'She's as nice a two-year-old as I've had' - key quotes for the Albany
2.30 Royal Ascot
Albany Stakes (Group 3) | 6f | 2yo fillies | Sky/ITV
With just over two months between the start of the Flat turf season and Royal Ascot, there isn't much time to get racecourse experience into two-year-olds before their big targets at the royal meeting.
As a result, there is no surprise to see eight of the 15 fillies entering this race with one run and one win to their name. Recent trends tell you that following those with extremely unexposed profiles has proved profitable, as since the inaugural running of the Albany in 2002, 11 of the 18 winners came here after a sole success.
The other seven winners had just two prior runs, so if Woodcote scorer and likely pacemaker Oscula, Hilary Needler victor Lady Ayresome or the Gay Kelleway-trained Gypsy Lady were to come out on top, they would become the most experienced winner in the race's history with three races already under their belts.
The once-raced brigade is headed by Flotus, the ride of Frankie Dettori, who surprisingly hasn't won the Albany since partnering Sander Camillo in 2006.
A daughter of Starspangledbanner, Flotus was the subject of strong market support before her debut at Goodwood and cruised through that 6f contest as if she had the speed to take a marked step up in class.
Her time was good considering the testing conditions and a downpour will only help her cause. On the flip side, her debut form hasn't been franked with the second, fourth and fifth all failing to feature on their next start.
Precocious types learn very quickly and Hello You, who was arguably the most impressive two-year-old winner leading into the royal meeting, did just that at Wolverhampton on debut. She missed the kick under Rossa Ryan but almost instantly came on the bridle and sauntered into contention, eventually clearing away like a true professional to win by six and a half lengths.
Her fast final two-furlong sectionals were a sign that she was finding her best stride close to the line (11.79sec 2f-1f, 11.75sec 1f-line) and there is no doubt she will be effective over longer trips.
She achieved a Racing Post Rating of 96, 1lb superior to Flotus, and looks the leading light of a phenomenal juvenile string for owners Amo Racing. If she can translate her all-weather form to the turf then she has cast-iron claims. Any change in underfoot conditions shouldn't inconvenience her as much as others, given her sire Invincible Spirit's progeny regularly win on contrasting goings.
Another filly making her turf debut is Sandrine, winner of an above-average novice event at Kempton on debut for trainer Andrew Balding, who wouldn't usually have his two-year-olds ready first time up. She beat a couple of smart types there, including the aforementioned Oscula, and warrants respect, especially given Balding won the Coventry earlier in the week with Berkshire Shadow.
Race analysis by Tom Collins
Buoyant Boughey looking for Ascot breakthrough
George Boughey has already sent out his first Listed winner this season and the talented young trainer is launching a three-pronged attack on the Albany Stakes in search of his first success at Royal Ascot.
It's been a breakthrough year for Newmarket-based Boughey, who saddled Mystery Angel to finish second in the Oaks this month and he has enjoyed notable success with his juveniles since the start of the season.
Oscula has already won the Woodcote Stakes at Epsom, while to her trainer's mind, no two-year-old from the stable has been more impressive than Cachet, who pulled five and a half lengths clear of her closest rival when winning on debut at Newmarket last month.
"Oscula and Cachet were two fillies coming into the week I was pretty hopeful for and then we've added Hellomydarlin to the team after she won the other day," said Boughey.
"Oscula and Cachet will both handle a bit of ease in the ground if the rain does come. Personally, I think Cachet was my most impressive maiden winner of all of them so far. She's a big, scopey filly, who will stay further than six furlongs and I think the race is tailor-made for her.
"Oscula has won on two tricky tracks at Epsom and Brighton and she's a real pro. The good ground was probably to her liking at Epsom and we made her experience count. She'll look to go forward."
Of his wild card Hellomydarlin, he added: "Mark Crehan rides her at home and wouldn't split her and Oscula, which is a pretty good guide. Nick Bradley [owner] wanted to roll the dice here and I was very happy to join him."
What they say
Adam Ryan, assistant to Kevin Ryan, trainer of Anadora and Lady Ayresome
Lady Ayresome is already proven on good to firm and soft ground so any rain isn't too much of a worry and the step up to six furlongs should suit. Anadora was giving a penalty away to the winner last time and the Albany has been the plan for a while.
Donnacha O'Brien, trainer of Elliptic
The form of her maiden win has worked out well with Quick Suzy winning on Wednesday and she will have improved for her last run. We're hoping for a big run.
Charlie Fellowes, trainer of Eve Lodge
She would love some rain, if they got nothing that would be a bit of a concern. I think the step up to six furlongs will be no problem. She's a really laid back filly and as nice a two-year-old as I've had.
Ed Crisford, joint-trainer of Flotus
She won on soft ground at Goodwood but she's a lovely moving filly and will prefer quicker ground, so hopefully it doesn't rain too much. I'm sure she will run a big race.
Emily Scott, racing manager to Amo Racing, owners of Hello You
The way she did it at Wolverhampton was very professional and hopefully there's not too much rain for her. She's got a lot of quality and hopefully she can step forward from Wolverhampton and compete at this level. She looks really exciting.
Aidan O'Brien, trainer of Prettiest
She's been in good form since she won her maiden. We thought she would come on from the run and it will be interesting to see how she gets on here.
Thady Gosden, joint-trainer of Sunstrike
We've had this race in mind since January for her as she's always been well forward. She has a chance in what looks a very hot Albany.
Reporting by Lewis Porteous
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