Usherette heads Godolphin quintet in Duke of Cambridge

Godolphin are responsible for five of the 16 horses to stand their ground for the Duke of Cambridge Stakes next Wednesday
Usherette heads Godolphin quintet in Duke of Cambridge

Ante-post favourite Usherette, trained by Andre Fabre and an impressive winner in the Dahlia Stakes at Newmarket last time out, remains on course for the race, along with American challenger Miss Temple City, fourth in the Coronation Stakes at 50/1 at this meeting 12 months ago.

Other leading Godolphin contenders include Jim Bolger’s Lucida and the progressive pair Always Smile and Very Special, both trained by Saeed bin Suroor.

Other possibles include the John Gosden-trained Jazzi Top, Andrew Balding’s Blond Me and Spangled from Roger Varian’s stable, but those taken out of the contest at the latest stage include David O’Meara’s Amazing Maria, who won this race at last year’s meeting.

Others to miss out include Ervedya, entered 24 hours earlier in the Queen Anne instead, and Sayana, disappointing when turned over at Epsom in the Princess Elizabeth Stakes last weekend.

Meanwhile leading Coronation Stakes contender Nemoralia has thrilled connections in her Royal Ascot preparations, but trainer Jeremy Noseda admits the prospect of rain during next week is a slight concern.

The Newmarket trainer, whose nine previous Royal Ascot winners include 2007 Diamond Jubilee Stakes winner Soldier’s Tale and 2009 Royal Hunt Cup hero Forgotten Voice, is keeping a watchful eye on what is an unsettled week-long forecast ahead of the classy filly’s quest for Group One honours next Friday.

Noseda said: “The faster the ground, the better she is. She handles juice in the ground, but my own feeling is if it goes overly soft, we would maybe for another day. The only query I have in my mind is the unsettled forecast.”

Nemoralia impressed at York’s Dante meeting with a six-length romp in a one-mile Listed race, with Noseda of the belief she is now an even sharper horse.

The handler said: “I’m delighted with how she’s come out of the race. I think she’s moved forward and improved again. She did her main piece of work on Tuesday morning, and Frankie Dettori came in to ride her.

“That has sharpened her up and, physically, she has done well since the race. I’m happy that we’re exactly where we want to be.”

Despite sharing market favouritism with the Aidan O’Brien-trained Ballydoyle, who comfortably had the measure of Nemoralia in a Newmarket maiden last July, there is no hint of Noseda having a score to settle and his primary focus is on getting his own filly to the track in great condition.

“She’s coming into it in the best form of her life but we’ve obviously got to step up again now.

“We haven’t won a Group One yet so I’m hoping the Coronation will define the rest of the season goes for our filly.

“I think she’s capable of taking the step up to the next level but thinking it and proving it are two different things entirely.

“We’ve got plenty of options later on, in America and over here, and we know she handles the dirt surface over in the States - she was second in a Group One (at Belmont last October) - but if she proves she up to this class in Europe then we’d be less inclined to go to America too early.”

Noseda doesn’t fear anything in particular in the potential line-up for next week’s contest and went as far as admitting he hadn’t even had chance to watch the Irish 1000 Guineas, in which fellow Coronation hope Jet Setting beat subsequent Investec Oaks heroine Minding, but he explained how Minding’s presence in the Qipco 1000 Guineas picture swayed him away from aiming towards the fillies’ Classic at Newmarket with Nemorlia.

Noseda said: “We discussed the Guineas with the owner but I think things have worked out well. One of the biggest factors on my mind was Minding. Thank goodness she’s turned out she’s as good as she looked last year as I wanted to be realistic and didn’t want to be knocking heads with her in a Guineas.

“I’m not sure Newmarket would have suited her action either and she’s a filly better suited to a flatter track without undulations.

“Nemoralia also had two tough races in American but we sent her to Florida afterwards and by the time she got back then having a prep might have been out of the question.

“Things weren’t on our side at the Breeders’ Cup but she flew home at the finish and with a bit more luck we might already be looking at a Group One winner.

“If the day comes to face Minding then the day comes but for now I just concentrate on my own.

“Next week is our big chance to shine, she’s spot-on, has a great temperament and if it’s not this time because of the ground and we have to wait then so be it but I’m sure she’s capable at some stage.”

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