Lanigan and Johnston yard poised with potential challengers
SEA OF Class could make her seasonal reappearance at York after being entered in the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Middleton Stakes, which will be run on Thursday 16 May.
The William Haggas-trained filly was one of the stars of the 2018 season, winning two Group 1s – the Darley Irish Oaks and then the Darley Yorkshire Oaks on the Knavesmire.
But arguably her best performance came in defeat at Paris Longchamp where she went down to the brilliant Enable by a diminishing short neck in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
Sea Of Class remains in training aged four and is one of 18 horses in the initial entry for the Group 2 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Middleton Stakes, contested over a mile and a quarter.
The entry also contains last year’s surprise 1,000 Guineas winner, Billesdon Brook. Multiple Group 1 runner-up and defending champion, Coronet, is also listed; as are Nyaleti and Threading from the record-breaking yard of Middleham-based trainer, Mark Johnston.
The Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Middleton Stakes is under consideration for Nyaleti as she looks to build on a very good three-year-old campaign, which concluded with back-to-back top-three finishes in Grade/Group 1 races.
Charlie Johnston, assistant trainer to his father, said: “She has been all around the world already, including finishing second in an Italian Group 1 on her final outing last year.
“She has lots of options on the table for her reappearance. She could either start in the Middleton, or something like the Dahlia Stakes at Newmarket or even the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh.
“Last year she came up a bit short at the top level in this country, but she was twice placed in Group 1 company abroad. We’re well aware that we might need to travel again to try and win a Group 1, but we’re prepared to do that and she’ll be entered far and wide.”
Threading was a high-class two-year-old in 2017, winning the Sky Bet Lowther Stakes at York. She returned to the track last May to land a Listed prize but her form dipped after a very creditable effort in behind Alpha Centauri at Royal Ascot.
Johnston added: “She was disappointing towards the back end of last year and we just want to see the same level of spark she showed when finishing second in the Coronation Stakes in June. She will definitely start over a mile – maybe in something like the Snowdrop at Kempton – and we’ll try and get her head back in front. The Middleton is a fall-back option if we want to go up in trip afterwards.”
Trainer David Lanigan is another with decisions to make about where to campaign a talented filly. His charge Worth Waiting won four races last year, including a Group 3 in Deauville. She returned to France where she ran a very creditable fourth in the Group 1 Prix Vermeille.
Her preparations for the new season are well underway and Lanigan will make a call nearer the time as to whether Worth Waiting will return in the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Middleton Stakes or stay closer to home to tackle the Dahlia Stakes at Newmarket.
Lanigan confirmed: “It’s just a question of seeing how she comes in the next three weeks and then make a plan.
“She has wintered well and looks like she has filled out her frame. She was never a gross filly but has done very well, so I’m pleased with her.
“Hopefully she’ll progress. She’s had a good lay-off and is coming back nicely.”
Speaking last week, Champion Trainer John Gosden indicated that improving filly, Lah Ti Dah could well return to the Knavesmire, scene of her impressive Listed race triumph in the EBF Galtres Stakes last August.
The Dante Festival runs from Wednesday 15 May – Friday 17 May inclusively.