Horse Racing
O’Brien’s placed Irish Guineas filly out to upset English and French Guineas’ winners

20/06/2024 17:14

The Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot is where the protagonists of the English, Irish and French 1000 Guineas inevitably convene to re-establish the pecking order of European three-year-old fillies. And Friday (21 June) sees a typically intriguing clash in this 1594m Group 1 contest.

A thrilling finish to Newmarket’s G1 1000 Guineas (1600m) saw 28/1 outsider Elmalka grab glory in the last strides with only one length dividing the first five finishers. A week later at Longchamp, an equally exciting climax saw Rouhiya shoot between rivals with split-second timing to win the G1 French 1000 Guineas (Poule d’Essai des Pouliches, 1600m), also an outsider at 31/1.

This pair – the mounts of Silvestre de Sousa and Maxime Guyon, respectively – will meet along with top fillies such as Porta Fortuna (Tom Marquand) and Ramatuelle (Oisin Murphy), who were both so near to winning that Newmarket Classic.

Elmalka’s trainer Roger Varian, who already boasts a 2024 Royal Ascot Group 1 victory after Charyn’s stylish win in Tuesday’s G1 Queen Anne Stakes (1600m), says: “She is not a flashy worker but she has done well physically since the Guineas.” 

De Sousa adds: “Elmalka got unbalanced at Newmarket – showing her inexperience – she also showed toughness to win. She switches off and is an easy ride. That will help at Ascot as will a fast gallop.”

Although the G1 Irish 1000 Guineas (1600m) winner Fallen Angel is sidelined through injury, Opera Singer (Ryan Moore), third in that 1600m clash at The Curragh must be given serious chances. More so given the comments of trainer Aidan O’Brien concerning the runaway winner of last October’s G1 Prix Marcel Boussac (1600m) at Longchamp, a triumph that earned her the title of 2023 European champion two-year-old filly.

“We had a hold up earlier in the year and we felt we had to run her at the Curragh if she was going to make it to Ascot. We didn’t expect her to run as well as she did as we thought she hadn’t done nearly enough work. It says a lot about her class that she ran that well,” said the 12-times Royal Ascot champion trainer.

Horses that drop back in trip after competing in 1600m Classics can have a class edge in sprints and that could apply to Inisherin who has been supplemented into the Commonwealth Cup (1200m), the other Group 1 on Friday.

He led until outstayed over the last 400m in last month’s 2000 Guineas (1600m) at Newmarket, then thrived when being dropped back to 1200m with a persuasive Group 2 win at Haydock. Moreover, trainer Kevin Ryan is currently in great form with a Royal Ascot victory by Ain’t Nobody in the Listed Windsor Castle Stakes (1000m) on Wednesday (19 June).

Dangers in this sprinting test for high-class three-year-olds include Jasour. Failing to settle wrecked his two attempts in Group 1 company last season but he impressively won the Group 3 trial for this here last month and remains unbeaten when Friday’s jockey Jim Crowley is in the saddle.