English 1000 Guineas heroine Hermosa looks a worthy market leader at 11/4 with Unibet to follow-up in the Irish equivalent over 1m at The Curragh on Sunday (16:25).
This Aidan O’Brien trained daughter of Galileo won at the second time of asking as a juvenile, and went on to run well when a keeping on never nearer 3 1/4 lengths third of 10 to Skitter Scatter over 7f in the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes at this venue when losing vital ground having been slowly away.
She finished just a length behind the runner-up Lady Kaya and had stable companion Just Wonderful well behind in seventh.
Hermosa the made all to score in good style over 7f at Naas in a Group 3, before posting a solid effort when a staying on 1 1/2 lengths runner-up to Iridessa in the Group 1 Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket.
She went on to round off the campaign with a fine three-quarters of a length second to Royal Marine in a Group 1 contest over 7f at Chantilly, leaving the impression that she would do well as a three-year-old.
That view was confirmed in no uncertain manner when Hermosa made a winning return to action in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket and made virtually all, finding plenty when briefly headed inside the last to beat Lady Kaya by a length.
She was well in command at the finish and has nothing to fear from the re-opposing third home Qabala for whom there were no excuses.
The same can be said of the fourth home Fairyland, as well as Just Wonderful and Iridessa who finished sixth and eighth respectively, so Hermosa’s claims look rock solid in this.
Qabala has scope to improve
The aforementioned Qabala is one of three British raiders and looks the clear form pick of that trio.
Trained by the in-form Roger Varian, this daughter of Scat Daddy looked a smart prospect when winning her sole start as a juvenile at Newmarket when running very green, but finding plenty under a hands and heels ride to beat Desirous by a neck.
She then took the step up into Group 3 company in her stride on return to action at the same venue and landing the 11-runner Nell Gwyn Stakes over 7f.
Qabala travelled well throughout and, after being produced to take up the running at the furlong marker, showed a useful turn of foot to stretch clear and beat Mot Juste by 1 3/4 lengths.
That taking success saw her sent off a heavily-backed 7/2 favourite for the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket, where she kept on well to be beaten 1 1/4 lengths into third behind Hermosa having received a slight bump when challenging between horses.
It was a terrific run for one so inexperienced and suggested Qabala needed keeping firmly onside.
She still looks far from the finished article and has the scope to go on improving with her racing.
Qabala does, however, have 3lb to find on official ratings with Hermosa, who looked value for more than the winning margin that day and showed a really likeable attitude to get the job done.
She may well have to play second fiddle once again to that rival, but looks sure to make a bold bid to turn around the form and can be backed at 3/1 with Coral to do so.
East not to be underestimated
Yorkshire handler Kevin Ryan sends over a fascinating contender in East, who has proven form at the highest level and is a top-price 8/1 with Boylesports.
This daughter of the mighty Frankel won her first two starts as a juvenile, showing a nice turn of foot in the second of those when comfortably beating Pretty Boy by 2 1/2 lengths in a Group 3 at Saint-Cloud in France.
East then ran very well when chasing home crack American juvenile Newspaperofrecord in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Churchill Downs.
Although no match for the easy six-length winner, she stayed on well from off the pace to snatch second close home.
East has had just one run this season and that saw her run a cracker when a staying on 1 1/2 lengths third of 10 to Castle Lady in the French 1000 Guineas at Longchamp.
That run makes her a player in this and East has shown improved form in each of her four runs, and appeals as the type that has more left in the locker.
She also has the services in the saddle of Jamie Spencer, and this race is likely to be run a string end-to-end gallop which could set up for a closer.
East fits that bill and, granted luck in-running, will be a danger to all if within striking distance at the furlong marker.
Iridessa appeals each-way
Given that Iridessa beat Hermosa last season, she is another that cannot be ruled out and appeals each-way at 10/1 with Paddy Power.
That victory came in the Group 1 Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket where the Joseph O’Brien trained daughter of Derby winner Ruler Of The World was denied a clear run two from home, before running on strongly to score going away by 1 1/2 lengths.
Given home the race panned out it was a terrific run, and Iridessa has shaped nicely in both her starts this season.
After fading late on to finish a 2 1/2 lengths third of 14 to Lady Kaya in a Group 3 over 7f at Leopardstown where soft ground was totally against her, Iridessa was far from disgraced when beaten just three lengths into eighth by Hermosa in the 1000 Guineas.
She showed plenty of pace to track the leaders and held every chance two from home until being unable to find any extra inside the final furlong.
Iridessa should now be fully tuned to do herself justice and only has 2lb to find with Hermosa on official ratings.
She also now encounters quick ground for the first time since her aforementioned impressive success at Newmarket, so may well get much closer to Hermosa this time around.