfall (2021), who both also won the Epsom Classic.

Tuesday has since finished only when fourth taking on the colts in the Irish Derby, but that was a muddling affair which O'Brien noted “was in two halves and the first three got away.”

Jessica Harrington's Irish Oaks winner Magical Lagoon, successful previously in the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot and still possibly improving, has a similar chance to Tuesday on paper, while Paddy Twomey's La Petite Coco has yet to be beaten in a Group race, having followed last year's Group 3 and Group 2 wins with a Group 1 defeat of My Astra in the Pretty Polly Stakes at The Curragh on her reappearance in June.

Twomey has not been placed with any of five previous runners in Britain, but he goes from strength to strength at home in Ireland and has a big week ahead of him as his York team also includes the Tote Ebor favorite Earl Of Tyrone.

He said: “We are looking forward to running La Petite Coco in the Yorkshire Oaks, which has been the plan all year. We very much had the second half of the season in mind from the start of the year and always planned to start her campaign where we did in the Pretty Polly. This was the next step that we had in mind.

“She's a good filly and she's in good form. The Pretty Polly was a mile and a quarter but she's won at a mile and a half and I'd say that's her ideal trip. She might go to the Breeders' Cup later, but not necessarily. There are other races (including the QIPCO British Champions Fillies and Mares) and I think wherever her chance looks best her owners Team Valor will be happy to go.”

Andre Fabre saddles an interesting runner in Raclette, an improving filly by Frankel from a good Judmonte family and the winner of a Listed race and a Group 2 at Longchamp on her last two starts.

The field is completed by the Qatar Nassau Stakes third Lilac Road, a Group 2 winner at York earlier and stepping up in distance, and Poptronic, a Group 3 winner on Tapeta at Newcastle.

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