FROM our Friday Newsletter, this report on South Africa’s star mare, Smart Call:

TRAINER Alec Laird, speaking to Tom Stanley of Racing UK at Abington Place, Newmarket, earlier this week, said that he was looking forward to the start of five-year-old mare’s Smart Call’s campaign, that starts with the Sun Chariot Stakes at The Rowley Mile on 1 October.

“She’s tightened up and she has a nice sheen to her coat. When she arrived here from her spell in quarantine in Mauritius she had a bit of a coat, out of season, but we clipped her and she’s looking good.

“Mauritius has a small hacking track so we couldn’t do much work, she arrived here probably 50%, but she had a lovely holiday and she’s doing well.”

Asked about Smart Call’s success in the 2016 J&B Met, Laird said: “We expected a big run, but we didn’t think she’d win like that. It was her first time against the colts and the second horse was voted Horse Of The Year. So she’s the best horse to come out of South Africa this year. She’s the best filly I’ve trained, perhaps even the best horse I’ve trained.”

Laird said that the Sun Chariot was “a good starting point” for Smart Call en route to the Breeders’ Cup on 5 November. “She won both her starts over 2000m and on her pedigree and the way she won she’ll get a mile-and-a-half.

“The Sun Chariot will be Smart Call’s first run over the straight mile, she may be a bit strong and fresh but it will be interesting to see how she shapes against the English runners.”

He remained confident that Jessica Slack’s mare will come through her test with flying colours and said: “She’s special. She’s a big girl, she’s confident.”

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