Just The Judge can defy nightmare draw and be crowned Ascot queen


NOT since comprehensive records began back in 1946 has a bigger field of fillies lined up for the Coronation Stakes (3.45pm), the feature race on the penultimate day of the Royal meeting.

A whopping 17 fillies will go to post for the Group One contest, which is two more than the previous largest field of 15 back in 1949.

Now, the fact that the race is run on the round course rather than the straight course here at Ascot means that the draw is all the more important. Being drawn wide makes the task of getting a decent position tougher and this could be an extremely rough race.

Incredibly, the two best fillies in the race have randomly drawn the two worst berths. Last month’s QIPCO 1000 Guineas winner Sky Lantern is in stall 16, while JUST THE JUDGE, runner-up at Newmarket and winner of the Irish equivalent since, breaks from 17.

My preference is to side with Charlie Hills’ improving filly as I think she has enough early tactical speed to break and grab a relatively handy spot. It’s strange to think that the first 200 yards of the race may well decide the outcome.

Sky Lantern will relish the fast conditions, should the forecast rain not arrive, but she’s going to need a hell of a lot of luck in-running as she bids to thread a passage through late on.

A bigger threat may come from Irish raider Big Break who ran well on her seasonal reappearance in the Irish 1000 Guineas. She seemed to get tired that day and can step up on that effort, particularly from stall one. I certainly wouldn’t put you off backing her at 13/2 each-way as a saver.

However, Just The Judge is available at 7/2 with Coral, and that looks more than fair for a Classic winning filly who never seems to run a bad race.

Big fields seem the flavour of the day and 29 runners are set to face the starter for the Buckingham Palace Stakes (5.35pm). The challenge is finding a progressive type currently masquerading as a handicapper who may well end the season running in Group races.

The two that immediately leap off the page are the Sir Michael Stoute-trained ENROL and the equally progressive Emilio Largo.

Enrol went into many notebooks last time when flying late on at the death over six furlongs at Newmarket. The four-year-old is still relatively lightly raced and the subsequent 3lb rise from the handicapper seems lenient.

She has been drawn in stall one which seems the place to be at the time of writing, although you can never be 100 per cent sure in cavalry charges of this nature.

Largo has fewer secrets from a handicapping perspective as he has 12 career starts under his belt already. That said, he was having his first run for his new trainer James Fanshawe at this track last time and will relish the step back up to seven furlongs.

■ Pointers…
JUST THE JUDGE 3.45pm Ascot
ENROL 5.35pm Ascot