Sea Silk Road will attempt to follow up her poignant victory in the Lester Piggott Stakes when she returns to Haydock for the bet365 Lancashire Oaks on Saturday.
The daughter of Sea The Stars provided trainer William Haggas with a fitting success in the race that was known as the Pinnacle Stakes but renamed in honour of one of the sport’s greatest figures and also the Somerville Lodge handler’s late father-in-law.
Having shown a liking for the course and distance, the four-year-old now gets the chance to repeat the dose and score for the first time at Group Two level.
“She did really well there last time,” said Haggas. “She won well, enjoyed the ground and she won quite nicely. I think that has done her good.
“It is probably a bit of a stronger race this time, but we will see.”
Last season Haggas saw Sea La Rosa follow the same route and have to settle for second in the Lancashire Oaks. The Newmarket handler is hoping for a different outcome this time around.
He added: “We had a filly in the same ownership last year who won the Pinnacle and then got beat in the Lancashire Oaks, but ended up winning a Group One (Prix de Royallieu) at the back-end. So I hope this filly will progress and Saturday will tell us a lot.”
Time Lock was sent off favourite when beaten three lengths in fourth behind Sea Silk Road last month and connections are eyeing a different result for Roger and Harry Charlton’s four-year-old on this occasion.
Barry Mahon, European racing manager for owners Juddmonte, feels ground conditions were against her in that run and is hopeful of turning the tables if an on-song Time Lock turns up in Merseyside.
He said: “I was disappointed watching it, but Ryan (Moore) said afterwards the ground was very quick and she just didn’t appreciate it.
“She actually won on firm ground last year and that’s part of the reason why we went to Haydock, but Ryan felt maybe she got away with it the time before, she’s a bit older and has a few more miles on the clock and she didn’t like it.
“I think they’ve had some rain, so hopefully it’s just nice, good ground on Saturday.
“Her form is intertwined with the favourite. Last year they met each other a few times, we came out on top one day and they came out on top another day.
“If she was to run up to the best of her form you’d think she’d have a good chance. Her last run was a bit disappointing, so we have to hope she can put that behind her.”
Karl Burke’s Poptronic was third in the Lester Piggott Stakes and is another hoping to reverse course form with Sea Silk Road, while Richard Hannon’s Aristia was a Group One winner in France last season, but now steps up to 12 furlongs for just the second time following a lacklustre return in the Middleton Stakes at York.
Also sure to be in the mix is John and Thady Gosden’s Mimikyu who was a non-runner here last month but has two track victories to her name and has stamina to burn judged on her impressive Park Hill victory last term.
The Clarehaven team, along with jockey Robert Havlin, won this race with the George Strawbridge-owned Free Wind 12 months ago and Mimikyu – who also runs in the white and green silks – will bid to not only provide connections with back-to-back victories in the race, but also hand Havlin a fourth Lancashire Oaks 20 years after first striking with Place Rouge.
The jockey said: “The Lancashire Oaks always falls on the same weekend as the Eclipse. It was great when I won the race on Great Heavens as John also won the Eclipse that year with Nathaniel. Hopefully we can have another double this weekend with Mimikyu and Emily Upjohn.
“On these big Saturdays being involved with this yard you can always pick up a decent ride. I’ve been doing that for years and years and I’ll keep batting away at it.
“Mimikyu worked really well at the July course with the hood off. She has been racing with the hood on recently, including in the Bronte Cup, and I really felt an improvement with the hood off.
“She does have a 5lb penalty to carry for winning the Park Hill at Doncaster last year but hopefully she has got the class to overcome it. She is going there with a live chance.”
Tom Ward’s Luisa Casati and Roger Varian’s Peripatetic both arrive having claimed Listed contests at Goodwood in their most recent appearances, while Hughie Morrison’s One For Bobby landed the Nottinghamshire Oaks on stable debut before chasing home Al Husn and Nashwa in the Hoppings Stakes recently.
The field of nine is rounded off by Jim Goldie’s Wickywickywheels who drops back in trip having failed to feature in the Bronte Cup at York.