The chances of Sariska lining up for Saturday’s G1 English Champion Stakes (2000m) at Newmarket increased after a pleasing workout on Wednesday morning. The Pivotal filly is a $5 second favourite behind Montjeu’s Irish Derby winner Fame And Glory ($2.50).
Sariska (3f Pivotal – Maycocks Bay by Muhtarram) can put the finishing touches on a magnificent year for her sire Pivotal this weekend. The Cheveley Park stallion added another notch to his record at the elite level when Siyouni was a convincing winner of the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at Longchamp on October 4.
Siyouni (2c Pivotal–Sichilla by Danehill) was expected to back-up in the G1 Dewhurst Stakes this Saturday but the Aga Khan homebred has been saved for another day.
Sheikh Mohammed’s Pivotal colt Buzzword will take his place in the Dewhurst after a last start third to Siyouni in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere. Buzzword (2c Pivotal – Bustling by Danehill) hasn’t been out of a place in six starts and he defeated Siyouni in the G3 Prix la Rochette in September.
Pivotal has been a leading light in Europe for many years but Sariska has taken that success to another level this year. She won the 2009 English and Irish Oaks and trainer Michael Bell is hoping that some rain will materialise so there is a bit of give in the ground.
Kieren Fallon will take over from the suspended Jamie Spencer in the Newmarket contest and Bell is upbeat about her progress since a last-start loss in the Yorkshire Oaks on ground that was on the fast side.
“She looks in fantastic form and I am mad keen to run,” Bell told UK Racing Post on Thursday. “Kieren gave a nod and a wink after her work yesterday which says it all.
“Sariska is in great health and still has her summer coat. We would run on good ground, but any faster and she would be doubtful. We were ready to run in the Arc but the ground was too quick.”
Cheveley Park homebred Virtual is another Pivotal acceptor for the Champion Stakes. He was a G1 winner of the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury in May and is coming off a G1 placing behind Aqlaam in the Prix du Moulin at Longchamp last month.
Sariska’s classic triumphs have cemented Pivotal’s place as England’s most reliable source of high-class racehorses. He was raced by his breeder Cheveley Park Stud and was trained at Newmarket by Sir Mark Prescott to win the G2 King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot and G1 Nunthorpe Stakes at York.
Pivotal was retired to Cheveley Park to stand alongside his own sire Polar Falcon and his record includes close to 70 stakes winners at a 65% winner-to-runners strike rate.
Southern-hemisphere studmasters have been slow to accept the Pivotal sireline. Until last year, his only son in this part of the world had been French G2 winner Captain Rio who stands at Westbury Stud in New Zealand.
Coolmore embraced the sireline by shuttling St James Palace Stakes (G1) winner Excellent Art out here for the 2008 season when he covered a book of 119 mares.
His first Australian bred foals are now arriving and include a beautiful chestnut filly from the Zeditave mare Onwards who comes from the family of Golden Slipper winner Burst.
“She is a really nice foal, a chestnut just like her grand-dad and we all know what a good sire he is,” Queensland based breeder David Thomas said. “She has plenty of size with nice quality and very good bone. I’m delighted with her”.