A Group 2 confined to fillies and mares, run over the straight mile. This is always an intriguing contest and has been won in the past by some very classy mares including the incredible Soviet Song. Our Duke Of Cambridge Stakes tips and betting preview is below.
IN SUMMARY: USHERETTE won this contest in 2016 and although the ground is going to be very different this time around, trainer Andre Fabre is adamant that she will handle it and having been trained specifically for this meeting, she is going to take plenty of beating against her own sex. Laugh Aloud looks her main rival, John Gosden’s filly improving massively this season while Qemah and Smart Call are also likely to find themselves in the mix.
1 FURIA CRUZADA – Has done most of her winning over further, with her last run over the mile coming when she finished second to Usherette in this race last season, perhaps benefiting from the emphasis on stamina. She’s unlikely to be filling that position this season with the ground conditions firmly against her, hard to see her playing a role this year and likely best watched.
2 OPAL TIARA – In good form at present for Mick Channon, winning a Group 2 out in Meydan in February and she was far from disgraced when second in a Group 2 at the Curragh in May. She does however have a three pound penalty to contend with after that Group 2 win and that is likely to see her vulnerable in a race of this nature despite the ground being in her favour and Oisin Murphy taking the ride.
3 ABSOLUTE BLAST – NON RUNNER
4 AIM TO PLEASE – Not necessarily disgraced on her latest start when third at Newmarket in Group 2 company, but she was ultimately well beaten to the tune of seven lengths and that effort needs building upon if she’s to be threatening. Conditions will suit and Gerald Mosse is a solid jockey booking, but it’s hard to see her playing a prominent role in a tougher race this time around. Unlikely to be involved.
5 ALJAZZI – Rated thirteen pounds inferior to Qemah and although she is capable of a big run on her day for Marco Botti, including her win at Kempton in Listed company in April, she can be very unpredictable as her latest well beaten effort in the Dahlia Stakes at Newmarket proved. She was behind Aim To Please on that occasion and she is likely booked for a struggle at these weights.
6 DAWN OF HOPE – Has twice won here at Ascot on the round mile, with the latest of those coming in April 2016 in Conditions company and she is unlikely to be able to make it three in a race such as this. Roger Varian’s string are in brilliant form, but her second run this season when well beaten in the bet365 Mile at Sandown was disappointing and she doesn’t seem up to this level. She will handle conditions and Andrea Atzeni is a good jockey booking, but others make far more appeal.
7 LAUGH ALOUD – Godolphin first string for John Gosden who made a smart impression on her return, making all the running in a Listed contest at Goodwood, before following up in a Group 3 at Epsom. She really appreciated the quick ground at Goodwood, making it a perfect 3/3 on good to firm ground. This is a considerable step up in class, but the way she stretched clear on that occasion suggests there is more in the tank and she is interesting as a front runner. Considered.
8 MIX AND MINGLE – Has won her last two races for Chris Wall, winning a handicap at Newmarket on her penultimate start before winning the Chartwell Fillies’ Stakes at Lingfield on her latest start. She beat Qemah on that occasion but that rival had excuses and it’s hard to take that beating at face value, as Qemah was keen and then bumped, having to switch on multiple occasions. This is her toughest test yet and although she will love conditions, place claims are the best she can hope for in this.
9 PIROUETTE – Consistent performer for Hughie Morrison who ran another solid race to finish second in the Maggie Dickson Stakes at Musselburgh, keeping on well but never able to challenge. On that evidence the step up in trip should suit and with how deadly consistent she is she cannot be ruled out for the placings under Jim Crowley, though she isn’t a likely winner with others simply more talented horses.
10 QEMAH – Successful at Royal Ascot of 2016, her win notched up in the Group 1 Coronation Stakes where among her victims was Alice Springs. She signed off last season in the Matron Stakes, sent off favourite for the Leopardstown contest but she pulled away her chance in the early stages. She was disappointing on her return in the Chartwell Stakes at Lingfield when well seen off by Mix And Mingle, but she had the worst of the draw there and was sympathetically handled once beaten. She is likely to strip much fitter now and her overall form entitles her to be favoured in the market.
11 SAME JURISDICTION – Very smart horse in South Africa but she is yet to transfer that form since joining Ed Dunlop in Britain, a shade disappointing when only able to muster up second in conditions company at Leicester when last seen. On that basis she remains opposable as she is yet to show the form needed to be competitive in this contest since the switch, so is best watched.
12 SMART CALL – High class performer in South Africa when with the A G Laird yard, signing off from that yard with a Grade 1 victory at Kenilworth in January 2016. She made her debut for Sir Michael Stoute after over a year off in the Middleton Stakes at York in May, keeping on well to finish third, only beaten around two lengths. With race fitness now on her side and Ryan Moore in the saddle to do the steering, she is an intriguing runner as she will handle the ground and she has proven she has the class to compete at this level. Has to be respected for a yard in good form.
13 SUMMER ICON – Worst chance on the ratings, rated 19 pounds inferior to top-rated Qemah and she has shown little this season to suggest she can threaten in a race of this nature, well beaten at Musselburgh in Listed company on her latest start. Impossible to fancy her and best watched.
14 TURRET ROCKS – Won her penultimate start at the Curragh in the Group 3 Blue Wind Stakes, keeping on strongly to lead in the final fifty yards and she won going away in the end. Slower ground counted against her when only third at the same venue on her latest start, but she will be far more comfortable this time around and the yard is in great form at present. Couldn’t be discounted for the placings under Kevin Manning as she’s very useful on her day but likely she isn’t good enough for win purposes.
15 USHERETTE – Won this race twelve months ago on softer going but flopped in the Falmouth Stakes when seen on quick ground at Newmarket. Trainer Andre Fabre is adamant that the ground isn’t a concern for her, “She acts on good ground and she has been tenderly prepared for this because she was off for a long time.” She has been primed for a return to this meeting and for one of the most highly respected French trainers, she is going to take all the beating.
16 GRETA G – Another runner from further afield who has joined a top British yard, with this three year old daughter of Exchange Rate winning impressively on her final start in Argentina to win the Group 1 Gran Premio Mil Guineas at San Isidro. She has subsequently joined John Gosden and is a fascinating contender, as it’s very hard to know how good she will really be so the market will likely be the best guide.