A cracking renewal of the 1000 Guineas for fillies is the feature race on the Rowley Mile at Newmarket on Sunday (15:35), and Irish raider Skitter Scatter tops official figures.
This daughter of prolific sire Scat Daddy progressed throughout her juvenile campaign and is now in the care of John Oxx, who trained legendary colt Sea The Stars to dual Classic success in 2009.
Skitter Scatter beat subsequent four-time winner Sergei Prokofiev by a short-head in a Dundalk maiden on the all-weather over the flying 5f, but took her form to a new level over further in notching a summer hat-trick.
After chasing home So Perfect at The Curragh, she landed a Group 3 at Leopardstown before twice making successful steps up in grade. Repeating her 7f form over this distance gives Skitter Scatter strong claims of following-up.
This is because she beaten many of the Irish fillies who re-oppose in the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes at The Curragh on her last start.
Skitter Scatter was two lengths too good for Lady Kaya when asserting close home and had the likes of Hermosa and Just Wonderful beaten further in-behind. Those Aidan O’Brien trained rivals were never threatening her at any stage.
The move to Oxx looks significant and, according to BHA ratings, Skitter Scatter has 2lb and upwards in hand on the field. Everything is in place for a big run, so at 6/1 with Unibet looks the value bet in the race.
Just Wonderful and Fairyland fancied from O’Brien quartet
Ballydoyle are well represented in this Classic contest as ever. Just Wonderful scored a taking course success in the 7f Group 2 Rockfel Stakes on her last British start under a hands and heels ride, so a repeat of that gives her claims too.
However, there is that Curragh form to turnaround with Skitter Scatter. Just Wonderful has 10 lengths to find over a furlong further, but did win over this trip in Ireland last season.
While she is 8/1 with Ladbrokes to make a winning reappearance, Group 1 Cheveley Park heroine Fairyland is the highest rated O’Brien runner.
This daughter of Kodiac twice bested The Mackem Bullet over 6f, but the runner-up has since moved to America and scored twice in mile contests for Wes Ward.
Fairyland’s first victory over that former Brian Ellison inmate came in gutsy fashion as she battled backed when headed to land the Group 2 Lowther Stakes at York’s Ebor Festival.
Although getting the trip is an unknown, the damsire of Fairyland – Pivotal – was a miler. She is thus well worth chancing having won at the highest level on the course at 8/1 with Coral.
Completing the O’Brien quartet are Hermosa, who was a runner-up over the Rowley Mile last time out, and Fleeting.
The former certainly does stay but lacked the pace of the winner here and filled the runner-up spot again when weakening close home over 7f in the Group 1 Criterium International on Arc weekend at Longchamp.
May Hill winner Fleeting is the most lightly-raced of the four fillies from her yard, but isn’t tested at this level despite that distance victory in the Doncaster Group 2.
Lady Kaya and Iridessa are other Irish challengers
A deep roster from the Emerald Isle continues courtesy of Lady Kaya and Iridessa. The former is the stable star of Sheila Lavery and chased home both Skitter Scatter and Fairyland in juvenile Group 1 events last season.
As Lady Kaya has come out and won this season, scoring easily by 2 1/4 lengths in a Leopardstown Group 3, she has clearly trained on despite relatively modest connections.
Her runaway 10-length success over Pink Dogwood at The Curragh has also been franked as the runner-up won on reappearance and is now favourite for The Oaks at Epsom.
Taking all that into account, Lady Kaya has plenty going for her and odds of 16/1 with Coral are well worth considering each-way on the pick of her form now pitched back in at the highest level.
Iridressa got the Rowley Mile as a two-year-old and, although beaten by Lady Kaya on return to action, now meets her on 3lb better terms.
That gives the Joseph O’Brien trained daughter of Ruler Of The World claims of reversing the form. In Iridessa, he has the sole course and distance winner in the 15-runner field.
She was ridden out to score by 1 1/2 lengths from Hermosa in the Fillies Mile was only beaten 2 1/2 lengths by Lady Kaya giving weight away at Leopardstown.
The revised terms obviously make Iridessa a contender here at 8/1 with Ladbrokes, but her sire won the Epsom Derby back in 2013 and a lengthier trip may already be what she wants now as a result.
With trainer’s brother Donnacha O’Brien again taking the ride, a bold bid looks assured from the siblings to stop father Aidan winning a fifth 1000 Guineas.
Qabala the leading home hope
There are British fillies in with chances, however, and heading those is Nell Gwyn winner Qabala. Trained by the in-form Roger Varian, she is very lightly-raced and unbeaten in just two career outings over the course.
Although Qabala’s victories have come over 7f, she stayed on strongly on reappearance to win going away at the finish in the Nell Gwyn.
The second, third and fourth fillies home all re-oppose, but there’s no reason why they should reverse the form.
Qabala clearly shaped as though the extra furlong of this will suit, so she is entitled to prominence at 3/1 with Btefred.
Mot Juste confirmed the Oh So Sharp Stakes form when chasing her home and again finishing in front of Angel’s Hideaway.
This other Varian inmate also looks sure to be suited by the additional distance of the 1000 Guineas, whereas the Nell Gwyn third from John Gosden’s yard may not. Mot Juste has attracted plenty of support throughout the week and is now 10/1 with BetVictor here.
Dandhu helped to advertise Just Wonderful’s Rockfel win when landing the Fred Darling by a short-head from Iconic Choice on reappearance for David Elsworth. She is 11/1 with Ladbrokes to take another step up now tackling a mile for the first time.
The other fillies are available at even bigger prices and the home team do look up against it somewhat to stop the Guineas first prize going back to Ireland.
OpenOdds’ 1000 Guineas shortlist
Skitter Scatter ✮✮✮✮✮
Just Wonderful ✮✮✮✮✰