After the hullaballoo of the Britannia Stakes comes the fillies’ equivalent, a fast one-mile handicap full of unexposed three-year-olds.
Usually that would mean horses into the double figures all showing themselves to be ahead of the handicapper and very hard to split, but this time around there would appear to be one who is the very definition of ‘well in’ and as long as the price doesn’t completely collapse she simply has to be backed.
She might be a short enough price, but it is fascinating to see John Gosden’s African Dream rated only 80 in this handicap and she must be, on paper at least, considered to be an absolute handicap blot.
An average debut in December was followed up with just a reasonable maiden win in March just before lockdown, but in the true style of fillies from this yard she has gone on to improve immeasurably.
Even taking the form of her runner-up effort last time at Newbury at face value, she ran to a mark somewhere in the mid-90’s and indeed she is due to go up to 96 after that run, but gets in here without a penalty having run just six days ago and been beaten.
Furthermore, the horse she was beaten by (Styleistique) had actually previously been running to marks over 100 and this filly had to give her 7lbs! Assuming the ground is OK and she is fit enough to go again, she shouldn’t have any trouble.
Richard Fahey’s filly comes into this contest on the back of a good third at Haydock. The trip and ground are fine, she’s handicapped OK as things stand and the race should work out well for her but given that they are normally wound up by this yard it seems there could be less improvement to come than we’d like.
Other than being drawn on arguably the wrong side, Declared Interest has plenty in her favour and could be set for a bold run.
Having close form with Oriental Mystique and having beaten Rideson in good style last time out, her early runs mark her out as one to follow but if she has to run off 86 it makes her one of many looking badly in versus African Dream.
Andrew Balding is finally getting the credit he deserves as a trainer these days and his filly deserves a place on this list, albeit she like many has a big task on her hands.
A second time out winner before being put in her place by champion juvenile filly Quadrilateral, she can pull out a bit extra on this ground as we’d expect from a daughter of Muharrar and if she does then her mark of 80 looks quite reasonable.
Aside from her running first time out, which doesn’t always goes as planned with horses trained by Sir Michael Stoute, this filly has plenty in her favour and should the favourite fail for any reason it would appear she’s the one who could prove best of the bunch.
Stoute’s horses this time around have been doing the business on their first run of course, so we judge her on her true potential which is that of a filly capable Group 3 form, so even off 97 she should prove her class and should be a rock-solid place contender.
A potential improver for Roger Varian who has run just three times in novices and maidens, meaning more will be pulled out now in handicap company, but there are some negatives.
She finally managed to win last time out, but that was against horses of nowhere near the quality she’ll face here and she has gone off favourite all three times so far meaning she appears to be one of those fillies whose reputation may well be greater than her real ability. Time will tell.
For each-way or place purposes, there may be some value creeping around for Sir Michael Stoute’s filly Soffika who clearly has a good future and who will be aimed at bigger races than this as the season goes on.
However, even when slightly low balling what her last performance actually means, the Gosden runner AFRICAN DREAM just has tons in hand with the only thing able to stop her being the quick turnaround after her last run, something that if it had been expected would have meant her trainer not risking her here.