YORK, ENGLAND // Vita Nova bids to get her career back on track this afternoon when she takes on a high-quality field in the Group 1 Yorkshire Oaks.
Owned by Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifa and trained by Sir Henry Cecil, the Galileo filly has taken time to come to hand and looked ready to show her true worth last time out in the Lancashire Oaks.
Vita Nova went to make a race-winning challenge two furlongs from the finishing post but at a crucial moment Tom Queally's saddle slipped. The Irish jockey clung on, despite appearing to be in a precarious position, and once he had kicked out both of his irons the filly ran on to finish second to Gertrude Bell.
Their task is not an easy one. In Godolphin's Blue Bunting, Banimpire and Wonder Of Wonders she faces the first three home in the Group 1 Irish Oaks last month. Crystal Capella will also provide a stern test, but despite the stiff challenge connections seem confident of success.
"Vita Nova probably would have won the Lancashire Oaks had the saddle not slipped," Salim Al Ketbi, Sheikh Sultan's racing manager, said. "We are not disappointed with the incident, it was rather unlucky and we are pleased that she came out of the race in good form. She has always been a big filly and needed time to grow into her frame. Hopefully we will be rewarded with the patience we have given her."
Yesterday was dominated by Khalid Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, who won the Great Voltigeur Stakes with Sea Moon and the International with Twice Over.
Twice Over showed exactly why so many felt he would win the Dubai World Cup in March before disappointing in ninth. The six year old edged out Midday, his stablemate, in a thrilling tussle in the final furlong to hand the Prince his first win in the Group 1 contest he has sponsored through his Juddmonte breeding operation for 22 years.
"I am delighted for the Prince," Cecil, the victorious trainer, said. "I told him if we don't win it today we are going to have to wait to win it with Frankel next year. I wanted to win it for him, and they both deserved to run, didn't they? How did you know which was going to win?"