Smart Call: taking in the Sun Chariot Stakes en route to America
By Graham Dench 10:00AM 29 SEP 2016
OUTSTANDING South African racemare Smart Call has her prep race for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Santa Anita in November when she takes on eight rivals in the Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday.
The mare was one of nine declarations for the Group 1 contest on Thursday morning, along with Falmouth Stakes and Matron Stakes heroine Alice Springs and French raider Ervedya.
Persuasive, runner-up to Alice Springs in the Matron Stakes, was the only contender not declared at the final stage.
Smart Call, who has not raced since landing the prestigious J&B Met at Kenilworth in January, will be a first runner in Britain for Alec Laird since London News, his 1997 winner of the same race, was third to Bosra Sham in the same year’s Prince of Wales’s Stakes.
She will be a first ride here for former South African champion jockey Anthony Delpech, who has enjoyed considerable success in Hong Kong and won the 2007 Dubai Sheema Classic on Vengeance Of Rain.
Frankie Dettori has been helping prepare Smart Call since she arrived in Newmarket in June after three months in Mauritius, and he rode her in a gallop on the Rowley Mile on the same morning he galloped Lady Aurelia.
However, while Laird is looking forward to getting her back on the track, he warns that Santa Anita is the prime target and that she will come on for the run.
Laird said: “She’s ready for a run and I hope she’ll acquit herself well, but it will be her first run in nine months and we want to see her come forward for it.”
‘We’re on a journey’
Putting Smart Call’s achievements into context he said: “She only won one Classic as a three-year-old, but she improved tremendously as a four-year-old and she’s a big filly, so we’re hoping she’ll be even better at five.
“At the end of her campaign in January she beat the horse of the year [Legal Eagle], so she’s not just the best filly or mare in South Africa, you could say she’s the best racehorse.
“She had already won a ‘win and you’re in’ race for the Breeders’ Cup at Kenilworth three weeks before the Met, and there wouldn’t be much left to prove at home. We’re on a journey to see how good she is.”
He added: “Frankie has been a big help and seems to think she’s on the right track, but unfortunately he has other commitments so Anthony Delpech, who is retained by the owner, will fly over.
“If she’s good enough we’ll have some fun. If she’s not good enough she’ll go to a top stallion, but I think she’ll run well.”