Royal Ascot: Coronation Stakes Preview & Tips

Olly StevensThe Coronation Stakes brings together a fascinating collection of three-year-old fillies hoping to gain the lion’s share of the £375,000 prize fund on offer (4.25pm Friday). Fillies can be unpredictable creatures but this Group 1 contest has usually been a profitable one for punters.

There has only been one winner with a starting price in double figures since 2001. She was John Gosden’s 12/1 shot, Fallen For You, who prevailed in 2012 when the going was uncharacteristically soft. A sounder surface can be expected so it could pay not to be greedy in searching for the winner here.

My Titania is the 7/2 favourite in the Coronation Stakes betting, partly due to the reputation of her extremely shrewd trainer, John Oxx. He does not come over the Irish Sea for no reason and handled this filly’s all-conquering sire, Sea The Stars, masterfully. He also trained her dam, Fairy Of The Night, who won a maiden and a listed race as a two-year-old but failed to make the frame in her four starts in the following year.

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This will be My Titania’s seasonal debut. Her current price suggests that she looks to have trained on more successfully than her dam. She showed promise last season, finishing second first time out and winning her maiden next time. In her third and final run she won the Group 3 Park Stakes at the Curragh by half a length beating Johnny Murtagh’s Chicago Girl. Whilst Chicago Girl looks distinctly ordinary so far Dermot Weld’s Oaks runner up, Tarfasha was six lengths behind her in third. Both her wins were over seven furlongs.

The 4/1 second favourite, Lightning Thunder has a very different profile as does her trainer, Olly Stevens (pictured), who has only been in business for two years. This filly was runner-up beaten a neck by Miss France in the 1,000 Guineas on her seasonal debut. She subsequently started as the 100/30 favourite in the Irish 1,000 Guineas and was second best once again beaten three lengths by Aidan O’Brien’s Marvellous on unsuitably soft ground.

Before the race Stevens said that he would only run her if the ground was good to soft, mentioning that he would rather leave her in the stable and have her fresh for this race. Her chances might well have been enhanced here if he had stuck with Plan A, especially as testing going generally demands a longer recovery period. This will be her third run in just over six weeks.

To her credit this daughter of Dutch Art must be pretty tough as she won two races and was runner-up to Miss France beaten a head in a similar timescale as a two-year-old. It was only on her fourth run that she was understandably a disappointing favourite, finishing fourth in the Group 2 Rockfel Stakes at Newmarket in October. If she has recovered from her experience in the mud in Ireland she has obvious claims.

French raiders have done well in this race, winning it twice since 2001. This year Jean-Claude Rouget’s Lesstalk In Paris (12/1) is the sole Gallic challenger, aiming to emulate Robert Collet’s Immortal Verse who won in 2011 and Andre Fabre’s Banks Hill who succeeded ten years earlier.

This daughter of Cape Cross won on her debut as a two-year-old and went on to take a Group 3 at Chantilly impressively, overcoming severe traffic problems to beat Andre Fabre Straight Thinking by three quarters of a length. Only on her third and final start last year did she find one too good in the Group 1 Criterium Des Pouliches at Longchamp. She started as the 3/1 favourite but was beaten by almost a length by Christophe Ferland’s Indonesienne having used up too much fuel in the early stages of the race. All the other placed horses had been held up whilst she had been at the front of affairs throughout under Ioritz Mendizabal.

This season she proved that she can perform on good ground, taking a Group 3 at Longchamp in April. She not only beat Straight Thinking but had the favourite, Indonesienne over a length behind her in third. Christophe Soumillon was chosen to partner her. She once again made all but Soumillon sensibly set a steady pace. In her only other run this year in the Group 1 Poule D’Essai Des Pouliches in May she was very disappointing. Mendizabal tried to hold her up in the midfield but she took a very strong hold and did not get home, finishing over nine lengths behind the winner. She is clearly very talented but the tactics will have to be carefully thought out. Soumillon partners her here.

Another filly who has appeared to ruin her chances by pulling is the 20/1 outsider, George Margarson’s Lucky Kristale.  She scored in two Group 2s over six furlongs last season, having been held up. She started at 20/1 when she beat Clive Brittain’s Rizeena by over two lengths to take the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes at Newmarket in July. This year we have only seen her finish tailed off by some 30 lengths in the 1,000 Guineas. She pulled hard, got bumped and had a nightmare of a race under Tom Queally.

It should help her chances that this is a significantly smaller field. Richard Hughes, the hold-up specialist, partners her for the first time. If we can forgive her last run she is a generous price for a filly rated 108, just 3lb lower than the highest rated here. She is an interesting each-way prospect.

Aidan O’Brien’s Tapestry (16/1) was the only horse behind Lucky Kristale in the Guineas. She chased the leaders but found nothing two furlongs from home and was eased. Unlike Margarson, O’Brien has form in this race, winning it most recently in 2010 with Lillie Langtry. O’Brien has admitted that many of his horses were ill in the spring, accounting for his patchy recent form.

Tapestry won her maiden, a Group 2 and was beaten less than a length by Rizeena and Kiyoshi (who was subsequently demoted) in the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh last year. Her jockey Joseph O’Brien was 1lb overweight and encountered problems in running. If his father has this daughter of Galileo back to her best, she is in with a better chance than her current price would suggest. She shares the top rating of 111 with Charles Hills’ Kiyoshi, Lightning Thunder and Rizeena.

Rizeena (7/1) has attracted more support even though she was disappointing in her only run this season. She finished four and a half lengths behind Miss France in the Guineas in seventh. This daughter of Iffraaj appeared to be outpaced when it mattered.

She had a busy campaign last season, running eight times. After her Moylglare win she went on to finish second by a length to Charles Hills’ ill-fated Chriselliam in the Group 1 Fillies’ Mile in September. Her rating has dropped 4lb since. Did she do too much too young? This race will give us a better idea but it is difficult to support her with confidence.

We have not seen Kiyoshi (12/1) since she finished two lengths third to Philippe Sogorb’s Vorda in the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes in September. She reared in the stalls and wasted energy making up lost ground. In her previous run in the Moyglare she veered right for pressure resulting in her demotion. She also hung right when taking the Group 3 Albany Stakes at this meeting last year, beating Richard Fahey’s Sandiva by over three lengths. Her antics make her difficult to support with any confidence.

Coronation Stakes Preview and Tips Conclusion

This race is an intriguing puzzle with very little to choose between the majority of the field if the handicapper’s ratings are any indicator. Lucky Kristale is a tempting each-way prospect at 20/1 as she relishes a sound surface but LIGHTNING THUNDER is surely due a win and has to be our pick, best priced at 4/1 with BetVictor, William Hill and Skybet.

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