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Last Updated: 11/07/13 12:06pm
Sky Lantern: Could make the running on Friday
Richard Hannon jnr is confident 1000 Guineas and Coronation Stakes heroine Sky Lantern remains at the peak of her powers as she prepares to test her mettle against her elders in the Etihad Airways Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket.
A Group One-winning juvenile but beaten on her three-year-old debut in the Nell Gwyn Stakes, the grey filly Sky Lantern made a huge step forward to give jockey Richard Hughes his first taste of British Classic glory on the Rowley Mile in early May.
She was even more impressive at Royal Ascot, showing breathtaking acceleration to come from last to first and win going away by upwards of four lengths.
Now she has proven herself the best of her generation, she faces two talented older fillies in Giofra and Elusive Kate, first and second respectively in last year's Falmouth.
Hannon jnr, son and assistant to his father, said: "She seems in great form. It's always very difficult when horses go and win races like that in the fashion she did. You don't really have an idea what it has taken out of her until you take her to the races. Her weight is very good and we've been happy with her work since.
"I must admit I hoped she'd win (at Ascot) but I never thought she'd win like that from that draw.
"We were lucky the race went very nicely for her and the wide draw turned out to our advantage.
"She's taking on the older mares on Friday, so we're not sure how it's going to go."After being narrowly denied by Giofra in this race a year ago, the John Gosden-trained Elusive Kate went on to claim Group One honours in the Prix Rothschild at Deauville before running three more sound races in defeat.
Now a four-year-old, the filly made a pleasing reappearance when fourth in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot and while Gosden expects his charge to be sharper for this latest test, he does fear the threat posed by Sky Lantern.
Gosden told www.newmarketracecourses.co.uk: "It's an exciting race and as tight an elite field as you would see. I'm happy at this stage, she needed the race a little bit in the Queen Anne but that's no surprise as it was her first run since October.
"She has done fine since Royal Ascot. Obviously that was a strong race and she was against the colts.
"You'd have to say Sky Lantern produced an exceptional performance at Royal Ascot, and tactically it's going to be interesting."
William Buick takes the ride on Elusive Kate and he, too, is excited about seeing her clash with Sky Lantern.
Buick said: "She always runs a good race, she's never run a bad race in her life.
"It's a small field but a very tough race this year. There's the Coronation winner Sky Lantern in there so it's a solid race.
"She ran very well in the Queen Anne and she was always going to come on for the race, she's fitter now and she's ready."