Sky Lantern (left) beats Just The Judge in the 1,000 GuineasPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Sky Lantern bids to confirm Guineas form
SKY LANTERN aims to prove she is Britain's leading three-year-old filly over a mile when she contests Friday's Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot, but has a wide draw and impressive Irish 1,000 Guineas winner Just The Judge to overcome.
Defeating that rival in the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket last month did not prove a problem for the Richard Hannon-trained Sky Lantern, who won by a neck.
Just The Judge, however, bounced back with a cosy success at the Curragh in the Irish equivalent and will provide a tough test. She also has a wide draw (stall 17) to defy, but heads the Coronation betting at 3-1.
Sky Lantern can be backed at 5-1 and Hannon said: "It's a shame, but the two Guineas winners are in the same boat, with Just The Judge drawn widest of all and Sky Lantern just one stall better in 16. While that makes it tough in such a big field, we have to live with it.
"Sky Lantern has done so well since Newmarket. She has put on weight and is stronger and, while Just The Judge showed in Ireland that she has improved since our Guineas, our filly has also taken another step forward."
Hannon, who also runs Maureen, added: "There is much speculation as to how these fillies will handle the bend, but Sky Lantern went around the sharp American turns okay in the Breeders' Cup, so we have no real worries on that score. Hughesie [Richard Hughes] will have to drop her out from that draw and just hope he gets the breaks."
Charlie Hills, who trains Just The Judge for Qatar Racing Limited and the Sangster family, said: "It's a shame about the draw, but you have to make the best of the situation and there is plenty of time before the turn. The track should suit, but we need a bit of luck.
"She travelled so well at Newmarket, but we would have liked something to have taken her a bit further before she had to take it up. She was backward in her coat then but she's thrived since Ireland. Hopefully the best filly will win."
Today's key pointers
In the last ten years if you had backed all horses with just one previous run within the last 30 days in the Albany Stakes, you would have found six winners from just 42 qualifiers for a profit of £13.25 to £1 level stakes. Only a handful of horses qualify on that stat, including Frankel's half-sister Joyeuse, who won a Lingfield maiden on May 28.
With so many well-bred middle-distance horses at his disposal, it comes as something of a surprise that Aidan O'Brien has won the King Edward VII Stakes only once in the past ten years, from eleven runners to have taken part. Six of his beaten horses came from the first three in the betting, including four favourites.
Six out of the last ten winners of the Coronation Stakes had finished in the first six in the 1,000 Guineas earlier that season. Sky Lantern (first), Just The Judge (second), Snow Queen (fifth) and Maureen (sixth) run today.
It generally pays to stick to the front of the market in the Coronation Stakes. Fallen for You, who won at 12-1 last year, was the first filly to oblige at a double-figure price since 1999.
Four-year-olds have won eight of the last nine runnings of the Wolferton Listed Handicap (1m2f) and backing all 62 four-year-olds blind would have earned £42.62 to £1 level stakes in this period. Horses not aged four are 1/67 in the same period (-£54.00).
Pointers courtesy of Raceform Interactive
Ascot good to firm (watered)
Market Rasen good, good to soft in places
Newmarket good to firm
Redcar good to firm, firm in places (watered)
Down Royal good to firm (watered)
Limerick good to firm, good in places