THE Queen Mary Stakes (5.00pm) looks an absolute cracker on paper with 24 of the fastest fillies in the juvenile division set to line up for a crack at this £56,710 Group Two prize, run over five furlongs.
Qatar Racing have invested a huge amount of money in British racing and it was great to see them enjoy a first Classic win with Just the Judge in the 1000 Guineas at the Curragh last month. They may well be set for more Group glory with Beldale Memory if the market is correct.
Clive Cox’s charge heads the betting on the back of an impressive Listed victory at York in May, which maintained her 100 per cent record from two starts. The manner of both those triumphs has been impressive with the daughter of Camacho clearly knowing her job. She has speed to burn, seems straightforward and has a touch of class.
But I can’t say I’m particularly tempted by the 7/2 on offer. That seems a bit skinny in a race of this nature, where so many runners are unexposed and such a large field means the winner will need some luck in running.
I’m also a little concerned that Jamie Spencer might be a slightly overconfident on her and delay playing his hand until it’s a little too late. Ascot, especially over five furlongs, is not the place to underestimate rivals, especially one with the talent of RIZEENA.
This one just seems to be improving with every start and I fancy her to go very close at 7/1 with Paddy Power. Clive Brittain’s entry was slowly away and hopelessly green on her debut in a strong fillies’ maiden won by another of today’s rivals, Fire Blaze, at Newmarket.
But she stayed on eye-catchingly that day to be beaten by just two lengths. She also lowered the colours of Highclere Racing’s hope Oriel over course and distance next time out. She stepped up on that effort again when running away with a hot Listed race at Sandown, when she accounted for some well-regarded rivals with ease.
What I really like about her is that she has plenty of pace but is also very gutsy, and that latter quality will stand her in good stead today.
The Richard Hannon yard have always been convinced Oriel is the real deal, but she’s yet to win in two starts – albeit after finding trouble last time. Although Richard Hughes maintains faith, she’s getting expensive to follow. She also has to reverse form with my selection, even if she is blessed with a clear passage here.
Fire Blaze cruised to victory on her sole start that day, but she had a dream run compared to others behind her and she might struggle to confirm placings with the progressive Rizeena.
RIZEENA e/w 5.00pm Ascot (today)