A Fillies' Conditions Stakes over 5f on firm going. Six two year olds take part: three raced, including two debut winners, and a trio on their race course bow . Interesting that the winners carry no penalty for winning at class 5, while those making their race course debutes have a three pound allowance. Both winners have been entered to run in the Lily Agnes (6th May), which they are unlikely to compete [although you can never quite tell with David Evans].
Last year this race was won by Tiggy Wiggy [pictured] on her second start after an effortless victory at Kempton on the first day of the 2014 Flat season. Her greatest achievement - from a string of wins - came when taking the Cheveley Park Stakes (Group 1). Ultimately, crowned Cartier Champion Two-Year-Old Filly. An exceptional talent.
Great Page will start a short priced favourite after a stylish debut win at Windsor two weeks ago. This bay filly was made market leader that day and although it was seemingly a lowly race judge by class I could well turn out to be a fair juvenile contest. There were a number of nice physical specimens, which says something as fillies look good, bad and ugly. This Irish bred daughter of Roderic O'Connor ran well, held up just off the page, which was set by one of today's opposition, a good number too keen throughout the race. Middleham Park Racing will be holding their breath in hope she can emulate last year's victress. It is never wise to limit the talent of a winning thoroughbred. Great Page showed ample promise at Windsor and if aspiration of Royal Ascot are to be realised she will need to win well.
Hannon has a second representative, Illuminate, a debutante sired by Zoffany out of an unraced mare. She was purchased at the yearling sales by Peter & Ross Doyle Bloodstock for £95,000. This bay filly is in the ownership Denford Stud. Hannon has been known to pull a few aces from his sleeves when it comes to talented ''second strings'' turning up to spoil the party of favourite backers. It is unlikely to be the case today but if seriously backed take note.
John Bridger isn't known for training two year olds and those which could be termed as talented are very very few. Wait long enough and a good horse may come along, I can imagine connections hold those thoughts about Stormflower. This daughter of Arcano may have been a cheap yearling purchase at 4,200GNS. She looks a good purchase. A filly with size and scope to progress with racing, her Achilles' heal was her delight in pulling for the majority of the race. Make no mistake, this juvenile has ability and if learning to settle could make her presence felt. The betting will be skewed because Great Page gave his April foal a fair beating. In addition, being trained by what some would consider a ''less fashionable stable'' she could well be tagged as the outsider of the field. Stakes races can be competitive affairs - you can never quite tell who is eyeing-up the prize. If huge odds are available on the exchanges I'd be tempted to have a small bet and try and lay at considerably sorter odds in-running. Interesting.
David Evans is a shrewd trainer who knows the strength and weakness of his juveniles. Nag's Wag is an Irish bred daughter of Approve and purchased cheaply by the trainer at the yearling sales. This January foal wasn't fancied in the betting on debut at Bath but showed a professional attitude, always in front rank and battled to regain the lead in the closing stages. That was a very restricted race type which may hold the form down. The second that day - Rogue's Gallery - was second next start but it was a similarly race type, although the winner is fair. Once again, it is difficult to limit a winning horse. On balance, I would imagine Nag's Wag is set a fair test by the likely favourite.
Charlie Hills has sent out a couple of two year olds to date and it is interesting Komedy is starting her career at stakes class. It is probably a sign his daughter of Kodiac will be victorious this formative season. She is half-sister to Jane's Memory, trained by Rae Guest, who has been placed at Group 2. Komedy cost 70,000eur at the yearling sales. The betting is the best guide and if priced 13/2 & less has fair win and place claims.
Sixties Sue is trained by Mick Channon, who has been relatively quiet this early season. This daughter of Sixties Icon is out of a mare similarly trained and full sister to Scargill who wasn't the best talent but a gritty character winning twice at plating class. Sixties Sue cost 40,000gns at the yearling sales. The betting is the best guide. If priced over 8/1 I would take a watching brief.
Conclusion: A fascinating race. Stakes race can often seem predictably straight forward - other times an enigma. Great Page could well start 1/2f. She sets the standard and after a stylish debut could be earmarked for Roayl Ascot. She is a good-looking filly and with Tiggy Wiggy winning this race last punters will have a bee in their bonnet. The horse to beat but not one I would back at odds-on. Nag's Wag didn't win a great race on debut but win she did. On balance, I would consider she has something to prove but it pays to respect a winner. The debutantes are best watched, especially if priced outside 13/2 SP. Stormflower is one of those horses that excites and traumatises in equal measure when betting. John Bridger may have a horse with an element of ability but will she pull keenly as seen on debut? That wouldn't help her cause. She has pace and if stealing an easy lead could take some catching. If touching fancy odds on the exchanges she must be worth a small bet and try to lay your stake in-running and hope the wind is blowing in the right direction. Being beaten by Great Page predicts she could be over priced [contrast theory]. It would be a speculative punt at 20/1+.