Connections happy with Qemah ahead of Matron
Qemah will attempt to confirm her position as one of the leading fillies of her generation by landing a third straight Group One success in the Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes at Leopardstown.
With wins in the Coronation Stakes and the Prix Rothschild to her name this season, the Jean-Claude Rouget-trained three-year-old bids to add this mile event to that list of victories.
The daughter of Danehill Dancer has tasted defeat in only one of her four starts this term, when finishing third behind top-class stablemate La Cressonniere in the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches in May.
Harry Herbert, racing manager to owners Al Shaqab Racing, said: "Qemah comes into the race in terrific form. The Matron has been the target since her impressive win last time out.
"Jean-Claude is very happy with her and I saw her the other day and she looked terrific.
"She is just a unique filly that has got this terrific cruising speed with the ability to quicken off it.
"It is all about the pace for her as she seems really well suited by a strong pace, although she is settling much better in her races now. She is a very special filly."
Heading the two British representatives is the John Gosden-trained Persuasive who made it five wins from as many tries with an impressive success in a Group Three contest at Sandown last month.
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The Newmarket handler said: "She goes to the Matron in good form. She did well at Sandown and Andrew's filly (Blond Me, runner-up) did well in Istanbul. She is a lovely filly that is progressive.
"The track and the ground should suit her."
Further British interest comes in the form of German 1000 Guineas winner Hawksmoor from the yard of Hugo Palmer.
Although beaten on both her previous starts at this level, the Newmarket handler is happy with the form the daughter of Azamour is in.
He said: "She is heading to Ireland in good form. She was the best filly at the weights last time and she has not got her Group Two penalty as she is running in a Group One now.
"She recently did a nice piece of work and the ground for her should be fine and she goes there fresh and well. Pat Smullen rides her.
"The plan with her is to go for this then head to America for the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup. The race fits well as there is a nice space between them."
Michael O'Callaghan feels a recent racecourse gallop should put Now Or Never spot on for the race which has been on the agenda since her course-and-distance Group Three win back in May.
O'Callaghan said: "I didn't run her on soft ground at Tipperary as I didn't want to leave a mark on her with the Matron Stakes coming up.
"The Matron has been the plan all year since she won the Guineas Trial over the course and distance. She had a nice racecourse gallop the other day and is in good form."
With Aidan O'Brien electing to take on the colts in the Irish Champion with multiple Group One winner Minding, the master of Ballydoyle will rely on Falmouth Stakes winner Alice Springs.
The field is completed by Irish Guineas winner Jet Setting from the yard of Adrian Keatley, the Willie McCreery-trained Devonshire and Creggs Pipes who is the representative of Andrew Slattery.
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