Trainer Charlie Hills is confident Chriselliam will make her presence felt in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Santa Anita tonight.
The daughter of Iffraaj was a shock winner when claiming Group 1 glory in the Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket last month, showing smart acceleration to pick up top-class filly Rizeena on the run to the line. She is set to face 13 rivals in California, with Richard Hughes keeping the winning partnership intact.
Hills said: “I’m very pleased with her and the way she came over on the trip. She seems to be in top form. She lost eight kilos but has put that back on – plus another four. We’ve always liked her from the word go, really.
“She trains pretty good at home and while she had a couple of starts where she didn’t show what we thought she could do, she managed to put it all together at Newmarket. If she can keep on improving and handle the track, hopefully she will be thereabouts.”
Hughes is in similarly confident mood. “She’s probably as good a filly as I’ve ever ridden,” said the jockey.
In a market dominated by European challengers, Chriselliam is joined by Philippe Sogorb’s French filly Vorda, winner of the Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket. Adding strength to the raiding party is Marco Botti’s Al Thakhira, who took her second win in two starts in Newmarket’s Rockfel Stakes.
Earlier in the evening, on a card being shown in the UK by At The Races, the two-year-old colts get their chance to shine in the Juvenile Turf. Aidan O’Brien saddles Giovanni Boldini (Ryan Moore) and Wilshire Boulevard (William Buick), while Richard Hannon and Hughes are represented by Shamshon.
“Both of them like fast ground and we think both of them should get a mile,” O’Brien said. “They are coming out of solid races and they both haven’t had busy campaigns.”
The European team in the Juvenile Turf is completed by Charlie Appleby’s Godolphin runner Outstrip, who is partnered by top American jockey Mike Smith. The other European runner on the Breeders’ Cup card is London Bridge, who is trained in Lambourn by Jo Hughes and lines up under Smith in the Marathon.
The feature event of the evening in terms of prize-money is the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, with Bill Mott’s Royal Delta bidding for her third successive win in the race. The Hall Of Fame trainer also saddles Close Hatches, who carries the colours of Prince Khalid Abdullah. On running his two star mares against each other, Mott said: “I don’t particularly like running against myself. But, if you’re in the Kentucky Oaks or the Kentucky Derby or the Breeders’ Cup, you just have to do it.”