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Classic crop hoping to measure up in mammoth week of racing


Godolphin’s three-year-old divisions in the United States and Europe face key tests in the first major Classics of the year, with strong teams lining up at both Churchill Downs and Newmarket.

The royal blue silks are set to be represented in all four of this week’s Classics – the Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Oaks, 2,000 Guineas and 1,000 Guineas – for only the second time following 2002.

Encino will aim to provide Godolphin with a first Kentucky Derby victory, with the G3 Lexington Stakes victor having cemented his spot in the Run for the Roses with an impressive workout on Saturday morning.

Bernardini filly Tarifa is among the leading contenders for Friday’s Kentucky Oaks as she looks to emulate the victory of Pretty Mischievous 12 months ago. There are strong parallels between the duo, with both having taken in the G2 Rachel Alexandra Stakes and G2 Fair Grounds Oaks as part of their preparations.

Unbeaten colt Notable Speech brings an unusual profile into the 2,000 Guineas, with the Dubawi homebred having won all three of his starts on Polytrack at Kempton Park.

Mawj took last year’s 1,000 Guineas on the back of two wins at Meydan and Cinderella’s Dream brings the same profile into the race. Dance Sequence also runs in the fillies’ Classic following a neck second in the G3 Nell Gwyn Stakes at the Craven meeting.

A host of horses are also due to line up in the supporting races on both sides of the Atlantic, with Eclipse Award winner Pretty Mischievous making her four-year-old return in Friday’s G1 La Troienne Stakes.

First Mission, Nash, Mischief Magic, Legend Of Time and Naval Power will be chasing Graded Stakes prizes at Churchill Downs as well, with King Of Conquest, Castle Way and Silver Lady all holding entries at Newmarket’s Guineas meeting.

Only four weeks separate the 2,000 Guineas and the Derby, and Arabian Crown already has the Epsom Downs Classic firmly in his sights following an impressive victory in the G3 Classic Trial at Sandown Park on Friday.