times in the history of the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) a
trainer has posted back-to-back victories in the race for 3-year-old
John Shirreffs could become the fourth to complete the double when he sends out a double-barreled threat in George Krikorian’s Star Billing and Eric Kronfeld’s Nereid.
The careers of Star Billing and Nereid almost mirror that of Harmonious, who romped to a 4¼-length victory in last year’s QE II.
came into last year’s race with a record of 5-3-1-0 that included a
victory in the American Oaks (G1) and a runner-up finish in the Del Mar
Oaks (G1). Star Billing’s record is 5-2-2-1 and Nereid’s is 5-3-1-1.
is hard to compare horses,” said Shirreffs, who was optimistic about
the chances of Harmonious last year. “When you have a horse that is
improving, you always feel good about their chances. That’s the way it
is with these two.”
Billing, a daughter of Dynaformer, and Nereid, a daughter of Rock Hard
Ten, have faced each other twice in the afternoon. Nereid dead-heated
with Cambina in the American Oaks with Star Billing finishing a head
back in third. In the Del Mar Oaks, Star Billing finished second to QE
II rival Summer Soiree but finished a nose in front of Nereid.
are very comparable to each other and it is hard to separate them,”
Shirreffs said. “One day, one is better than the other and the next day,
it is the other one that is better. They have not worked together.”
Is it hard to juggle two talented fillies traveling the same upward path?
is kind of like do you view the glass as half full or half empty,”
Shirreffs said. “But the owners get along well and they are happy to
compete with each other.”
that have won the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup in consecutive years
are Woody Stephens (1985 with Contredance and 1986 with Lotka), John
Veitch (1987 with Graceful Darby and 1988 with Love You by Heart) and
Joe Orseno (1999 with Perfect Sting and 2000 with Collect the Cash).