All eyes on Sandown for the Atalanta.
The Atalanta Stakes was upgraded from listed class only in 2012, but has been won by some smart fillies over the years, with One So Wonderful, the 1997 winner going on to land the Juddmonte International the following year.
Sir Michael Stoute has unsurprisingly weighed in as leading trainer, but won’t be adding to his six wins this year, as he’s not represented in the nine-strong field. The ground may be crucial, and the chances are that the going will remain on the soft side given a forecast of light showers, and that may not suit Zurigha, who was well below form on her only try with ease, and who is prone to run the occasional stinker in any case.
The Karl Burke-trained Odeliz has also done her winning on good or faster ground, but she seemed to relish underfoot conditions when second in the Park Express Stakes at the Curragh in the spring, and should run her usual solid race. She has been running respectably in pattern races since, and while there are classier fillies around, her versatility and toughness suggest that she’ll pick up a Group race before the season is out.
Zibelina certainly won’t mind any rain as she won her maiden on soft ground at Newcastle, and she settled better than is often the case when tried in a hood at Goodwood in May. The concerns with her are twofold – she’s been absent since, and the headgear which seemed beneficial to her there is now left off, and if she takes a grip as she’s been known to do, then her chance may be compromised fatally.
Lily Rules is another with questions to answer, with her second in the Musidora not the strongest form, and she flopped down in class after a mid-field run in the Oaks. She may well bounce back after a break, but the form of her yard isn’t inspiring at present, and she’s easy enough to pass over, as is Nur Jahan, who shed her maiden status on the fibresand on her return, but looks out of her depth here.
Audacia was successful in a listed race at Pontefract in July, there was an opportunistic element to that victory, and she doesn’t look any better than that level, so will do well to get involved in the finish.
Water Hole hasn’t achieved as much on paper as that filly, but has won her last three for John Gosden, and still appears to be progressing, so merits close attention.
Her latest handicap success came against just three rivals, but two of those were last-time-out winners, and the daughter of Oasis Dream made no fuss as she dominated from the off, proving her ability to act on heavy ground in the process. This is a big step up, but Gosden’s runners never disgrace themselves in such scenarios, and she may prove the biggest danger to likely favourite Fintry.
Andre Fabre has an enviable record with his runners outside of France, and it’s always noteworthy when he sends one to these shores, not that any second guessing needs to be done to pinpoint the chances of his Godolphin-owned daughter of Shamardal here.
Fintry’s only defeat came on her return at Longchamp in April, and since then she’s won twice on contrasting ground at Chantilly, bolting up in a listed contest before a comfortable win in the Group 2 Prix de Sandringham.
That was a stronger contest than this, and she was well in command in the final stages there, so is clearly going to take some stopping, even before considering that she might not have reached her peak. She holds an entry in the QEII Stakes at Ascot in October, and that might not look fanciful if she can brush aside her rivals at Sandown as expected.
The BetBright Verdict
Alternative: Water Hole
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