Qemah floored by Mingle
Qemah suffered a shock defeat as Mix And Mingle landed the Betfred "Supports Jack Berry House" Chartwell Fillies' Stakes at Lingfield.
Jean-Claude Rouget's French raider was sent off the evens favourite for the seven-furlong heat after winning twice at Group One level last term, with connections tackling this Group Three event en route to another Royal Ascot outing next month.
However, her prep run did not quite go to plan as Ryan Moore's decision to race alone up the stands rail paid dividends on the Chris Wall-trained four-year-old.
While the rest of the field headed to the middle of the track, Moore stuck true to the rail and his mount seemed to thrive for his choice of position as she threw down the gauntlet to Qemah, who raced in the main group for Frankie Dettori.
With half a furlong to run, Mix And Mingle appeared to be in control and so it proved as she came home two and a quarter lengths clear, despite jumping the road across the track earlier in the race. Pirouette kept on for third, a further one and a half lengths adrift.
Moore said: "She's a good filly. She won nicely at Newmarket and looked the ideal sort of filly for this race. Obviously the favourite is high class, but things went well for her (Mix And Mingle). She'a good filly and fair play to Chris and his team.
"She landed in the middle (of the road) – she wouldn't jump a hurdle!"
Wall said: "I am really pleased with that. That is a really good performance. She had shown us at home that she had taken a step forward after her race at Newmarket.
"I was pretty disappointed when we had the rain and called the clerk of the course a few names under my breath because he had watered on Wednesday, but it worked out well in the end, so I take it all back.
"Ryan has given her a lovely ride. We discussed staying on the stands rail because, historically, when there is a little bit of juice in the ground it is the best place to be and as she is pretty straightforward, while you would probably prefer a bit of cover, there was a string tailwind today and we did not want to be too far off the pace.
"He has given her a peach of a ride and she has shown a good turn of foot and quickened up well.
"I will use the old cliche – this was the target and had been for a while. I think we will go away and discuss with the owners what he'd like to do.
"There is nothing really for her at Royal Ascot – I could have put her in the Duke of Cambridge, but I think seven (furlongs) really is her trip. Although she was running well over a mile last year, I felt she wasn't quite getting home over the last 100 yards.
"I would like to stick at seven but there is a limited programme.
"The important thing with a well-bred filly like her was to get some full black type and that was achieved. I have not discussed it with the owners yet but to do something like taking her to America at some point is not the stupidest thing – if she is going to get a mile round two turns, that's where she will do it. That is to be discussed.
"We will have to study that programme. It has been in the back of my mind. We have plenty of options."
Rouget was not too despondent with Qemah, who was having her first run since finishing third to Alice Springs in the Matron Stakes last October.
He said: "It is always disappointing to be beaten as this was a good entry for her.
"The distance was a bit short. You really want a six-furlong horse for this track. She is in very good form, though. We are in May and Group One fillies often get beaten first time out at this time of year.
"It was a bit short for her and the track was very fast. She did what she had to do. She took a bump two furlongs from home and it was hard to come back from, but that will be a good lesson for the filly.
"There's no choice for this horse, there's a couple of options for her (at Royal Ascot), which one I don't know yet.
"It's not the first time a Group One horse has been beaten in a Group Three."
A stewards' inquiry found Jimmy Fortune on Pirouette had interfered with Qemah approaching two furlongs out, taking the favourite off her intended line. The officials found him guilty of careless riding and cautioned him as to his future conduct in races.
Dettori was soon back in the winner's enclosure, recording a double on the afternoon, when Shaiyem took the Betfred 'Racing's Biggest Supporter' Handicap.
The Richard Hannon-trained gelding bounced back from a Chelmsford all-weather defeat to gain a third career success, getting the better of Ghalib by a length and a quarter, with Fox Trotter two and a half lengths further behind in third.
Dettori said of the 2-1 favourite: "It is the turf – she was back on the turf and that made all the difference."
Harry Herbert, racing manager to winning owners Al Shaqab Racing, was mulling over a crack at the Royal Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot afterwards.
He said: "Back on turf made all the difference. It was a good run at Newmarket early doors and then it went all horribly wrong at Chelmsford.
"He is definitely progressive. He could be rated in the nineties now and certainly the sort of race we can look at if he could get in.
"I would not want to run him on rattling fast ground. The easy side of good is probably better. He is progressive, and he is learning. He is a much happier horse today, much more relaxed."
Eve Johnson Houghton's string is in fine fettle at present and Becca Campbell (12-1) came with a sustained run to take the Betfred 'Follow Us on Twitter' Handicap Stakes in the hands of Ed Greatrex.
Arguably the biggest attraction in the line-up was Megalala, who was making a seasonal debut at the ripe old age of 16. The John Bridger-trained gelding set a good gallop but was back-peddling from the three-furlong pole before sticking on for a fine sixth place.
By then the winner had flown, although was made to fight by Poppy Time, who finished half a length adrift. Weardiditallgorong was a game third, three and a quarter-lengths further back.
Trainer's representative David Kenny said: "She did it nicely. She is a tough little filly carrying that weight (9st 7lb). I was pleased she went up the inside rail and she showed how brave she was.
"Eve's horses are in form."
Leave us a comment!
Share this story:
Subscribe to our Newsletter today to receive Free Horse Racing Tips.
Simply fill out the form below and wait for the Free Tips to land in your inbox.