Pam Sly says soft ground would be a big boost for Astral Beau's chances in the Howden Dahlia Stakes

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Astral Beau will be pitched into Group Two company this weekend, with trainer Pam Sly hoping the handicapper is proved correct. The four-year-old Brazen Beau filly has been hiked 21lb to a mark of 107 after taking the Listed Doncaster Mile by four lengths and now goes up in trip for the Howden Dahlia Stakes at Newmarket on Sunday. Sly, who part-owned and trained Astral Beau's 1000 Guineas-winning granddam Speciosa, has seen Astral Beau win five of her 10 career starts, including three victories at Newmarket last term. The trainer hopes there will be enough ease in the ground ahead of a possible clash with the Godolphin pair of Life In Motion and With The Moonlight, as well as Falmouth winner Prosperous Voyage, in the nine-furlong event. "She'd have a chance if it rains," said Sly. "She likes juice in the ground. All her form is on good to soft or soft ground. The whole family need it - all things from Speciosa, they all need that. "I think the handicapper thinks she has a chance by putting her up 21lb! There is nothing I can do about it - it's how life is.

"She won at the beginning of the season when it was wet and then towards the end she won three, again when the ground was a bit easier. "I haven't got plans beyond this weekend, that's the trouble. I have to see what happens on Sunday and go from there and see what I can find. "I shall not try to keep her fit all the time if there is nothing to run her in, but I think she'll stay. It's only another furlong. As long as it rains, you know I'll be there with a chance." Sly, who trains at Thorney in Cambridgeshire, does have clearer focus for Wintercrack. She caused a 20-1 surprise when downing Baaeed's half-brother Naqeeb, who was third when making his debut in a 10-furlong maiden at Leicester on Friday. Wintercrack, a daughter of Speciosa, made all in testing conditions under Kieran O'Neill and the Cracksman filly will now have her sights raised with a trip to Chester planned next Wednesday. "The first time I ran her, as a two-year-old, she was drawn very wide at Southwell and on Thursday night she was a 150-1 shot," Sly added. "But again, that's weather-related. She likes the soft ground. I'm actually going to put her in the Cheshire Oaks (May 10) - I must be mad, mustn't I? "She's fine and I'm going to step her up a furlong and a bit."

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