Gosden relishing Journey ahead
The view from connections ahead of Saturday's British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes at Ascot.
Zhukova and Pat Smullen get the better of US Army Ranger to win the Enterprise Stakes on Irish Champions Weekend.
John Gosden is under no illusions as to the task facing Journey in Saturday's British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes at Ascot.
Runner-up to Classic heroine Simple Verse in last year's renewal and successful on two of her three starts this season, the four-year-old appears to hold strong claims on her return to the top table.
After breaking her Pattern-race duck in the Pinnacle Stakes at Haydock in May, Journey was not seen during the summer months, but looked as good as ever when impressing on her return from a four-month break in a Listed event at Newmarket last month.
However, she is faced by couple of dual Group One winners in Seventh Heaven and Speedy Boarding in Berkshire, as well as the hugely promising Zhukova, and Gosden appears hopeful rather than confident about her chances.
He said: "She's in good order and I'm pleased with her.
"She won well at Newmarket the other day and the runner-up, Lady Of Camelot, has since run another good race there.
"We are aware of task in hand with the good Irish filles coming over, but we will give it a go. She was second in it last year and will be having a go again. It's a very polished version of the race."
Journey's rider, Frankie Dettori, feels her relative freshness could prove key in the heat of Group One battle.
"Journey gave me a lovely feel when winning at the Cambridgeshire meeting. She had an 8lb penalty that day so it was no mean feat for her to win in the fashion she did," the jockey told Ladbrokes.
"Twelve months ago she had an identical prep before running well at Ascot, so I've no reason to think she won't go well again.
"She's not been out a whole lot this term and John has taken it steady with her. That could prove critical as we near the end of a long season."
The Aidan O'Brien-trained Seventh Heaven was a surprise winner when claiming Classic glory in the Irish Oaks, but proved that was no fluke when seeing off Arc-winning stablemate Found to double her Group One tally in the Yorkshire Oaks in August.
Kevin Buckley, Coolmore's UK representative, said: "Seventh Heaven is in very good form and I'm looking forward to seeing her."
The Ballydoyle team are also represented by Ribblesdale Stakes heroine Even Song and Park Hill runner-up Pretty Perfect.
The formidable Irish challenge is further strengthened by Dermot Weld's Zhukova, who steps up in class having won each of her three starts this season.
Jockey Pat Smullen said: "We always thought she was capable of making up into a Group One filly.
"It's a very strong race with Seventh Heaven and a couple of other very good fillies in there but we're happy with ours and always felt she was capable of mixing it at the top level.
"She goes there in great form and this has been the plan for a while, so we're looking forward to it."
Speedy Boarding arrives in fantastic form following successive top-level triumphs in the Prix Jean Romanet and Prix de l'Opera.
She has come up short in two previous attempts at a mile and a half, but James Fanshawe is hopeful she can make her presence felt on her final start before retirement.
He said: "She came out of her last race well, she looks well and she's still got her summer coat, so we decided to give it a go.
"I think she's had excuses on her previous attempts over a mile and a half. A lot of her relatives stayed well and she's built to stay, so we'll see.
"It's a strong race and I think a lot will depend on which filly is in the best form on the day.
"It's the end of a long year, but our filly has only had the five runs, so she's not been over-raced. This will be her last run."
Queen's Trust has proved herself capable of mixing it in Group One company with placed efforts in the Nassau Stakes and the Yorkshire Oaks.
Trainer Sir Michael Stoute said: "I thought she was coming to win her race at York last time but she still ran very well, as she did at Goodwood the time before. This is another tough race."
Architecture was runner-up to Minding in the Oaks at Epsom and chased home Seventh Heaven in the Irish Oaks before finishing third in the German Oaks.
James Doyle takes over in the saddle from Dettori.
Saeed bin Suroor sends Promising Run, a Group Three winner in Turkey last month.
"At this time of year you can get some strange results in fillies' races. It's a tough race but we're looking for a good run," he said.
Bateel, Bocca Baciata, California and Maleficent Queen complete the 13-strong field.
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