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Connolly’s RED MILLS Cheveley Park Stakes 2016

The countdown is on to the Connolly’s RED MILLS Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket Racecourse. There are ten entries remaining at this stage but final declarations will be revealed on Friday.  

We’re taking this chance to look back at the last three years of Connolly’s RED MILLS Cheveley Park Stakes Champions!

2013 Winner: Vorda (Orpen X Velda)
Trainer: Philippe Sogorb
Jockey: Olivier Peslier
Owner: HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Thani
Breeder: S R L Edy

In the 2013 Connolly’s RED MILLS Cheveley Park Stakes each runner posed credible claims, the form guide suggested that Vorda and Kiyoshi set a clear standard.

Originally purchased for “low grade early two year old races”, Vorda, had established herself as one of Europe’s leading juveniles. Bought for just €9,000 at Arqana the previous October, she was unbeaten in her first three starts, which included a comfortable win in the Group Two Prix Robert Papin at Deauville. She then went on to finish a fine second behind crack US Juvenile, No Nay Never in the Group One Prix Morny.

Kiyoshi, on the other hand, was an ultra impressive winner of the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot on her penultimate start. There, she moved ominously well throughout the race and quickly put distance between herself and her rivals with over a furlong to race. Despite veering alarmingly right in the final 100 yards, she still had over three lengths to spare at the finish. Since then, she was demoted to third place by the stewards in the Group One Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh after finishing second behind Rizeena, who had previously finished behind Vorda in the Prix Morny.

Of the rest, Frankel’s closely watched half-sister, Joyeuse, was coming into the race after winning the Listed Dick Poole Stakes at Salisbury earlier that month. While Irish trainer, David Wachman, sent over Come To Heel, an unbeaten Listed winner from two starts.

From the offset, there was a steady early gallop causing several of the runners to travel rather keenly. At the two furlong marker, the pace noticeably intensified. Kiyoshi was the first to challenge the long time leader, Dorothy B, but once Olivier Peslier gave Vorda a stern reminder, the race was over in a matter of strides. Vorda routed her six rivals in dismissive fashion. Princess Noor, who raced detached from the main body, stayed on strongly to finish second ahead of Kiyoshi.

Tiggy Wiggy - Winner of the Connolly's RED MILLS Cheveley Park Stakes 2014

2014 Winner: Tiggy Wiggy (Kodiac X Kheleyf’s Sister) 
Trainer: Richard Hannon Jnr
Jockey: Richard Hughes
Owner: Potensis Ltd, C. Giles & Merriebelle
Breeder: Cbs Bloodstock

Before the 2014 Connolly’s RED MILLS Cheveley Park Stakes, it looked highly likely that the winner of that horse race would subsequently be crowned that season’s Champion two year old filly. Ireland, France and the UK were all represented by their leading juvenile filly at the time. The Irish hopeful, Anthem Alexander narrowly defeated the leading British hopeful, Tiggy Wiggy in the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot. Tiggy Wiggy, however, had since won the Lowther Stakes at York in which Anthem Alexander was a well-beaten third. Splitting the pair was Cursory Glance, who since franked that form by winning the Group One Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh. Meanwhile the French hopeful, High Celebrity looked a filly of immense promise. She had most recently been a facile winner of a Group Three on home soil and was held in the highest regard by her trainer, Andre Fabre.

Before the off, Tiggy Wiggy had proved very popular among punters and those that backed her never had a moment’s doubt. She broke smartly, dictated the pace from the front and quickened smartly close home, winning with plenty in reserve. Without troubling the winner, Anthem Alexander stayed on strongly to finish second while the French raider, High Celebrity made up the placings.

Incidentally, this was to be Richard Hughes’ final Group One flat racing winner in the UK before his retirement in August 2015. The win also capped a stellar season for stallion, Kodiac. The Tally Ho resident enjoyed a remarkable 2014, breaking the European record for siring the most juvenile winners in a year.

Despite finishing third in the 1000 guineas, Tiggy Wiggy never managed to recapture her juvenile form the following season. Nonetheless, that failed to stop Coolmore paying 2.1 million gns for her at last year’s December Mare Sale, handsomely repaying the £41,000 she cost connections as a yearling.

Lumiere - Winner of the Connolly's RED MILLS Cheveley Park Stakes 2015

2015 Winner: Lumiere (Shamardal X Screen Star) 
Trainer: Mark Johnston
Jockey: William Buick
Owner: Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Al Maktoum
Breeder: Darley

The 2015 Connolly’s Red Mills Cheveley Park Stakes saw three runners dominate the betting in Besharah, Illuminate and Lumiere and it was these three that would ultimately fight out the finish.

Besharah had been progressing nicely throughout the season. Her most recent start saw her stride clear of Lumiere in the Lowther Stakes at York. Illuminate was heading into the race unbeaten in three starts. She was a good winner of the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot. Following that, she held off the late surge of Besharah in the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes at Newmarket’s July meeting after which, her trainer, Richard Hannon Jnr described her as being “as good as we’ve ever had”.

The Mark Johnston trained, Lumiere, even before her racecourse debut, was being highly praised by connections. She confirmed that promise on her racecourse debut by romping home in a maiden at Newmarket before finishing second to Besharah at York. That performance prompted doubts over her stamina, but any concerns were completely discarded afterwards.

Lumiere exemplified the attributes typical of so many of Mark Johnston’s stable stars down through the years. She bounced out of the stalls, set a strong gallop throughout and doggedly fended off her rivals at the finish.

Heading into the dip, she was strongly pressed by the two market principles, Illuminate and Besharah.  Inside the final furlong, Illuminate looked the likely winner but William Buick’s charge kept finding for pressure. In a three-way thriller, Lumiere just came out on top ahead of Illuminate and Bersharah. Alice Springs also stayed on strongly to finish a close fourth. It is the latter who has gone on to achieve the most to date.

The Aidan O’Brien trained filly has subsequently gone on to win twice at Group One flat racing level this season, establishing herself as one of Europe’s leading three-year-old fillies. She was a comfortable winner of the Falmount Stakes at Newmarket and most recently, she was an equally impressive winner of the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown.

All that remains is to wish all the contenders the best of luck and wait to see who will be crowned as the Connolly’s RED MILLS Cheveley Park Stakes 2016 champion.

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