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Tuesday, 19 June 2012

5:00 Royal Ascot: Queen Mary Stakes (Group 2)

A fillies' contest over 5f on good ground at Royal Ascot. A bumper field of twenty-seven runners, seventeen individual winners, one debutante and a solitary Irish raider.

With such a sizeable field we will focus on the main contenders.

Upward Spiral, a February foal, by Teofilo was substantially backed on debut when taking a maiden fillies' stake race at Sandown. From a wide draw, this 80,000gns yearling, showed no sign of inexperience making all for a stylish victory ahead on one of today's rivals Jubilee Diamond. Tom Dascombe has had a rather indifferent season with his juveniles but connections were expecting a big run and it was duly delivered. The form of that race is difficult to assess but it would seem confidence is high of a big performance. It is interesting to note that Qatar Racing Ltd has purchased this youngster after that debut win. Their silks have been seen on a number of similar acquisitions on the first day of the meeting although all fell short. In truth, this pair would have to be backed on reputation rather than proven form and I would take a watching brief.

Graphic Guest is worthy of respect after three starts and a couple of tidy wins. Mick Channon has the knack of finding talented fillies and this daughter of Dutch Art could go well simply because she settles off the pace and strong finish. This factor was exemplified at Windsor when her major contender, Hairy Rocket, got in a speed dual with Just Past Andover. With this pair stopping as quick as they started, this chestnut filly picked up the pieces. The stable know what it takes to win at Royal Ascot and a big run is on the cards.

All Fur Coat held a decent advantage over Channon's filly on debut at Newmarket but may have made the most of race experience. However, Jo Hughe's talent ran a cracking race to take the Lily Agnes without any trouble. This daughter of Multiplex is quite sparely made and not the most attractive compared with some of these finer, strongly-built types. On form, this bay filly makes appeal but physically I wonder if she will be lacking.       

It may be wise to give Hairy Rocket a second chance against Graphic Guest. This daughter of Pivotal has plenty of pace and won with ease on debut. The form of that race has been franked. Richard Hughes wasn't at his best when riding this little filly on her second start, when odds-on to remain unbeaten. In fact, I would go so far to say you can put a line through that defeat. Hughes may have opted for a different stable representative but I would take that with a pinch of salt. At speculative odds she is preferred to Graphic Guest. A speedy horse with sound each way claims.

Irish raider, Mironica, won well on debut but steps back in trip. David Wachman's filly holds fair claims.       

James Given must be over the moon with Jadanna. After winning in style at Pontefract, this daughter of Mujadil won the Hilary Needler. This is a step up in class but this unbeaten filly has size and scope to progress with racing and deserving of respect. 

Another one of Mick Channon's juveniles with a touch of class is Jillnextdoor. The form of that second to Hototo has been franked by Kevin Ryan's youngster winning the Windsor Castle Stakes. This bay filly is held in some regard by the stable and a narrow loss to a Listed-race winner holds merit against a field of mostly unproven horses.

Madam Mojito improved a good deal on her debut win which didn't amount to much but she showed a determined attitude to win at Newcastle. John Quinn's stable will be looking for another sterling effort but more will be needed and I would take a watching brief.

Satsuma is a good-looking filly for David Brown. I was impressed by her debut victory although it wasn't the strongest of races. Time may tell that her defeat by Ahern was still a sound effort. Supporters will be hoping for a big run.

Conclusion: The leading hopes in the betting are very much priced on reputation rather than outstanding form, which tempers enthusiasm. I would give Hairy Rocket another chance. Her debut win was impressive but the second effort was due to a poor ride. A fair each way selection at speculative odds.Mick Channon has a couple of talented juveniles lined up for this contest. Graphic Guest is likely to finish with some purpose. However, the form of Jillnextdoor has been given a boost after Hototo took the Windsor Castle Stakes. Another with a fighting chance. I would stick with Hairy Rocket.