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Shirreffs Goes After Repeat in QE II

Three 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 fillies.

 

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.

 

Harmonious 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.

 

“It 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.”

 

Star 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.

 

“They 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?

 

“It 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.”

 

Trainers 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).


 

 

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