Camellia set to bloom

Sue Montgomery says Mark Prescott has the answer to today's Fillies' Mile

The fact that Pat Eddery has opted to ride the maiden winner Sleepytime in favour of her tried and tested stablemate Reams Of Verse in today's Fillies Mile at Ascot should indicate the regard in which the two two- year-olds are held in Henry Cecil's yard. And the trainer would not be setting a precedent in winning the Group One race with such an inexperienced horse; last year a certain Bosra Sham went into the contest with similar credentials and won in a canter.

Cecil has compared Sleepytime, who is already the second favourite for the 1,000 Guineas on the strength of her effortless victory at Sandown 11 days ago, favourably with Bosra Sham - which must be considered high praise indeed - and does not test his Classic prospects lightly. But, in the absence of rain, it is worth opposing the inexperienced daughter of Royal Academy, whose forelegs deviate from the ideal and who may be proved better suited by easy ground.

Today's race should identify the filly who may prove the main contender to Dazzle, the runaway winner of the Cherry Hinton Stakes at Newmarket in July, for the juvenile fillies' hierarchy, and that one may be Red Camellia (3.50, nap) who, ironically, carries the same colours. They reside in different stable yards, but both are owned by the Newmarket nursery after which Tuesday's Cheveley Park Stud Stakes at Newmarket - to be contested by Dazzle - is named.

Sleepytime showed on her debut that she owns excellent acceleration, but Red Camellia's experience and staying power can prevail. Unbeaten in three outings, the Polar Falcon filly runs from the front and has an impressive, raking stride, which she used to mighty advantage when she destroyed a smart field in the Prestige Stakes at Goodwood last month. She was eased down to such an extent that her six-length victory was worth double that margin and this afternoon she can keep Sir Mark Prescott's dream of a first Classic win warm for the winter.

In the other top-level two-year-old race, the Group Two Royal Lodge Stakes, Medaaly (2.35, next best) can continue Godolphin's run of success. The Highest Honor colt has had this race as his target since his three-length defeat of Imperial President over this afternoon's trip of a mile trip in August and is still on the upgrade. He may have most to fear from Equal Rights, regarded as a Derby prospect by Peter Chapple-Hyam, but the penalty that one earned when winning the Futurity Stakes at the Curragh may just tip the scales.

The day's richest handicap, the Tote Sunday Special Handicap, is, as might be expected, extremely competitive. Dacha and Beauchamp Jade are among those to be considered, but the vote goes to Arabian Story (4.25), who is on a three-timer after a couple of decent wins at Epsom and York, and primed for the day by his shrewd trainer Lord Huntingdon.

David Loder has done well with his two-year-olds this year and Ricky Ticky Tavie (2.00) should give a good account in the Sunday Stakes, while the in-form Bold Effort (5.00) should go well in the Ascot Rated Handicap. Sky Dome (3.10) should not be far away in the Mail On Sunday Mile Final Handicap and Russian Snows (5.00) may outclass her rivals in the Listed Harvest Stakes.

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