Often referred to as the fillies’ St Leger this mile and three quarter event has gone to fillies of the quality of Wild Coco from the late and much missed Sir Henry Cecil and Gretchen last season for John Gosden, though we also note that Sir Michael Stoute won it twice in a row in 2007 and 2008. This year the in-form trainer has Abingdon (5/2) entered here, and the fast improving daughter of Street Cry has to be of interest. Last season she had a solitary educational run when fourth to the well-regarded Diamonds Pour Moi at Kempton but this season has seen a major sea change. After winning her maiden at Ascot she stepped straight up to Listed class at Newbury over a mile and a quarter which she followed with a two length second to Fireglow over a mile and a half at Newmarket, but she got back on the winning trail with a Listed win at York in the Galtres Stakes where she ran on well over the twelve furlongs. That form looks a little short of what’s likely to be needed here but she is still improving and it would not be the biggest surprise ever were she to get involved in the finish once again.
When Aidan O’Brien has an entry we all sit up and take notice and this time he is looking for a Group Two win with Pretty Perfect (8/1 Each Way). A daughter of (you guessed it) Galileo out of a Danehill mare, she has already won at Group Three level when seeing off Shamreen by a comfortable four lengths at Cork on a softer surface in the Munster Oaks, and was fourth when last seen at York in the Yorkshire Oaks behind stable companions Seventh Heaven and Found. Given good ground and nothing faster she can improve again this afternoon and add yet more prize money to the Ballydoyle coffers.
Ralph Beckett has two in here and it looks like they will both run, headed in our view by Simple Verse (5/1) who won the Group One St Leger last season. She is a brave and competitive filly and won’t go under without a fight but hasn’t been seen at her very best yet this season and has a bit to prove. So far she has a second to Exosphere, a well beaten fourth to Postponed, and a seventh to Dartmouth on her 2016 CV but she has been off track since mid-June and whoever backs her here will need to assume that she is back to her very best today and where is the evidence that is the case.
Alyssa (10/1) is the other Ralph Becket entry and Silvestre De Sousa will ride the daughter of Sir Percy who is taking a massive leap in class. Her form figures recently of 3111 this season only add up to a maiden win followed by two handicaps at Epsom and Salisbury (the latter a Class Four event), and although she does have a distance win to her name thus avoiding the stamina questions she does look hopelessly outclassed.
When it comes to a fillies race when John Gosden has an entry then his horse has to appear on any race preview worthy of the name and in California (13/2) he as not only an entry but one in very good form. She is also a distance winner, this time at Goodwood when seeing off Tioga Pass by a length in the Group Three Lillie Langtry Stakes at the end of July. That was a step up in class for the four-year-old daughter of Azamour but she took it in her stride and could just be a late improver and cannot be missed off the short list.