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The Ribblesdale Stakes preview

Time for me to step up to the plate today at Royal Ascot, no other brave souls have stepped up (one big negative about consecutive days of racing, when do you get the time to bet, enjoy the racing and then research the following day?). My choice for the day is the fillies' race, it's an Oaks by another name, run at a track not originally designed for goats.

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The Ribblesdale
£160k, 1m4f
Group 2 for 3yo fillies
1540 local, 0040 AEST


Brandybend - nice Galileo filly for Marco Botti but 25lbs behind the favourite on official ratings. Several lengths behind Pamona last time at Newbury, perhaps unsuited by leading on that day but previous form only in maidens. No.

Curvy - impressive formline, beating the colts last time at The Curragh, including Coolmore first pick for the Derby, Giovanni Canaletto. Ryan Moore jumps on board (beaten by her last time so must have been impressed) and rides for David Wachman rather than the usual O'Brien runners within the same ownership. Her half-sister won this a decade ago. Maiden as a 2yo, has won all three this season. Big chance.

Entertainment - handy filly, weighed in light at Newbury last time when beaten several lengths. Keeps seeing the backside of Pamona, several lengths behind her each time, no reason to expect any change here.

Forte - struggles to settle, has to be a doubt on staying the trip on that quirk but is a sister to recent Oaks winner Talent. Long way short of what is required here.

Gretchen - 'Well f£$% me if I'm wrong, but isn't your name Gretchen?' is a well-used pickup line, but the thoroughbred version has a far more likely chance of success. Impeccably bred Galileo filly (he's sired half the field here), a half-sister to Irish St Leger winner Duncan. Strong win on debut, trained by a genius in John Gosden. Lacks race experience but not much else.

Pamona - Cumani-trained filly who bypassed the Oaks for this. Unlucky last time at Newbury, not seeing daylight when it mattered behind Crystal Zvezda who later disappointed in the Epsom classic. Still open to improvement and in the right hands.

Pandora - another Galileo filly who will relish the step up in trip. Unraced at two, she won on debut then was thrown in the deep end at York, being outpaced by future Prix de Diane winner Star of Seville in a small field with variable pace. Further improvement would put her right in this and a genuine pace would suit her better. Trainer already has a winner with a 3yo this week.

Pleascach - Irish 1000 Guineas winner who stands out as a clear favourite here. Purchased by Godolphin since that victory, that was a step back in trip after two runs this season at 10f, winning the latter one by a comfortable 8.5 lengths. By Teofilo, not the obvious staying blood of Galileo or Halling, but can't really mark her down on that given the ease of victory at Naas.

Wedding Vow - still a maiden after four starts, beaten as odds-on favourite in the Lingfield Oaks trial, but was runner-up to Legatissimo in her run preceding her 1000 Guineas win. Blue-blood who needs some black type to add to her pedigree page, Ryan Moore has looked elsewhere, so should we.

Zamoura - ran third in the Cheshire Oaks, well beaten and there's only so much switching to a bigger track can do. She was behind Entertainment who is making up numbers here too. This won't be the next Royal Ascot winner for Frankie.

VERDICT

Pleascach sets the obvious standard but I'm in no rush to back her at close to evens with so many of her rivals in form and with considerable scope to improve further. Any time a filly beats the colts, I like to take notice. Ryan Moore is unstoppable at the moment, riding five winners from 12 races so far, taking 7/1 each-way on Curvy seems a no-brainer to me (make sure you get 1/4 1-3, terms not offered by all firms). Improvement to come from Gretchen as well.

Selections
Curvy
Gretchen
Pleascach
Pandora


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