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Royal Ascot at York: Peerless Peeress; Stoute filly lands surprise win to take revenge on Sundrop.

Byline: Tony Smurthwaite reports

PEERESS surprised everyone, including trainer Sir Michael Stoute, when outpointing hot favourite Sundrop and returning superstar Soviet Song in the Windsor Forest Stakes.

The winner, who paid 18-1 on the Tote, had been easily beaten by Sundrop at the Derby meeting over a furlong further than this mile, but yesterday's stronger pace appeared to make the difference.

Stoute had withdrawn another contender, Chic, at the overnight declaration stage, yet was still able to celebrate a repeat win in the race after Favourable Terms landed the inaugural running for the stable 12 months ago.

``We weren't confident at all,'' said Stoute. ``Epsom just didn't suit her, really, but this was a Group 2 race and she is a course winner, so we were hoping to be in the frame. So far, this race has been good to us.''

Stoute was asked on the BBC about his season so far, as at this time in 2003 and 2004 he had trained the Derby winner.

He said: ``It is only mid-June - speak to me at the close of play.

You don't win the Derby every year.''

Victory brought Royal winner number 32 for Mick Kinane, who tracked the principals as Sundrop tried to make all and Soviet Song tucked in behind. When Kerrin McEvoy kicked on up the straight on Sundrop, it looked for a second like Shamardal revisited. However, his filly faltered, allowing Kinane to stoke up his mount to grab the lead with just 100 yards to run.

The Windsor Forest Stakes was created in 2004 as an opportunity for top-flight older fillies in order that they be kept in training rather than retired, a point not lost on Chris Richardson, managing director of Cheveley Park Stud, the owner of Peeress.

Richardson said: ``We hope that Chic will be out soon and [more P attern races for older fillies] certainly gives us the encouragement to keep these horses in training. I think Peeress just needed a stronger pace than at Epsom.''

Sundrop, bandaged behind, pleased her Godolphin connections and may now head to Newmarket's July meeting for the Group 1 Falmouth Stakes if recovering from yesterday's exertions.

Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford said: ``Halfway up the straight it looked as if she had the race sewn up, but it was an honest effort from a quality filly. She goes on this ground, but she would have preferred it much quicker.''

The raceday atmosphere had appeared to tug at the equilibrium of triple Group 1 winner Soviet Song. She entered the parade ring with a single handler, grew warm around the neck, and left the parade with two handlers.

Her trainer James Fanshawe said: ``I am obviously disappointed that we did not win, but I have to be pleased with the way she ran. ``The spring has not been kind to fillies and it has taken Soviet Song time to come to herself, but Johnny [Murtagh] was happy with both her attitude and the way she ran and, like last year, I am sure the race will bring her on. The Falmouth Stakes will be her next port of call.''

race result

Windsor Forest Stakes

1 Peeress .......................14-1 2 Sundrop......................15-8f 3 Soviet Song ..................5-2 Owner: Cheveley Park Stud Trainer: Sir Michael Stoute Jockey: Mick Kinane Groom: Caroline McVie Breeder: Cheveley Park Stud

Distances: 2l, 1 3 4l

CAPTION(S):

Peeress puts her more fancied rivals in their place when landing the Windsor Forest Stakes yesterday. Below right, surprised trainer Sir Michael Stoute shows his delight
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jun 16, 2005
Words:588
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