The fillies' counterpart of the 2000 Guineas, the Qipco 1000 Guineas, is down for decision at 3:15 p.m. BST on the afternoon of Sunday, May 6th, just over 24 hours after the colts' equivalent.
It has a worthy 6 to 4 favourite in the unbeaten Maybe (Galileo – Sumora, by Danehill), like Camelot an inmate of Aidan O'Brien's Ballydoyle Stables in Cashel, County Tipperary. That is the same yard from which Virginia Waters emerged to upset 19 rivals back in the 2005 version of this race, thereby giving O'Brien his only previous win in this event. Maybe has proved most progressive, reeling off a sequence of five consecutive wins at increasing levels of difficulty by taking a maiden, followed by a Listed event, a Group 3, a Group 2 and finally the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh in Ireland.
Although untried at a mile, Maybe – as a daughter of Galileo – ought to find the trip right up her street. Also, she has the experience of travelling to England and of racing there on soft ground, which should serve her well in her present assignment. The trainer's son, young Joseph, has ridden her on the last three occasions on which she has faced the starter and will continue to guide her destiny. Unless circumstances conspire to thwart her, she ought to win.
Despite Maybe's sterling record, the connections of as many as 17 other fillies are still prepared to take her on in this latest renewal.
These include a pair of closely connected fillies, which are amongst the few quoted at single digit odds – Discourse (ex Divine Dixie, by Dixieland Band) and Lyric Of Light (ex Suez, by Green Desert). The Godolphin duo hail from Mahmood Al Zarooni's stable, are both undefeated Darley-bred daughters of Street Cry, and have both won twice at Newmarket, including at Group level. Unfortunately retained rider Frankie Dettori – who steered Blue Bunting with panache in the same colours last year – cannot ride both! He took his time deciding and has finally chosen Lyric Of Light, a selection that sees her offered at 7 to 1, with Discourse easing slightly to 9 to 1. The last-named will have Mikael Barzalona, literally a rising star in the stirrups, to direct her bid.
In the past five years, cross-Channel stables have scored twice in this race. Aiming to add to that list is Jean-Claude Rouget from Pau, in the south of France, who fields the 7 to 1 chance, Mashoora (Barathea – Spinning Blossom, by Spinning World), winner of 2 of her 4 starts, and runner-up in the others. She made a triumphant seasonal reappearance in the usually reliable classic trial, the Group 3 Prix Imprudence at Maisons-Laffitte on April 5th. Belgian ace Christophe Soumillon will continue his association with Sheikh Hamdan's 280,000 guineas yearling purchase and she has the credentials to go close.
At the other end of the market, Moonstone Magic (Trade Fair – Woodcock Moon, by Kyllachy), bought back by her breeder for a mere £5,000, finds herself supplemented into the race, a reward for her having won both her starts this season, most recently the Fred Darling Stakes at Newbury on April 21st. Ralph Beckett's ward, who was unraced at 2, is not exactly bred to stay though she should get the mile – if she is good enough. Her usual pilot, Jim Crowley, will be at the controls on the 7 to 1 choice. A third start in just over three weeks amounts to asking a lot of a filly, and only time will tell if she is up to the challenge.
Darley's Iffraaj is a most reliable sire of speedier types up to a mile and his daughter, Dialla (ex Quaich, by Dabehill) showed promise when runner-up to Lyric Of Light at her debut last August. She then shed her maiden status in October, scoring with ease by 4 lengths over 7 furlongs. That by itself would not entitle her to be considered to be of classic standard but the fact that trainer William Haggas has elected to start off her season here suggests he feels she has improved significantly. The market assesses the chances of the mount of Eddie Ahern to be worth a 16 to 1 quote.
The performance of Power in the Qipco 2000 Guineas on Saturday would provide an indicator to the likelihood that 20 to 1 La Collina (Strategic Prince – Starfish, by Galileo) can prevail on Sunday. The latter, schooled in Ireland by Kevin Prendergast, had beaten Power in the Gr.1 Phoenix Stakes last year before slightly blotting her copybook by running third to Maybe, and on previous form there was not much to choose between the two fillies who finished necks apart in the Gr.3 Silver Flash Stakes in 2011. Declan McDonogh will continue his association with Joerg Vasicek's filly.
One must not forget the likes of Lightening Pearl (Marju – Jioconda, by Rossini), heroine of the Gr.1 Jaguar Cars Cheveley Park Stakes on this course last September. At the time of writing, she was still set to make the trip from Ireland but trainer Ger Lyons has warned that if the ground proves too soft, after he has personally inspected it, she will not run. Perhaps this uncertainty contributes to the 25 to 1 quote, which seems too generous for a proven performer that has shown winning form on this very track at this same level – and will have the irrepressible Johnny Murtagh in the saddle if she takes part.
From the ranks of the lightly-raced brigade any of the unheralded runners could pop up with a better-than-expected performance on Sunday, but one relatively exposed runner who could belie her 66 to 1 price is Sunday Times (Holy Roman Emperor – Forever Times, by So Factual). Beaten just half a length by Lightening Pearl in the Cheveley Park Stakes, she had a valid excuse on her subsequent two starts. With the benefit of a lung-opener she might yet figure in the proceedings.