You can call me Dal
Ian Brindle provides a horse-by-horse guide to the QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes at Ascot.
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BELLE DE CRECY: Surprise winner of the Blandford Stakes at the Curragh last month (beat Hot Snap giving 7lb away) and makes her first appearance in a Group One having initially campaigned in handicaps earlier in the season. Untested on a surface as soft as this and market will probably give us the best clue as to what to anticipate.
DALKALA: Already a Group One winner this season, with a stout display in the Prix L'Opera at Longchamp a fortnight ago and no stranger to winning races in Britain having taken the Middleton Stakes at York (second has gone on to win Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh since). Step up in trip should not inconvenience as she's already a winner over 1m5f but her trainer does need to arrest a long losing run with his runners at Ascot.
IGUGU: A four time Grade One winner in her native South Africa, and while it's some time since she won a race, she posted a fair European debut in the Rosemary Stakes at Newmarket. Entitled to have come on for the run after a five month layoff and clearly handles soft going . Trip an imponderable and others preferred.
NYMPHEA: Stable have become more amenable to the idea of taking aim at the British Pattern races and the daughter of Dylan Thomas won a Group One in Germany at Hoppergarten in July. Sent off a hot favourite for Bosphorus Cup in Turkey last month and could only manage third behind Lost In The Moment. On a strict line of form - that wouldn't be good enough to win here and hopes realistically rely upon other's failing to handle the surface.
SEAL OF APPROVAL: Had been the subject of plenty of market confidence ahead of the Park Hill Stakes at Doncaster though took a heavy fell when clipping heels mid-race. Still lightly raced and fascinating that James Fanshawe has decided to take this engagement though no surprise that he's done so given that his runners seem in fair nick at present.
HOT SNAP: Ninth in the 1000 Guineas having won the Nell Gwyn Stakes earlier in the campaign. Suggested she might be worth a try at this distance when third in the Nassau Stakes though questions to answer after a disappointing peformance at the Curragh next time. Sire a distinct soft ground influence and James Doyle takes mount for first time.
TALENT: Plenty of doubters may have crabbed her victory in the Oaks, particularly as she was well beaten in the Irish equivalent though Ralph Beckett's filly caught the eye with a gutsy second in the St Leger. Trainer particularly bullish this week about the likelihood of her handling Ascot, and her half-brother, Skilful, is a winner with plenty of give underfoot.
THE LARK: Non-runner.
WAILA: A ten length winner of the Aphrodite Stakes at Newmarket in July but has not been sighted on the racecourse since as she was struck in behind. Races without the headgear she sported on that occasion and it really wouldn't be the greatest of surprises for a Stoute three-year-old to have found plenty of form during a spell away from the racecourse.
VERDICT: Talent attempts to tread in the hoof prints of Dancing Rain by doubling up from the Oaks and she certainly put herself in the reckoning for a second Group One prize with her creditable effort at Doncaster but she might just find DALKALA too strong. Connections probably would have wished to have seen more rain, but her Middleton Stakes form is some of the best European form of the season and if her Prix L'Opera victory hasn't taken too much of an edge off her, she looks very much the one to beat.