Ribblesdale Stakes – Inchila Too Hot To Handle?

The females strut their stuff at Royal Ascot on Ladies’ Day (Thursday) – not only in the grandstand, but also on the track courtesy of the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes over 1m4f (3.45).

Traditionally a race to attract runners from the Epsom Oaks, the Ribblesdale has again pulled together a tasty line-up, including a representative from the aforementioned Oaks, Inchila (7/2), who was fourth at Epsom.

Peter Chapple-Hyam’s filly was deemed a touch unfortunate not have finished placed at Epsom (1m4, good), having been blocked when storming through the field, before keeping on – beaten around 4l. Had Inchila not been blocked when in her stride, she may have finished second, but Jamie Spencer will look to gain compensation at Ascot.

Inchila’s main rival in the market will be the French raider, Vazira (4/1), trained by Alain De Royer-Dupre, who has been known to send over the odd winner. This daughter of Sea The Stars won her first two career outings in the spring, including a Group 3 over 1m1f (soft), before a 3l runner-up slot to We Are in a Group 1 French Oaks trial back at Longchamp (1m2f, soft). There is plenty of stamina in Vazira’s pedigree, and she may well improve for the step up 1m4f, though Ascot’s good, fast ground will be her first run away from the mud.

There is also an Italian challenge via Stano Botti’s, Final Score (8/1), who arrives unbeaten in three races. Her final win came just over three weeks ago when landing a Group 2 at Siro (1m3f, good), and is one of the few to have proven herself over Thursday’s conditions.

Past winners of the Ribblesdale haven’t necessarily been proven Group performers prior to Ascot, however, as was proven 12 months ago when Riposte won here despite winning only a Newmarket maiden the time before. One with a similar profile on Thursday is Willie Haggas’, Wonderstruck (7/1), who also won a Newmarket maiden over 1m4f (good to soft).

Although she hung right to hold on by just 3/4l on that occasion, she will know a bit more on what will her third run, and Haggas announced straight after that win that she would go straight for the Ribblesdale, so confidence in her ability must be high.

John Gosden won this race with Michita in 2008 and has another realistic chance in Bright Approach (8/1), who won her maiden over 1m2f in April, before an improved effort when third in a Listed race at Chester (1m3f, good), where ,strong>Terrific (12/1) was 6l back in fifth. Reported as coming into season that day, she powered through late into third place, and is related to a 1m5f winner.

Aidan O’Brien has yet to break his duck in the Ribblesdale in 14 attempts since 1997, and runs Bracelet (10/1) – a Group 3 winner in March (7f, soft), before flopping in the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket (1m, good to firm). Bracelet also disappointed on her debut on fast ground, and despite stamina in her breeding, the ground may be an issue.

Elsewhere, Richard Hannon’s, Lustrous (12/1) won a Listed race over 1m last month (good), but isn’t from a family that suggests the extra half-a-mile will suit, while Talmada (14/1) looks an unlikely winner having been third in a Newmarket handicap last time (1m4f, good to firm).

With five Ribblesdale winners having come via the Epsom Oaks since 1997, Inchila could add to that record having proven unlucky in her run on the Downs last time. Compensation awaits at 7/2.

Here are the full trends covering the last 18 years…

All 18 winners were ridden prominently or held up – no front-runner triumphed.
17 winners raced during the last two months.
17 won during their previous three runs.
16 were drawn away from the lowest two stalls on the troublesome inside.
16 made the top four last time; the Oaks produced five winners, while two maiden winners came from Ireland.
16 ran over 1m2f-1m4f last time.
14 had yet to win over 1m4f.
Godolphin (Saeed Bin Suroor) sent out five winners and a runner-up from just 12 runners.