Simple Verse (centre): has not raced since Royal Ascot in June
PICTURE: Martin Lynch (racingpost.com/photos)
By Keith Melrose 8:00AM 8 SEP 2016
TWELVE months ago Simple Verse held off Bondi Beach to win the St Leger for Ralph Beckett and Andrea Atzeni.
A little less than two weeks later she won it again, and for good this time, after a successful appeal against the inquiry that resulted in her being demoted to second in the stewards’ room.
Any sense of dissatisfaction with the affair was washed away by Simple Verse herself later in the autumn, as she won the British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes at Ascot, confirming her position as a top-class middle-distance filly.
A season of mixing it with the best colts seemed on the cards, but it has not quite worked out that way. A second to Exosphere in April’s Jockey Club Stakes stands as the only time Simple Verse has been seen to something near her best all summer. After the best part of three months off since Royal Ascot, today she returns to the scene of her biggest triumph.
Simple Verse is undoubtedly the star attraction in this year’s Park Hill, yet she is unlikely to be favourite. That speaks of her own struggles this year, but also to no small degree about the level of competition.
Beckett, who also runs Alyssa and Pamona, said: “Simple Verse obviously suits the trip and track. We gave her a break after Royal Ascot and she’s done well on it, so I’m looking forward to running her back at Doncaster.
“Alyssa is going up in grade but she’s been very progressive and has won over the trip, or near enough, so I’m confident it will suit. Ditto Pamona on the trip. She’s suffered off some steady gallops on recent starts, so hopefully it will go more her way this time.”
Barring a fairly seismic market move, Abingdon will head the betting. She is on the Sir Michael Stoute trajectory we have come to know so well down the years and are becoming re-acquainted with as the yard enjoys a resurgence.
Each of Abingdon’s five runs have brought improvement and experience tells us that with Stoute that path can continue both to great heights and deep into a horse’s three-year-old season and beyond.