The big race for three-year-old fillies on the penultimate day of Royal Ascot this Friday is the Coronation Stakes over a mile (16:20), and dual Guineas heroine Hermosa looks a worthy favourite at evens with Bethard for a Group 1 hat-trick.
Trained in Ireland by the mighty Aidan O’Brien, this daughter of double Derby winner Galileo has emulated her sire in winning consecutive Classics.
Hermosa broke the maiden tag on her second career start on soft ground at Galway and went on to place three times at the highest level as a juvenile. She has since improved past her conquerors at two by training on over the winter.
There’s been no catching Hermosa this season as she made all to beat the ill-fated Lady Kaya by a length on the Rowley Mile in the English Guineas before following-up in the Irish equivalent at The Curragh.
It was an even more comfortable victory for Hermosa, who was ridden clear from the furlong marker and stayed on strongly for a decisive four-length victory over the re-opposing Pretty Pollyanna.
That has earned her an official rating of 118 – the highest in this line-up. Given she hasn’t seen a rival this season, Hermosa may have more in hand over the field than figures suggest.
She may well be the best miler not just of her sex but all three-year-olds this year. Completing the hat-trick on going that holds no fears would underline her claims, and Hermosa simply can’t be opposed here.
Castle Lady and Jubiloso have claims
Two fillies put unbeaten records on the line in the Coronation Stakes. Castle Lady goes for Godolphin after winning the French Guineas on her first Group 1 outing.
This daughter of Shamardal has made rapid progress winning all three career starts. After starting off on the all-weather at Chantilly, Castle Lady made the step up into Group 3 company when following-up at Longchamp.
Connections then pitched her in at the highest level for the French 1000 Guineas, where she led approaching the final furlong and stayed on strongly to just prevail by a nose. At 7/1 with Unibet, Castle Lady is a solid each-way bet.
The least exposed of the 10-runner line-up is the Sir Michael Stoute trained Jubiloso. She is a half-sister to Castle Lady who takes a massive step up in class, but was hugely impressive on both her career starts to date.
This Khalid Abdullah owned filly drew clear under a hands and heels ride on debut to score in a 6f all-weather maiden at Chelmsford by 2 3/4 lengths.
Jubiloso duly followed-up on that when stepped up to 7f at Newbury and making all. She travelled strongly throughout and only needed pushing clear a furlong from home to score by seven lengths.
You can question what Jubiloso has beaten, but the manner in which she has won these minor races is very taking. Royal Ascot’s all-time leading trainer Stoute has a filly who could be anything on his hands.
An opening mark of 101 could seriously underestimate Jubiloso and there is still tons of scope for further improvement.
This demands infinitely more, but Jubiloso could end up being the one to give Hermosa most to think about and she is 9/2 with BetVictor to upset the hot favourite.
Pretty Pollyanna could also go well
Although there are doubts about her ability to stay the trip, Pretty Pollyanna was the best of the rest behind Hermosa in the Irish 1000 Guineas and on that basis is each-way value.
Trained by Michael Bell, the daughter of Oasis Dream has some very smart form as a juvenile when progressing quickly to land a Group 1 in France on just her fourth career start.
That followed a seven-length success in the Group 2 Duchess Of Cambridge Stakes during the July Festival at Newmarket that saw Pretty Pollyanna’s rivals encounter all sorts of trouble in-running behind her.
Although later only fourth to Fairyland in the Group 1 Cheveley Park, she was far from disgraced on her first step up in trip and final start of last season when beaten just over two lengths by Iridessa in the Fillies’ Mile.
Runner-up Hermosa confirmed the form in the Irish 1000 Guineas, but both Pretty Pollyanna and her have since improved past Iridessa over this distance.
The Classic heroine is the most worthy of favourites here, yet odds of 9/1 with Paddy Power each-way look well worth chancing on Pretty Pollyanna – especially if the precocious Jubiloso proves too inexperienced to handle this big occasion.