Racing: Calando can follow mum's path

Sue Montgomery picks up the family threads for the stud-sponsored fillies' race at Ascot today
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TODAY at Ascot the spotlight shifts to the youngest and, perhaps less obviously, future generations of racehorses with the 25th running of the Fillies' Mile. The race has regularly served its purpose as a signpost to next year's Classics since it was created as a foil to the older Royal Lodge Stakes, with winners and placees including Dunfermline, Scintillate, Quick As Lightning, Circus Plume, Oh So Sharp, Diminuendo, Bosra Sham, Sleepytime and Reams of Verse.

And, appropriately enough for a contest now sponsored by a leading stud, it has also proved a guide to stars of the paddocks. To name but a few, the 1981 winner Height of Fashion earned fame through her sons Nashwan and Unfuwain; Exclusively Raised and Fiesta Fun, second and third in 1980, later produced Entrepreneur and Saumarez respectively; Morning Devotion, third in 1984, became dam of Balanchine and Romanov. And Majmu, sixth in 1990, is responsible for Muhtathir.

The family threads that are such a fascinating part of this sport can be picked up this afternoon, with a daughter of a previous winner in the field. The leading fancy Calando is the daughter of 1987 heroine Diminuendo, who subsequently went on to win the Oaks.

Calando (3.50), by Storm Cat, proved herself one of the best of an exceptional bunch of two-year-old fillies trained by David Loder with an emphatic defeat of Tuesday's Warwick winner Kalidasa in the May Hill Stakes over today's distance at Doncaster 17 days ago.

Like Diminuendo, she is not the biggest in the world, but seems to have inherited mum's engine and competitive attitude and can set the European standard ahead of the Prix Marcel Boussac at Longchamp today week before her tilt at the at juvenile fillies' race at the Breeders' Cup meeting in Kentucky in November.

The Irish have taken the Fillies' Mile only once previously but field a duo with sound staying credentials this time. The John Oxx-trained Edabiya has already won at Group 1 level, having taken the seven- furlong Moyglare Stud Stakes at The Curragh earlier this month after her debut Listed win. Sunspangled was behind her on both occasions but Aidan O'Brien's representative is evidently thought worthy of a third crack.

John Dunlop will have a line to Calando through his charge Barafamy, third in the May Hill, and relies on Alabaq who is sure to improve on the smooth performance she produced to win her maiden at Lingfield.

The Royal Lodge Stakes, first run in 1946, has been won by two Classic winners during the Nineties, Mister Baileys in 1993 and Benny The Dip two years ago. The Chief's Crown colt Desaru (2.35), who produced a smart turn of foot to beat Chief Rebel at Doncaster, looks the pick in today's renewal, with the Newmarket maiden winner Gudlage the danger.

The day's richest contest may prove to be the Mail on Sunday Mile Final, with a pounds 150,000 bonus on offer to a horse that wins after running in the frame in two qualifiers. All of the eligible trio, La Modiste, Pantar and Hyde Park, have sound credentials but Silken Dalliance (3.10) could pop up at a price.

The 12-furlong Sunday Special brings together 18 high-class middle-distance handi- cappers in cracking form. Alcazar (4.25) looked destined for better things when he picked up well to catch Rokeby Bowl at Haydock three weeks ago. Front-running top-weight Rainwatch will come to the fray refreshed and reliable. Montecristo is another of the longer shots with possibilities.