Rizeena (yellow silks): won the 5f Queen Mary at Royal AscotPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Clive Brittain hopeful Rizeena can see out mile
FIVE months and seven races after her first racecourse appearance, Rizeena bids to put the finishing touches to an exemplary juvenile season in the Group 1 Shadwell Fillies' Mile at Newmarket.
With connections eagerly eyeing a run in next year's Qipco 1,000 Guineas - for which she is a best-priced 10-1 shot - Rizeena steps up to a mile for the first time as her trainer Clive Brittain seeks to establish whether she can handle the extended trip, describing the race as "a sort of Guineas prep".
Having demonstrated she has speed to burn with wins over five furlongs at Sandown and Ascot early in the season, Rizeena has since won the Group 1 Moyglare over seven at the Curragh, leading Brittain to believe she will handle today's mile.
"The way she works and the way she won in Ireland suggests an extra furlong won't be a hindrance to her at all," he said.
Not only is Brittain optimistic about the prospect of his star filly seeing out the Rowley Mile, he also reports the two-year-old in prime shape, despite a demanding juvenile season.
"She's done remarkably well since her last race," he said. "She's put weight on with her training and looks very strong. The work we've given her since the Moyglare has all been done very successfully and easily. She's put on 24 kilos since we started training her for her first race at Newmarket [in April]."
Brittain took the 2009 Fillies' Mile with Hibaayeb b ut since then the race has been the sole preserve of Godolphin, who bid for a fourth consecutive victory. Their impressive May Hill Stakes winner Ihtimal, a 16-1 chance for the Guineas, leads the Rizeena resistance.
Trainer Saeed Bin Suroor said: "Ihtimal won nicely at Doncaster and came out of that Group 2 sound and healthy. She's taking another step up in class but is in good form."
Ihtimal and Rizeena are expected to dominate the market, but Godolphin's other runner Sound Reflection is held in high esteem by trainer Charlie Appleby and could prove dangerous despite her inexperience.
"We don't think we're quite sharp enough to be winning but we're confident she'll run a nice race and we'll be delighted if we're in the first three," Appleby said. "She's one we've always had earmarked as a three-year-old."
Although the initial forecast was for rain on Friday, it is now expected to be overcast and largely dry. William Buick, who won Thursday's Rose Bowl Stakes on Caucus, described conditions as "just on the fast side of good", and clerk of the course Michael Prosser added: "The ground is good, good to firm in places and we have received favourable feedback from the jockeys today.
"The forecast for tomorrow is similar and it looks like the showers forecast for Saturday are to stay south of us so we could be dry for the whole meeting."