Midday to be hat-trick heroine

IN 2009, Midday bounced back from a pretty disappointing effort in the Irish Oaks to win the Nassau Stakes, and just a year ago she also rediscovered a winning thread to take the Group 1 Goodwood contest.

This afternoon, for the third successive season, Henry Cecil's mare will be hoping to erase the memory of a surprise defeat when she takes on a small-but-select field bidding to deny her a hat-trick.

On her seasonal debut back in May she showed a terrific turn of pace to pick up the enterprisingly ridden Sajjhaa in the Group 2 Middleton Stakes at York. Conceding weight to her rivals, she gave notice that all her ability was still intact.

Connections were happy with her subsequent effort in the Coronation Cup at Epsom, where she finished second behind St Nicholas Abbey. Although a one-length beating at the hooves of the King George third does not read badly, I felt Midday was a shade disappointing that day.

She has twice been successful in Group 1 company over a mile and a half and, when she kicked clear of her rival just two furlongs from home, she should have maintained her advantage.

St Nicholas Abbey was clearly all at sea on the Epsom camber and it was somewhat disappointing that he was able to come from so far behind to pick Midday up so readily. With that in mind, it was a shade predictable that she might not run to her very best at the in the Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh on her most recent outing.

Misty For Me was allowed to dictate that race at a slow pace and she quickened from the front to leave Midday standing. In mitigation, Cecil's mare had run badly at the Curragh on her only previous visit and may not be suited to the Kildare venue. Positive emanations from the Warren Place stable suggest she's at her best but she'll have to be so to beat today's rivals.

The 2010 Irish and English Oaks winner Snow Fairy looked in need of the race when a never dangerous fourth behind So You Think in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown on her seasonal debut. She's entitled to come on significantly for that run - and is reported to have worked brilliantly this week - and her international exploits from the back-end of last season read very well.

However, she met Midday in last season's Yorkshire Oaks and had no answer to her rival. She enjoyed a significant weight-for-age pull that day and yet was unable to land a real blow.

What's most interesting about both runners in relation to today's clash is that they've both won here in the past. Goodwood is considered a specialist track and their ability to handle its idiosyncrasies is testament to their class and versatility.

Snow Fairy didn't get the trip in last year's Doncaster St Leger but she improved when sent on her travels to the Far East. There's very little between herself and Midday on official ratings and it should be similar in this race.

Crystal Capella is also a course winner and has long been highly regarded but it still came as something of a surprise when she took her form to a new level altogether in the Princess of Wales's Stakes at Newmarket earlier in the month. She travelled extremely well throughout, showed big pace to move up into a challenging position and then sprinted clear of the very useful Redwood.

Even allowing for the runner-up being below par, it was a very impressive run. However, the drop back to ten furlongs may not be in her favour and she is also taking a step up in class. She's respected for the fact that her trainer, Michael Stoute, has won this race three times in the past ten years but, in truth, she has a little bit to prove here.

Midday's stable companion, Principal Role, was engaged to carry out a pace-making role but I wonder whether connections' minds have been changed in the absence of Misty For Me. Perhaps a true test of stamina is not as important now and just a steady, even pace looks most likely.

Field Day and Barefoot Lady have a lot to find at this level and, though Midday hasn't looked at her very best on her two most recent starts, she has an awful lot in her favour here. She won this race for the past two seasons, clearly loves this track and has the benefit of a stable companion to tow her around.

Midday may not have been at her very best recently but this is her chance to show that she retains all her old ability. With her stable in outstanding form, she can complete her three-timer at the expense of Snow Fairy.

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