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Tuesday, 16 October, 2018

Flower power: the battle of the 1,000 Guineas contenders

Rhododendron has joined Lady Aurelia at the top of the Cartier rankings for two-year-old fillies
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We take a look at how Rhododendron and Hydrangea compare to the flowers whose names they carry.

Rhododendron

The Royal Horticultural Society suggests "rhododendrons are grown for their spectacular flowers, usually borne in spring". Aidan O'Brien's Rhododendron was born a little earlier, in February 2014 to be exact, but she didn't really bloom until last autumn. That said she too flowered spectacularly, winning the Group 2 Debutante Stakes and then the Group 1 Fillies' Mile.

Rhododendrons range in colour, with pink, white and purple the most common and "need moist but well-drained, acid soil between pH 5.0 and 6.0 that is rich in organic matter". They grow best in areas of high rainfall. The equinededendron - being trained in Ireland - also lives in an area of high rainfall, is bay in colour, though she races in John Magnier's navy blue silks, and requires hay, grass and oats. 

A pot of rhododendrons will set you back roughly £12.99, whereas the homebred Rhododendron is by wondersire Galileo, so would probably cost a bit more.

Hydrangea

When it comes to hydrangeas, the RHS says they "are popular garden shrubs with delicate heads of flowers in shades of pink, white or blue and pretty autumn colour and leaf shape".

If you opened the curtains, the equine Hydrangea probably wouldn't be a particularly welcome sight in your back garden but she does have a delicate and pretty head on her..

The bad news for fans of the Coolmore second string is all advice for her flower equivalent suggests "avoiding exposed east-facing sites, where cold winds may damage young spring growth, and also avoid dry, sunny spots." Well the Rowley Mile is exposed, east-facing, prone to cold winds and the odd sunny spot, so far from ideal for seeing hydrangeas at their best.

On a more positive note Hydrangea, unlike Rhododendron, has already been out this season - winning the Group 3 1,000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown by a head.

A pot of rhododendrons will set you back roughly £12.99, whereas the homebred by wondersire Galileo would probably cost a bit more
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