Gosden won’t stop believing

Journey looks to follow up last year's win

John Gosden is banking on the "autumn" factor to help Journey defend her crown in the Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes.

Second in the race two years ago, the daughter of Dubawi went one better in fine style last season and seemingly comes to life at this time of year.

But she does have ground to make up on the French raider Bateel, who beat her quite comfortably in the Prix Vermeille last time out.

Gosden also has a very strong second string to his bow in Coronet, who just failed to see out the trip in the St Leger at Doncaster, where she finished fifth.

"Journey ran well in France, but just bumped into a filly that loved that ground more than she did. She ran a super race," said Gosden.

"She seems to come to herself in the autumn. She seems in great form trying to defend her title. She is full of vitality.

"We let her do most of her stuff on her own. She is quite an imperious lady and I am very happy with her going into the race.

"She was mighty impressive in it last year and I hope we can find the same filly this year.

"She will go on any ground, she doesn't want the extreme either way."

He added: "Coronet ran an exceptionally good race in the Yorkshire Oaks behind Enable and just found the pace and distance too far in the Leger, but she's a very good filly and she's getting better all the time.

"She seems to be racing more alertly now than she used to. Fillies in the autumn, if they are in the zone and well, that's great.

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"Sometimes it's a little late in the year, but they are both giving us the right signals. Fingers crossed, they will both run good races."

Bateel is trained by Francis Graffard, who will have relished every drop of rain that has fallen for his filly, who has progressed markedly since leaving David Simcock.

"This was a very obvious race for Bateel after winning the Vermeille," said Graffard.

"I'm very glad that we weren't tempted by the Arc, as this has given her a nice bit of time to recover.

"She's in just as good a form as before that race, and now I don't feel any pressure.

"She's a filly that has her own character, but she has not stopped progressing since she joined us.

"I am hopeful she will put up a very good performance as we also know she goes well on soft ground, and fingers crossed she doesn't find one too good."

Aidan O'Brien runs Hydrangea, who edged a tight verdict over stablemate Winter in the Matron Stakes and was then narrowly beaten by fellow Ballydoyle inmate Rhododendron in the Prix de l'Opera.

"She's in good form and it's her first time over a mile and a half," said O'Brien, who also saddles big outsider Wild Irish Rose.

"She seems to be well, but hasn't done much since Arc weekend.

"Obviously we're not sure about the mile and a half, but Ryan (Moore) thinks there is a chance that she might get it. We've been delighted with her last runs."

Andrew Balding's Horseplay was fourth to Enable in the Oaks but has not been seen since occupying the same position in a French Group Two in July.

"She's a high-class filly who probably wasn't seen to best effect in France on her last start, when she came back with a problem," said Balding.

"It's taken a bit of time to get her right."

Carlos Laffon-Parias is not a regular visitor to Britain but his representative Left Hand was only beaten a length in the Prix de l'Opera.

"She has everything going for her in this race, the distance and the ground," he said.

"She's been very consistent this season without winning as she was unlucky in the Prix Jean Romanet and again in the Opera last time. I'm confident of her putting up a very good performance."

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