Europe's best fillies fight for overall supremacy in today's feature race at Royal Ascot as the winners of the English, Irish and French Guineas go head-to-head in the Group One Coronation Stakes. Of most interest to UAE race fans will be the performance of Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid's Ghanaati who triumphed in the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket in just her third ever start and first on turf.
Trained by the excellent Barry Hills and ridden by his son, Richard, the filly is favourite for the win, but many are relishing the chance of seeing the daughter of Giant's Causeway renew her rivalry with Rainbow View, the beaten favourite for the Newmarket Classic at the start of May. Ghanaati has not had a run since that victory. On the other hand, Rainbow View, whose unbeaten record in 2008 was blemished by her flat-looking fifth at Newmarket, was given the chance to prove her stamina in the Investec Oaks at Epsom a month later.
The trainer John Gosden and jockey Jimmy Fortune, attributed her uninspired Guineas performance on firm going but her Oaks outing over the longer distance of 1m 4f did little to clear up the debate surrounding the filly as her progress through the race was blocked by other runners. Lining up alongside Rainbow View is Again who must be a special horse to her trainer David Wachman. Coming back from a disappointing eighth in a Group One fillies race at Longchamp in her last two-year-old outing, she triumphed in the Irish Guineas at the Curragh; a first Classics win for Wachman.
A tough draw in France may have explained that performance and she did enough in Ireland, with an inspired ride from Johnny Murtagh, to stand out as the best in the race. With champion jockey Ryan Moore taking the ride today, Again is in equally capable hands and her position as third favourite confirms how highly she is regarded. Elusive Wave completes the trio of Guineas winners, representing the French raiders at Royal Ascot who have already had a successful campaign.
Any Classics contender trained by Jean-Claude Rouget has got to be taken seriously; his Pau stable has won three of the four French Classics run this year, of which Elusive Wave's victory in the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches was one. Joining her in the mile-long contest is the lightly-raced Reggane, also from France, who was second in a Group Two at last outing. John Oxx shoots for his first Coronation Stakes win since 1995 with Baliyana, owned by the Aga Khan and Mick Channon's Fred Darling winner and Irish Guineas runner-up Lahaleeb also gets the start.