Burke hoping for Quiet time
The view from connections ahead of the QIPCO British Champions Sprint at Ascot on Saturday.
Quiet Reflection working on the Middleham gallops: Will she be crowned champion sprinter of 2016?
Karl Burke is in confident mood as Quiet Reflection aims to add a third Group One to her already impressive CV in the QIPCO British Champions Sprint at Ascot on Saturday.
She has only met with defeat twice in her career – the Lowther at York on just her second start and in the July Cup this summer – but victories at Royal Ascot and in Haydock's Sprint Cup have marked her out as top class.
Burke said: "I think she'll be seven kilos heavier than at Ascot in June and probably two heavier than when she won at Haydock. She's still filling out, and that's what makes me think she'll be an even better filly next year.
"It would be great to be champion sprinter. As long as she runs well I think she's got a great chance but if she wins I don't see how she can't be.
"It would be a fantastic achievement to have bought and trained a champion in her division.
"Mecca's Angel is a great filly but she hasn't performed as consistently as we have."
Burke is referring to Michael Dods' dual Nunthorpe heroine, third in the Prix de l'Abbaye last time and having just her second run over six furlongs.
Whatever happens, this will be her last run before she is retired for breeding.
"You dream about having horses like her," said Dods. "She's done the whole yard a lot of good, she's done Paul Mulrennan and myself a lot of good.
"We live in hope that we can find another one like her, but it will probably be impossible.
"It's a stiff-ish six furlongs and nobody knows if she will stay, but I'm encouraged that the two times she's won at York she's been way around the corner before she's been pulled up.
"Good ground or good to soft is perfect for her."
John Gosden's Shalaa won two Group Ones last year but an injury in the spring kept him off the track until two weeks ago, when he made a winning return over this course and distance.
"The run has put him right. He probably went in there about 80 per cent fit and now he's exactly where we want him," said Gosden.
"It was very fortunate the race was there at Ascot just two weeks before.
"It's close enough, but with sprinters I think that's fine and I've been very happy with him since.
"He's missed really all of the season, but we have him back for the big one."
Henry Candy still has an able deputy for the absent Limato in the shape of last year's runner-up Twilight Son, winner of the Diamond Jubilee at the track in June and reunited with Ryan Moore.
"He's working very well now and seems very happy. I think he's almost better fresh now, so I'm not bothered he hasn't had a prep run," said Candy.
"If Shalaa improves as much as John thinks he has then he'll probably be the one to beat.
"Quiet Reflection is very good and you have to throw in The Tin Man as well. It's a very hot race, (but) I think he'll be there or thereabouts."
The Tin Man was second to Quiet Reflection at Haydock and was fourth in this last season.
"All year he'd had niggles here and there but he looks very well now and I'm looking forward to it," said trainer James Fanshawe.
"He has come out of his race Haydock well and seems in good form."
Dean Ivory is aware of the task Librisa Breeze faces stepping out of handicap company.
He said: "It's one of the toughest races I've seen and ideally I'd prefer an extra furlong for him, but he likes Ascot and should come home strong."
Signs Of Blessing was only beaten half a length in the Diamond Jubilee and subsequently won the Prix Maurice de Gheest.
Trainer Francois Rohaut said: "All the lights are green. We're expecting a good performance as he will also have his ground.
"He ran such a great race in the Diamond Jubilee under Stephane Pasquier in June and we're hopeful that he can do even better."
Ayr Gold Cup winner Brando has claims for Kevin Ryan, too.
"It was some performance in the Ayr Gold Cup, carrying that weight," said pilot Tom Eaves.
"He was the class horse in the race and it was a Group-race performance. We're hopeful of a big run and I'm lucky to be part of it."