Norm Casse with multiple G1 winner Tepin after her win in the First Lady at Keeneland
Robert Masterson’s superstar turf mare Tepin will line up against a field of 14 on Tuesday afternoon. For the first time in her career, she’ll be doing so on a straight course, without a nasal strip and without Lasix. The Mark Casse-trained mare will try to prove her mettle against a truly international field of contenders in the £600,000, Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Of those lining up next to Tepin in the starting gate, two are from France, two from Ireland, one from Japan and the other eight from Great Britain. While the American mare has been installed as the 7-2 favorite by British bookmakers, she is very likely to encounter soft ground on Tuesday, a surface with which she hasn’t had a lot of experience.
Assistant trainer Norm Casse told bloodhorse.com that he isn’t concerned about the soft ground for his 5-year-old daughter of Bernstein:
“We are very confident ahead of Tuesday’s race,” he said. “Ideally it would be firm ground, as that is a level playing field for everyone, but I am not apprehensive at all about the prospect of a yielding or soft surface. It was really, really soft when she won the First Lady (gr. IT) at Keeneland last October and she handled that very well.”
Tepin will be joined by the French-born Julien Leparoux, though the jockey will also be making his first overseas start.
With more rain in the forecast, bookmakers have moved Belardo up from 6-1 to 4-1 in the early betting. The champion 2-year-old in Europe two years ago, the son of Lope de Vega produced his best Group 1 win in the Al Shaqab Lockinge at Newbury in his most recent start, and the horse is proven over soft ground.
“He’s in terrific form and I couldn’t have been happier with him since his Lockinge win,” trainer Roger Varian told racingpost.com. “He handles soft ground well, so we have no worries about what the weather does and what the conditions will be.”
Other contenders that may pose a threat to Tepin on Tuesday include the French runners Ervedya and Esoterique. Ervedya won the Coronation Stakes at last year’s Royal Ascot, defeating future Breeders’ Cup heroine Found, and the 4-year-old son of Siyouni hasn’t finished worse than third over his entire career. Esoterique posted a valiant second behind Solow in the Queen Anne last year, and was second in a Group 3 stakes in his 2016 bow.
Endless Drama also deserves a look, as the 4-year-old made a comeback from year-long layoff to finish a strong third behind Belardo in the Lockinge. Before that, his most impressive performance was a second behind Gleneagles in a Group 1 stake at the Curragh.
Finally, Mondialiste will be in Tuesday’s Queen Anne field. While he has struggled in his two most recent starts, broken up by a five-month layoff, the 6-year-old son of Galileo did finish a strong second behind Tepin in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile.
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