By Dave Stevos
It has been a meeting of ups and downs so far at Royal Ascot and the highlight so far has got to be the stunning win by Lady Aurelia in the Queen Mary on Wednesday. Wesley Ward is a master with these speedy 2yo fillies and she annihilated her opponents. The turn of foot she showed was astonishing and one can only imagine how quick she will be on better ground. A Shin Hikari was the lowlight as he ran an absolute stinker. It just goes to show that there is no such thing as a certainty in racing! There is an excellent card of racing on Friday and below are my thoughts on the two Group 1 contests.
Well this race is all about one filly for me and Quiet Reflection is undoubtedly the one to beat. With Acapulco out due to the ground conditions she has shortened up in the betting considerably and the biggest price available at the time of writing on Wednesday night is the 5/2 with Sportingbet. My advice would be to take that price if you can because I can see this filly going off a lot shorter on the day.
This 3yo daughter of Showcasing has been a revelation this season but if you followed her as a 2yo what she has done this season isn’t that big of a surprise. She has always looked like a special filly and her trademark blistering turn of foot was apparent from an early stage. She is five from six in her short career so far and her only defeat came when she was plunged into Group 2 company on just her second start. That was too much too soon but she hasn’t looked back since and she produced her most spectacular performance yet back in a Group 2 in the Sandy Lane at Haydock (6f gd) last time.
She was held up in rear by a cool, calm and collected Dougie Costello as Gifted Master took them along at a good clip in front. Buratino was sent to the front 2f out but still Dougie waited, just edging her out to ensure she had a clear run when he decided to push the button. He did just that a furlong out and the response was both immediate and impressive. She quickened up and put the race to bed in an instant, putting some horses with serious form in the book well and truly in their place. She has won on heavy ground, as well as good to soft, so the underfoot conditions won’t be a worry.
She is the highest rated horse in the field yet she gets a 3lb allowance from her male rivals. Of those rivals she has already beaten Donjuan Triumphant, La Rioja, Buratino and Money Maker. Of those four I believe the biggest danger is La Rioja as she is sure to strip fitter from that seasonal return and the return to soft ground will not inconvenience her. However, whether she will find enough improvement to turn around a 7L deficit with Quiet Reflection is highly unlikely. Log Out Island will ensure it is a truly run race and hopefully Quiet Reflection can travel smoothly in rear before making her race winning move as they enter the final furlong. It could be a red letter day for her owners, the OntoAWinner syndicate, as this would be their maiden Group 1 winner. Hopefully she can do the business and show the world just how good a filly she is.
STEVOS’ SELECTION: QUIET REFLECTION WIN (NAP) 5/2 SPORTINGBET
This Group 1 fillies contest will be run over a mile and not many of the contenders will be happy with the rain that has fallen in the last few days. One trainer who was allegedly spotted performing a rather energetic rain dance out on the Curragh last week was Adrian Keatley and the weather Gods have smiled on him. The heavens have opened and his star filly Jet Setting travels over from his base near the Curragh to take on the best of the best, just like she did when landing the Irish 1000 Guineas.
The rise of this daughter of Fast Company has been a real rags to riches story and she was sold for over £1 million earlier this week to China Horse Club. It wasn’t Richard Hannon’s greatest move to let her go for £12k last winter, but that is the way the cookie crumbles sometimes in racing and he will likely have plenty more talented fillies in the future. For an up and coming trainer like Keatley though this is the horse of a lifetime and what better way to put your name on the map than by winning an Irish Classic.
There were excuses galore from the O’Brien camp in the aftermath of the 1000Guineas after his star filly Minding was out battled in the final furlong by Jet Setting, but once the dust had settled he was more gracious in defeat. He admitted that his filly was simply beaten by a better horse on the day, and the form was franked in a big way when Minding went on to win the Oaks at Epsom in spectacular fashion.
The one thing that Jet Setting needs to be seen to best effect is soft ground and that is what she will get on Friday. Dusty Foley will get on with things out in front and look to dictate the pace. She showed at the Curragh that she has as much bravery as she does ability and it is always best to have a horse with battling qualities like her on your side. She is 6lb clear on the ratings, she will love the ground, the trip is perfect and she has beaten a fair few of these already. As A Shin Hikari showed on Wednesday there is no such thing as a certainty in racing, but it is hard to oppose this filly on the form of that Guineas run. I think the 9/4 available from William Hill is a more than fair price and she is a confident selection to land a second Group 1 for rising star Adrian Keatley.
STEVOS’ SELECTION: JET SETTING WIN 9/4 WILLIAM HILL