Along came Polly Pott

Sunday 7th May, 3:40pm

Tahiyra @ 9/4
Meditate @ 8/1
Mammas Girl @ 10/1
Remarque @ 12/1
Dream Of Love @ 12/1
Mawj @ 12/1
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*prices correct at time of writing. 

Despite Ben Pauling’s glowing CV documenting great success training over obstacles, and record breaking haul of 80 winners this season, he admits it has been “something a little bit different” plotting the campaign of Polly Pott – a classic contender on the Flat.

He said: “When we were first asked to train her by the Megsons, she’d only won two races, her nursery and her maiden. She wasn’t quite the horse she’s become.”

“She wasn’t an expensive yearling. We certainly didn’t know we had a Guineas horse on our hands. It’s been wonderful to have the opportunity to train her.”

“It’s been wonderful to have the opportunity to train her…”

Ben also noted the change in Polly’s personality since moving to her new home: “She just takes everything in her stride now where before she used to be a bit highly strung. She’s a character, but she knows her job and she’s been very professional.”

This professionalism, allied with her extensive portfolio of experience in her two-year-old season, has Ben convinced she can outrun her lofty price of 40-1 in Saturday’s 1,000 Guineas showpiece. He said:

“As with all these races, you need a bit of luck. You want to be close to the pace. She’s a big price, I think she’s overpriced. She’s got a rating of 106 which is a lot better than some of the field.”

She’s run around Newmarket before and is quite experienced for a filly going into the Guineas. If there’s a bit of pace she can follow, I think she’ll run a very good race.”

With this weekend’s Guineas meeting set to officially mark the advent of the Flat season, Ben believes the top fillies’ prize is very much up for grabs.

“I see it as a really open Guineas. A few of the more fancied runners have unfortunately met setbacks and haven’t made it. The whole field will go there thinking they have a chance.”

He added: “It’s no different with Flat or Jumps in these big Group and Graded races, you need a lot of luck in running and your horse needs to be on good form – which we know she is. But, of course, we fear the field because they’re all top-quality horses.”

“The whole field will go there thinking they have a chance…”

Jim Crowley will get the leg up on Saturday and Ben believes his wealth of experience makes him an ideal partner for Polly.

“In these group races you just want someone with plenty of experience at that level. Jim is exactly that. He’s ridden in the biggest races for Shadwell, and we know he won’t be fazed by any of it. I’m delighted he’s booked to ride and I’m really looking forward to seeing how they get on.”

As for the rest of the season, Ben has his eyes firmly fixed on Epsom in June. He said: “We certainly came into this season thinking she was probably more of an Oaks filly than a Guineas filly. That said, her work has been very good since she’s joined us, Harry [Dunlop] thinks she’s really strengthened up and has a bit more pace about her.”

“I hope she can be competitive in the Guineas, but the Oaks has always been the main goal. Epsom would hopefully be the next stop, but after that we’ve got entries all over Europe, so we’ll see where the season takes us!”

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