Cambridge to pass the test
Channel 4 commentator Simon Holt previews the feature action on the opening day of York's Dante Meeting.
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CAMBRIDGE, a filly who has reportedly been working exceptionally well on the Lambourn gallops, can advertise her Oaks claims by taking the Tattersalls Musidora Stakes at York on Wednesday.
I was lucky enough to see this strapping daughter of Rail Link win her only start as a two-year-old at Nottingham (1m good) last October and she was most impressive, making smooth headway to lead close to the finish from the reopposing Regardez who gave the form a boost when winning next time by four lengths.
Bred for middle distances (her dam Alumni won the Cheshire Oaks on good-to-soft going), Cambridge was well on top at the finish that day and, with news of great improvement since, she should comfortably confirm the form with the runner-up over this longer trip.
Indeed, the Charlie Hills-trained filly has already been well backed for the fillies Classic at Epsom on June 6.
Regardez is also bred to be suited by this mile and a quarter given that her dam is a half sister to the Oaks winner Look Here, though other aspects of her pedigree do not necessarily point towards much further.
She looks an honest type and is also quite well forward in the Oaks market.
The Selkirk filly Queen Of Ice is another to consider following her front-running defeat of the 95-rated Midnite Angel at Kempton in April (though is not entered for the Oaks) while Kieren Fallon's mount Madame Chiang won her maiden at Yarmouth last October in good style by four lengths on similar ground conditions she will face here.
The last-named has a particularly stout pedigree and holds the classic entry.
Lady Heidi, the winner of a listed race in heavy ground at Pontefract last autumn, is the highest-rated runner and looks a sound staying prospect while this is a step up in trip for the gutsy Lily Rules, sixth in the Nell Gwyn Stakes over seven furlongs at Newmarket in April. However, it remains to be seen how much more progress they can make.
Harder to assess is the Queen's filly Shama, a front-running winner at Lingfield in April, but the John Gosden-trained maiden Eastern Belle, a beaten favourite in her last two starts, is only rated 78 so surely needs to find more to win.
The likely soft ground is bound to have an effect on the outcome of the Group Two Duke Of York Clipper Logistics Stakes in which last season's Prix de l'Abbaye winner Maarek bids to defy a penalty.
Conditions will be ideal for this mud-lover but, only fifth behind Society Rock (Hawkeyethenoo fourth, Jack Dexter sixth, Ladies Are Forever 12th) in this race last year and beaten twice already this season, it may pay to look elsewhere.
With Jack Dexter and Hawkeyethenoo having something to prove at the moment after their most recent efforts, I will opt for MOVIESTA who had excuses when well beaten in the Nunthorpe here last August but had earlier been first and second on the Knavesmire before showing improved form to win the Group Two King George Stakes at Glorious Goodwood.
Brian Smart's likeable sprinter seems effective at five or six furlongs and made an encouraging comeback behind the smart Sole Power in the Palace House Stakes at the Newmarket Guineas meeting.
Normal improvement for that effort should see Moviesta playing a leading role here.