The Fugue camp have grounds for optimism

The Fugue ridden by William Buick (no.11) riding to third place in the Prince of Wales's Stakes during day two of the Royal Ascot meeting at Ascot Racecourse, Berkshire.
The Fugue ridden by William Buick (no.11) riding to third place in the Prince of Wales's Stakes during day two of the Royal Ascot meeting at Ascot Racecourse, Berkshire.
Markov and jockey Tom Bellamyon their way to victory. Picture: Fontwell Park

Honeyball hat-trick lights up Fontwell

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Her Royal Ascot return proved she can handle it.

Trainer John Gosden is convinced there is nothing to fear.

And now The Fugue will tackle fast ground again as she bids to beat the boys and claim a second Group 1 triumph.

The four-year-old Dansili filly was barely shaken up as she romped to Nassau glory at Glorious Goodwood last summer.

Gosden has long considered a defence of her title on Saturday, August 3.

But first The Fugue will head to Sandown for the Coral-Eclipse on Saturday (3.50pm).

It will be her second run of the season after she finished third in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot last month.

She passed the post behind the triumphant Al Kazeem and Mukhadram that day on ground rated good-to-firm.

Prior to the race, there were question marks over the conditions in Gosden’s mind.

She has never won on any surface quicker than good.

But after the filly continued her fine record of finishing in the first three in all but one of her nine career starts, the Newmarket handler is certain his charge will once again take it in her stride.

And this time he is eyeing the top prize as The Fugue aims for a first win in a Group 1 race against colts – and revenge over her two Berkshire conquerors.

‘She ran a good race (at Royal Ascot on her return),’ said Gosden.

‘The first two were of a very high standard coming into the race and I was thrilled with her.

‘We have the Nassau and King George (Ascot, July 27) after the Eclipse – we will look at all those races.

‘But the key thing is she likes this ground.’

The news coming out of Sandown has been music to Gosden’s ears.

Officials at the Surrey track are aiming to deliver ground no quicker than good-to-firm for Saturday’s feature contest.

The surface was good, good-to-firm yesterday.

And with a mostly dry week in prospect, clerk of the course Andrew Cooper has not ruled out turning the taps on again.

‘We are on a mixture of good and the fast side of good ground,’ he said.

‘If we hadn’t watered last week we would be like the M40 at the moment!

‘From a ground perspective we try to make sure we are no quicker than good-to-firm.

‘We are happy with conditions at the moment and we will review the ground conditions and our watering strategy every day.

‘But at the moment the track is in good shape.’

Cooper is looking forward to the feature race.

He is delighted to see the talented list of entries, which supports their decision to invest in the card.

‘The Coral-Eclipse looks to me a fascinating contest,’ he added.

‘We have worked on the card over the years and we are happy with the balance.’

Aside from 6/4 ante-post favourite Al Kazeem and Mukhadram (6/1), The Fugue (7/2) will face five other rivals.

The best of those is Aidan O’Brien’s Sussex Stakes entry Declaration Of War (5/2), whose stable-mates Camelot (6/1) and Mars (9/2) are also set to race.

The field is completed by Pastorius (7/1) and outsider Miblish (33/1).