Ihtimal to turn on the style
Simon Holt previews Friday's card at Newmarket and fancies Ihtimal to upstage Rizeena in the Fillies' Mile.
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Style or substance is the dilemma when trying to find the winner of Friday's Shadwell Fillies' Mile at Newmarket where Rizeena is the clear form choice up against the progressive and exciting IHTIMAL.
Rizeena, who should have no trouble with this step up to a mile for the first time, boasts an exemplary record in a six-race career and gained her fourth success in the prestigious Moyglare Stud Stakes at The Curragh last time.
Clive Brittain's filly appeared to hit a flat spot soon after half-way that day but then came forging through under James Doyle to win going away from the errant Kiyoshi and Aidan O'Brien-trained Tapestry (Wonderfully only sixth) over that stiff seven furlongs. On a line through Tapestry, the Irish raiders Avenue Gabrial and Ballybacka Queen (first and second in a Listed event recently) appear safely held.
That effort is much the best form on offer here and Rizeena's previous defeats when second to Lucky Kristale at the July meeting and third in the Prix Morny behind No Nay Never and Vorda also look high class efforts.
However, while taking a step up in grade, Ihtimal has been hugely impressive in her last two starts, slamming Midnite Angel on the July course here before sprinting clear of Majeyda in the May Hill Stakes at this mile trip at Doncaster.
Had there been another half-furlong on Town Moor, it is no exaggeration to say that the Godolphin filly would have won by six lengths and her proven stamina and push-button turn of foot could prove troublesome for Rizeena.
Meanwhile, Godolphin have a smart second-string in Sound Reflection, the winner of two minor events so far, but held in very high regard by trainer Charlie Appleby.
Earlier on, RADIATOR can warm us up for the day ahead by taking the opening Aqlaam Oh So Sharp Stakes.
This regally-bred daughter of Dubawi (out of a Grade One-winning half sister to Banks Hill, Intercontinental, Cacique and Champs Elysee) confirmed the promise of her debut fifth behind the smart Amazing Maria at Goodwood when trouncing her rivals to the tune of 15 lengths at Lingfield earlier in the month.
Zawiyah, the runner-up, was far-from-disgraced next time on this course when finishing fourth to Wedding Ring in a valuable auction race; by my calculations, she ran to a rating of about 85 there and, if anywhere near that mark at Lingfield, then Radiator would be well clear of her rivals here.
The obvious danger is the unbeaten Lightning Thunder though she had to fight hard to beat Justice Day in receipt of 7lb at Doncaster last time and, if my maths is correct, has a bit to find with the selection.
In the Nayef Joel Stakes, SOFT FALLING RAIN looks the one to beat given a bit of improvement for his battling second to Gregorian in the Hungerford Stakes at Newbury in mid-August which followed a near-five month absence.
Mike de Kock's handsome colt lost his unbeaten record there having looked very smart indeed in Dubai during the first quarter of 2013 and he should be able to confirm that potential against solid but exposed older horses Boom And Bust and Premio Loco as well as smart three-year-old Montiridge who needs to recover from a below-par effort in possibly unsuitable ground at Haydock last time.