Highgarden will face six rivals May 16 in her bid to give John Gosden and Frankie Dettori a fourth consecutive Tattersalls Musidora Stakes (G3) at York.
The Musidora, run over 10 1/2 furlongs, is a key trial for the June 1 Investec Oaks (G1). Six winners have gone on to triumph at Epsom subsequently, most recently Sariska in 2009, while 2015 winner Star of Seville won the Prix de Diane (G1).
Jockey and trainer both have fine records in the race. Gosden’s six overall winners include five of the past seven renewals, while Dettori is tied with retiree Steve Cauthen for most victories with five.
Highgarden comes in on the back of a third-place finish in a 10-furlong conditions race at Sandown to kick off her 3-year-old career. The daughter of Nathaniel made a solitary start at 2, when she comfortably landed a one-mile conditions race at Newbury last fall.
“It looks an open race this year, and Highgarden ran a nice race at Sandown where the ground was on the soft side,” Gosden said. “We’ll see how she gets on before we make a decision whether she heads to Epsom or not.”
Chief opposition figures to be trainer Ralph Beckett’s Ceilidhs Dream and William Haggas’s Give And Take.
Ceilidhs Dream built on a Kempton polytrack conditions race third in her sole start at 2, when winning a Newmarket maiden at one mile on return. She will be ridden by Harry Bentley.
Beckett expects to find out plenty at York.
“It is a step up in class for her, but I was very pleased with her win at Newmarket last time,” he said. “She has been working well at home and hopefully this will prove a good indicator for some later season targets. She’s not in the Oaks and she’s not really bred to go beyond a mile.”
Give And Take finished one place in front of Highgarden in the aforementioned Sandown contest and gets the assistance of James Doyle.
“She finished in front of John Gosden’s filly last time and that one is clearly highly rated,” Haggas said. “Ours ran a very good race at Sandown. Whether she needs that (soft) ground I don’t know, but she handles it well. It will be lovely ground at York, no excuses on that front.
“She’s a very genuine filly who tries like hell. I think she’ll run her race, whether that is good enough, we’ll see. She has lots of stamina on the dam’s side but she shows a bit of speed at home. I’ve left her in the Oaks but I’m not convinced she’s going to be better over a mile and a half.”
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