The Ribblesdale Stakes over 1m4f can throw up the odd surprise, with winners at 22/1, 25/1 and 10/1 in the past 15 years. Coronet scored at a healthy 9/1 in 2017, but it is a race where quality tends to come to the fore and in 2018, there is a standout candidate among the two horses taking up the bulk of the market. In a tidy field of ten fillies set to go to post for the Group 2 contest, there is a couple of dangers to the market leaders.
WILD ILLUSION – 3/1
I thought this Dubawi filly was a certainty for an average Oaks, but she the winner got first run and she could never make up the necessary ground given the way the race panned out behind Forever Together. It was another sound effort, but perhaps Epsom didn’t play to the strengths of Charlie Appleby’s inmate. On pedigree, Ascot should be more her bag. Dubawi has an 18.4% strike rate with all of his runners at the Berkshire track and with the best form in the book by quite some way, Wild Illusion really should be getting off the mark for the season here.
SUN MAIDEN – 11/4
She’s a Frankel filly in Juddmonte colours and she’s trained by Sir Michael Stoute. She also won by 12 lengths when breaking her duck last time out. So it isn’t difficult to see why Sun Maiden is right up there in the betting with Wild Illusion. The promising 3yo ran to an RPR of 101 and produced a Topspeed figure of 79 at Salisbury, which is conducive to a Listed/Black type filly in the making, but she does need to step up her game by about a stone in order to trouble or beat Wild Illusion in this Group 2 contest, on only her third career start.
MAGIC WAND – 7/2
It is somewhat fitting that Aidan O’Brien is responsible for both of the horses seen as the main threats to the head of the market, but it is just the reality of the situation. Although Magic Wand was beaten 11 lengths in the Epsom Oaks, you never can predict when an O’Brien filly is going to turn a corner, or find a spurt of improvement, particularly for a change of scenery. Magic Wand ran a little better at Chester than she did at Epsom and she is smart, but she also requires a significant step forward to trouble Wild Illusion.
ATHENA – 10/1
This Camelot filly is yet to breach the 100 mark on Racing Post Ratings and thus is worthy of her current Official Rating of just 97. But again, Aidan O’Brien doesn’t enter her sort into Group 2s for the prospect of a picnic and a fun day out at the races. Athena has a small mountain to climb, but she’s steadily been refining her game, has some good experience now and the timing of this step up to 1m4f certainly catches the eye. Now could well be the time she puts it all together and proves herself up to contesting at Group class level.
It has to be Wild Illusion for the win, particularly at this track. She has the class and ability to to stamp her authority on this field I suspect she will do just that. Athena is the interesting one of the O’Brien pair mentioned above. She’s yet to improve on the clock or the form figures, but her profile and presence here suggests there could be more to come from her.
Odds are provided at time of writing, please check your betslip to confirm they have not changed before betting.