Millie on right track for sprinting success

Given that it is the first day of what is billed as the Festival of British Racing, there could be a rather more, well, festive air about the racing at Ascot this afternoon.

Given that it is the first day of what is billed as the Festival of British Racing, there could be a rather more, well, festive air about the racing at Ascot this afternoon. That the televised segment comprises a sales race, a sprint handicap and a Listed event for fillies and mares, several of whom have seen better days, suggests that by extending what was originally a one-day meeting to three, Ascot has spread things a little too thinly for comfort. Cheltenham, which every now and again considers adding an extra day to the National Hunt Festival, should take note.

There is nothing wrong with the quantity on offer, however, either in terms of runners or prize-money, thanks mainly to the quarter of a million pounds which is up for grabs in the Watership Down Stud Stakes. Twenty-nine two-year-old fillies are scheduled go to post, with various burdens according to how much they cost as yearlings at auction. Six-and-a-half furlongs later, the first one home will win a very generous £129,950.

Huge fields of juvenile fillies, many of whom, judged on racecourse evidence, could just as easily be plying their trade in Pattern races or sellers this time next year, are as dubious a betting medium as you are likely to find (one possible exception being the Find The Lady games run by cockneys with knife scars on the path between Ascot station and the racecourse). The rate at which fillies can improve when the leaves start to turn adds a further tier of uncertainty to what is already a very shaky house of cards.

In the face of such imponderables, one sensible choice would be to side with the proven form of a runner like Lipstick, who has won her last two outings and is clearly one of the best horses in the race. She has a 7lb penalty to carry too, though, and thus must give at least 5lb – and in most cases a stone or more – to 28 lightly raced opponents. It seems unlikely that one or more of them will not exploit the weight they receive.

Inevitably, there are at least a dozen possibilities, but one who looks to have the ability to go on to better things – and has been targeted at this race for some time – is Diana Panagaea (3.10). She quickened well to win at Lingfield first time out, and several of those who finished down the field in that race have run respectably since.

The sprint handicap is another race which will take some solving, although another filly, Torosay Spring, will start at a short price after two recent victories, and should still be improving having raced just four times in all. She has been raised another 6lb for her latest success, though, and offers no value in what is far from being a one-horse race. Trace Clip, who is creeping up the weights without winning, has a solid chance, while horses who drop back into handicap company from Pattern races, such as Patsy's Double, usually merit respect.

At the likely odds, though, FLYING MILLIE (nap 3.45) is the one to back, as she returns to the scene of her success at the Shergar Cup meeting. She has only eight runs behind her, and is perhaps a little unlucky not to be on a four-timer. At 10-1 with Coral and William Hill, she is a sound bet, while Nafisah (next best 2.35) holds strong claims in the Harvest Stakes.

Gossamer is the Tote's 5-4 favourite for the Fillies' Mile at Ascot tomorrow after eight were left in the Group One event at yesterday's final declaration stage. Henry Cecil's Half Glance, the winner of the May Hill Stakes at Doncaster, is a 15-8 chance, followed by Sundari at 13-2, and it is 11-1 bar. The Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, the day's feature, will have 11 runners, after China Visit and Beckett were taken out yesterday.

The warm favourite for next Saturday's Cambridgeshire Handicap will need a new jockey, however, after George Duffield, due to ride Alphaeus for Sir Mark Prescott, was banned for four days for improper riding at Pontefract yesterday. The stewards decided that Duffield used his whip with excessive frequency on Stroke Of Six, who finished second in the nursery.

* The appeal by the Jockey Club's sacked security chief, Roger Buffham, has been dismissed. Buffham was sacked in August following an internal inquiry. The Club stressed that his dismissal was not as a result of operational work but from allegations made following a complaint involving his staff.

News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Extras
indybest
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
travel
Arts and Entertainment
music
Sport
football
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, Graduate, SQL, VBA)

£45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, ...

Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Perl, Bash, SQL)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Per...

C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB6, WinForms)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...

C# Developer (Genetic Algorithms, .NET 4.5, TDD, SQL, AI)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home