Duchess of Cambridge Stakes (Sponsored by bet365) (Group 2) | 6f | 2yo fillies | ITV4/RTV
The first thing to notice when comparing the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes with its male counterpart, the July Stakes, is the relative stability of the latter. While the July Stakes winner reliably returns a Racing Post Rating around the 110 mark, winners of this race have produced a phone number.
Arabian Queen failed to reach three figures in 2014, whereas Pretty Pollyanna secured champion juvenile filly honours with her seven-length success two years ago. Last year's winner Raffle Prize also took high rank at the end of the season and that mini trend looks likely to continue. This line-up of two-year-old fillies is about as strong as could be imagined for this stage of the season.
The obvious starting point is wide-margin Albany Stakes winner Dandalla, whose form was boosted by the third easily winning a Group 3 next time. In mitigation, fourth-placed Undertake ran just creditably when third in a Listed race next time, beaten a similar margin by Time Scale as she had been at Ascot.
Time Scale lacks the fireworks Dandalla showed at Ascot, but has a couple of major advantages. She has an extra run under her belt and slightly more relevant experience. Her Listed win at Newmarket 12 days ago was not on the July course, but the Rowley Mile still gives a more readily transposed test than most.
She is also drawn better. As they were on Thursday, stalls will be on the far side and that means stall one, which houses Dandalla, is in the centre of the track.
Keith Melrose, betting editor
Burke relishing Duchess of Cambridge test for 'very good filly' Dandalla
Karl Burke is one trainer happy to see the rain that has fallen to turn the ground to the softer side of good at Newmarket, as Dandalla handled Ascot's testing ground particularly well on her way to winning the Group 3 Albany Stakes by six lengths.
Dandalla could have laid claim to having been the most impressive winner at Royal Ascot had it not been for Stradivarius in the Gold Cup the day before she demolished her rivals.
Burke said: "The performance of Time Scale on fast ground last time looked pretty good but now they've had a bit of rain, it's probably swung it more in our favour again.
"We couldn't be happier with our filly. We thought we had a very good filly on our hands before Ascot but we weren't expecting her to win like that.
"She's taken it in her stride – she's got a great temperament and is bang on the same weight as before Ascot again. She's a strong filly and much more precocious than Laurens was."
That is some compliment from the trainer, as Laurens won her two-year-old maiden this month three years ago before going on to strike in the Group 2 May Hill and end the season winning the Group 1 Fillies Mile. She then reappeared to finish second in the 1,000 Guineas the following year.
Roger Varian, whose Albany runners Setarhe and Undertake finished second and fourth to Dandalla, is taking her on again with She Do. That filly carries the colours of the Gredley family, who were successful in the race with Pretty Pollyanna.
What they say
David Loughnane, trainer of Chica Bella and Santosha
Chica Bella took a couple of runs to get her act together but was very good last time and her Leicester form looks strong as the winner [Isabella Giles] has won again since. Santosha did an awful lot wrong at Lingfield and was very green but still won impressively racing on her own down the middle of the track and has come on for that run.
Kevin Ryan, trainer of Hala Hala Hala
She identified herself early as quite smart and she’s a big, scopey filly who should keep improving. This six furlongs should be ideal for her – she galloped right out to the line when winning on her debut over six at Thirsk and took a bit of pulling up.
Ralph Beckett, trainer of Time Scale
She's bounced out of the Empress in good shape. She’s in good form at home and we’re very happy with her. She won at Chepstow on good to soft and the ground was quick at Newmarket, so she's versatile.