Racing expert Alan Thomson has cast his eye over the field for Friday’s Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot, live on Sky Sports Racing (4.20), featuring a host of international stars.
This year’s Group One Coronation Stakes, a one-mile fillies’ contest on the round course, has attracted another cosmopolitan array of equine supermodels.
Jessica Harrington has carried the prize back to Ireland twice in the last four years courtesy of her brilliant duo Alpha Centuri and Alpine Star, and the trainer is represented this year by their Moyglare Stud-winning sibling Discoveries.
The quick ground, however, has sadly ruled out an appearance by Dermot Weld’s Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas heroine Homeless Songs.
Nevertheless, there remains plenty of international interest with runners assembling from Britain, France, Ireland and the United States.
The home team hit the back of the net last year when Andrew Balding sent out Alcohol Free, and market leader Inspiral defends her unbeaten record for the John Gosden operation this time around.
Jockey: James Doyle; Trainer: George Boughey
George Boughey’s stable star has a couple of lengths to make up on Inspiral on their Newmarket running but her 1,000 Guineas victory over Prosperous Voyage and Tuesday must give Cachet’s Highclere owners solid grounds for optimism. With 11 runs under her belt, including a trip across the Atlantic for a Breeders’ Cup fourth at Del Mar, she can draw on a fund of experience.
Shane Foley; Jessica Harrington
Discoveries is a full-sister to the brilliant Alpha Centurai and a half-sister to Alpine Star, so it’s in the genes. She made little impact (seventh) when tested in the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket but may well have needed that outing. It’s worth recalling Discoveries had Homeless Songs a well-beaten fifth when landing the Group One Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh last September. She could be a bit overpriced in this.
Jamie Spencer; John & Thady Gosden
An Ascot winner on debut and just touched off by Fonteyn in a Listed contest at York’s Dante fixture. Very much the Gosden second string, but open to improvement and an interesting one at a bigger price.
Colin Keane; Henry de Bromhead
There was plenty to like about her third to History and Agartha in a Group Three at Leopardstown in early May and although still a maiden after four starts, she can give a decent account at huge odds.
Frankie Dettori; John & Thady Gosden
The Cheveley Park Stud’s daughter of Frankel has been handled brilliantly, winning all four starts as a juvenile. She twice defeated the re-opposing Prosperous Voyage, first in the May Hill Stakes at Doncaster’s St Leger fixture and later in the bet365 Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket, and although the lack of an outing this season may be viewed as a negative, those misgivings haven’t been reflected in the betting.
Gerald Mosse; Mikel Delzangles
Pipped Cachet in the French 1,000 Guineas at ParisLongchamp but it was a messy affair, with two lengths covering the first eight home. Beaten only once in five starts, Mangoustine would probably welcome a little ease underfoot. Gallic raiders have scooped the pot three times in the past seven years through the Jean-Claude Rouget-trained pair Ervedya and Qemah, plus Watch Me for the Francis-Henri Graffard operation, so the omens are positive.
Jose Ortiz; Christophe Clement
Owned by American celebrity chef Bobby Flay, Pizza Bianca has been stabled with Luca Cumani since touching down on British soil. She had Cachet back in fourth when scoring at the Breeders’ Cup in November and proved she had trained on as a three-year-old by winning at Pimlico last month. The mount of top US jockey Jose Ortiz.
Rob Hornby; Ralph Beckett
Clearly has a bit to find with Inspiral, but not an awful lot, and her close second to Cachet at Newmarket entitles Ralph Beckett’s filly to respect. A strong end-to-end gallop would bring her stamina into play, although the fact that Prosperous Voyage has recorded only a single victory, when scrambling home at Epsom, suggests she could be playing for a place in this exalted company.
Rolling The Dice
Marco Ghiani; Hilal Kobeissi
A Newbury maiden winner last July, Rolling The Dice shaped okay in seventh behind Bashkirova in the Princess Elizabeth Stakes at Epsom, but looks out of her depth here.
David Probert; Andrew Balding
Won her first three starts, all under regular rider David Probert, and her third to Tenebrism at Newmarket can probably be marked up as she was isolated emerging from stall 2, with high numbers dominating up the stands’ rail. Sandrine couldn’t go the early pace in the 1,000 Guineas before staying on into fifth, so she is no forlorn hope here.
William Buick; Graham Motion
Another stars and stripes raider and she remains unbeaten after posting victories at Gulfstream (twice) and Keeneland. Trained by Englishman Graham Motion, Spendarella is bidding to go one better than the trainer’s Sharing, runner-up to Alpine Star in 2020.
Ryan Moore; Aidan O’Brien
It’s unusual to find an Aidan O’Brien runner so far down the bookmakers’ pecking order but she was similarly unfancied (14/1) when winning last September’s Group One Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket. Ryan Moore’s mount was sent off favourite for the 1,000 Guineas but faded into eighth. She could have come to hand in the interim.
Alan Thomson’s big-race verdict…
Inspiral brings an unblemished record into this enthralling encounter, but she faces a baptism of fire on her seasonal bow. With several firms offering four places each-way, it may be prudent to forgive DISCOVERIES her slightly disappointing return to action in the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket. Jessica Harrington has a brilliant recent pedigree in this event and although stall 10 isn’t ideal, the Moyglare Stud winner has fancied pair Cachet and Prosperous Voyage berthed on either side.