Ihtimal can roll over Rizeena
The first Irish raiders to go into battle at Newmarket's three-day Cambridgeshire festival face a formidable task in this afternoon's Shadwell Fillies' Mile.
Avenue Gabriel, Ballybacka Queen and Wonderfully launch a three-pronged assault on the juvenile Group One, but the standard of local opposition is formidable, with Clive Brittain's exceptional Rizeena the stand-out option. Fast enough to win the Queen Mary over five furlongs at Royal Ascot, James Doyle's mount then left behind a couple of defeats to storm to a fantastic Moyglare Stud Stakes victory over seven furlongs.
She is the one they all have to beat and it's hard to make a solid case for any of the Irish trio. Wonderfully, whose trainer Aidan O'Brien provided our only recent winner of this via Listen in 2007, was already held when hampered late on in the Moyglare, though her pedigree suggests that she could improve for this slightly longer trip.
Paul Deegan's Avenue Gabriel just denied Pat Fahy's Ballybacka Queen in Listed company at the Curragh recently. Both are smart fillies on the up, though this is a serious test. Rizeena looks sure to go very close again, but the one that might represent value to thwart her is Godolphin's Ihtimal.
The daughter of Shamardal was second to the Moyglare runner-up Kiyoshi on her track bow and went on to be third to the classy colt Berkshire at Ascot. She got off the mark in style on Newmarket's July course in a seven-furlong Group Three, before seeing off facile winner Lady Lara with ease on stepping up to this trip at Doncaster.
Few of Ihtimal's rivals will be suited to this sort of test at this stage of their careers, so she is fancied to score under Silvestre de Sousa.
Tomorrow, there is no Irish runner among the 35 that line up in the Cambridgeshire, though Johnny Murtagh, Pat Smullen, Seamie Heffernan and Joseph O'Brien have all secured mounts in the showpiece handicap, with the reigning champion jockey on Hugo Palmer's co-favourite Ascription.
O'Brien's father teams up with Ryan Moore with Kingfisher in the Royal Lodge Stakes, while Chris Hayes has another decent Group One mount on La Collina in the Sun Chariot Stakes.
Last year's fourth sprung a 25/1 shock in the Matron Stakes and Kevin Prendergast's charge will be joined in tomorrow's mile event by David Wachman's Duntle. Wachman and Wayne Lordan will also be represented by the unbeaten Come To Heel in the Cheveley Park.
On yesterday's Newmarket card, Co Cork-born Liam Keniry enjoyed a high-profile success when stealing a critical lead going into the dip aboard Miracle Of Medinah in the Group Three Somerville Stakes. The Mark Usher-trained 25/1 shot capitalised on Keniry's decisive tactics to repel the Frankie Dettori-ridden favourite Cable Bay with some authority.
Meanwhile, Letterkenny native Martin Harley (23), who enjoyed a famous Classic triumph aboard Mick Channon's Samitar in last year's Irish 1,000 Guineas, is to become the first jockey to Marco Botti's up-and-coming Newmarket stable in 2014.