Updated on 09/22/2011 4:53PM

Sahpresa seeks to defend title in Sun Chariot


From a local perspective, the big race on Saturday’s card at Newmarket in England is the prestigious Cambridgeshire Handicap, a nine-furlong cavalry charge with 35 horses entered. But from an international vantage point, the two Group 1’s on the Newmarket card, the Sun Chariot for fillies at one mile, and the Cheveley Park for 2-year-old fillies, take center stage.

Among the eight horses that passed the final-declaration stage for the Group 1 Sun Chariot is Sahpresa, a France-based 6-year-old mare who won this race in 2010, and who has kept high-level company in her recent starts. On Aug. 15, in the Jacque Le Marois, Sahpresa finished third behind Immortal Verse and Goldikova, and in her previous race, the Prix Rothschild, Sahpresa was beaten only by Goldikova.

Third behind Sahpresa in the Rothschild was Timepiece, but that Henry Cecil-trained Juddmonte Farms filly bested Sahpresa over the Newmarket course in July, winning the Group 1 Falmouth Stakes by 1 1/4 lengths. The 4-year-old Timepiece might in fact be the one to beat Saturday. She has won 6 of 15 starts during her career, but many of those races have come a distance greater than one mile.

The 3-year-old Alanza, who makes her first start in Group 1 competition, has been well backed in Sun Chariot ante-post wagering, and is offered at just second-choice odds of 7-2 by several betting houses. Bred and owned by the Aga Khan and trained by John Oxx, Alanza has won 4 of 6 career starts, and has come home first in her last three races, most recently capturing the Group 3 Scepter Stakes at Doncaster.

Undefeated Best Terms heads a field of nine entered in the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes, a six-furlong race for 2-year-old fillies. An early developer for trainer Richard Hannon, Best Terms won her first three starts over five furlongs before stepping up slightly in trip to six furlongs last out to capture the Group 2 Lowther Stakes at York. Shumoos has come nearest to beating Best Terms, finishing a head behind her at Ascot in June, and is among Best Terms’s opponents in the Cheveley Park.