Lord and Lady Lloyd Webber's stunning three-year-old Lah Ti Dar is poised for a second tilt at Group 1 company in Saturday's British Champions Fillies and Mares Stakes, but is she a match for Kitesurf?
Lah Ti Dar, beaten only once by colt Kew Gardens in the St Leger, has carried all before her in Listed company, and heads the betting for the Fillies and Mares Stakes at no bigger than 6/4 with Black Type.
However, her two closest rivals in the odds have both won at Group 1 level. Lah Ti Dar has not.
First held as the Princess Royal Stakes back in 1946, the race was renamed the British Champions Fillies & Mares Stake upon creation of British Champions Day in 2011.
The Group 1, run over 1m4f, is worth £600,000 and is open to females aged three or older, but has a tendency to be won by a talented three-year-old on the upgrade, often with Classic form.
Hydrangea (8/1 Coral) had a busy time in 2017 with her victory in the Champions Fillies & Mares on soft going marking her second at Group 1 level, having early won the Matron Stakes over 1m at Leopardstown.
A versatile individual, the daughter of Galileo started her season with a good second in a 1m Group 2 contest at the Curragh (good-to-firm) at the end of May, then disappointed when last of seven in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes, held over this course and distance at the end of July.
Absent since that disappointment, the forecast soft ground is in her favour, but her form is a huge concern with her three best efforts of recent seasons all coming in 2017. She's best watched.
Lah Ti Dar marked herself out as a potential superstar when winning a Listed contest by 10 lengths over this distance on good-to-firm going at York in August. Sent off favourite for the St Leger over an extended 1m6f at Doncaster subsequently, the daughter of Dubawi acquitted herself well, finishing second to colt Kew Gardens in a good-ground renewal of 2018's final Classic.
Out of the three-time Group 1 winner Dar Re Mi, and thus a full-sister to the top class filly So Mi Dar and this season's leading juvenile colt Too Darn Hot, the drop back to 1m4f looks likely to suit John Gosden’s charge and at 6/4 (Blacktype) she looks a worthy favourite.
Kitesurf comes to British Champions Day as a winner of her last two starts, including by a head in Group 1 company, winning the Prix Vermeille over this distance on good ground at Longchamp. Racing from off the pace, and outpaced at times, the Dubawi filly prevailed by a head from Magic Wand, who is also in this contest.
Trainer Andre Fabre’s four-year-old had been beaten in both previous attempts in Group 1s prior to that, however, she appears to have found her preferred distance and is bidding to provide France’s leading trainer with a first British Champions Fillies and Mares Stakes victory.
Given the form that Kitesurf has shown in the past two months, she looks worth an each-way interest at 5/1 (Ladbrokes), with regular jockey Mickael Barzalona taking the ride once more.
Stallion Dubawi’s dominance of the field is clear, Godolphin's star having sired favourite Lah Ti Dar, second-favourite Kitesurf and also Lah Ti Dar's stablemate Coronet (11/2 Coral).
The winner of her first start of the season in a Group 2 over an extended 1m2f at York (good-to-firm) in May, the four-year-old has gone on to place in Group 1s on her next three starts, including when second to leading three-year-old Sea Of Class in the Yorkshire Oaks.
Absent since that outing in August, Coronet ran well when third to Hydrangea on soft ground in this race last year and she is worth betting on at that price of 11/2, given she will have the ground to suit.