Today the fillies and mares take centre-stage with Integral attempting to complete a historic second success in the Duke of Cambridge Stakes.
In its short yet illustrious history none have managed to win the race twice, though several high quality horses have tried. One such mare was the sensational Soviet Song. Trained by James Fanshawe at Newmarket, she took on the best milers around, including the colts, until her retirement at the age of six. Unbeaten as a two-year-old, she failed to get her head in front at three though ran impressively when chasing home Russian Rhythm in the Coronation Stakes at the royal meeting.
Her form went up a notch the following season. A stunning second to Refuse To Bend in the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot, was followed by a trio of Group 1 victories. She hammered the brilliant three-year-old filly Attraction in the Falmouth, and then defeated the colts in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood. She then ran out a cosy winner over Attraction once again, in the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown.
In 2005 as a five-year-old she was beaten by Peeress in the Duke Of Cambridge (then the Windsor Forest), when it was transferred to York. She followed that run with yet another success in the Falmouth, this time thrashing Peeress in a stunning display. She was then agonisingly close to a second win in the Sussex when just failing to peg back Proclamation in a thrilling finish.
Her final campaign brought success at Royal Ascot, when she stormed clear of Sir Michael Stoute’s Echelon to win the Windsor Forest. It was to be her only victory of 2006, though she again ran a cracker against the colts in the Sussex Stakes finishing second to Court Masterpiece. A 40% winning strike-rate in a career that pitched her against the best milers in the business, proved how exceptional she was.
In today’s renewal Integral is very much the ‘old lady’ in a field of eight. She’ll need to have a season to remember if she is to be spoken of in the same glowing terms as Soviet Song, though her current record of six wins from 11 starts is certainly eye-catching.
She is sure to go off a short price favourite this afternoon and has the added advantage of being trained by Sir Michael Stoute, who happens to be the most successful handler in the races short history. She has a pair of Group 1 victories to her name having taken the Falmouth and the Sun Chariot Stakes last summer. Her reappearance was a solid fourth against the colts in the Lockinge. It would be a surprise if she wasn’t to have another crack at the boys later in the season, but for now domination among her own sex is the aim.
Marco Botti’s Euro Charline could prove a serious opponent especially when in receipt of 5lbs. She was fifth in last year’s 1,000 Guineas before a terrific third to Rizeena in the Coronation Stakes. She appeared to improve as the season progressed, and defeated Kiyoshi at Ascot in July before ending the season with a stunning win in a Group 1 at Arlington Park. This season’s campaign began with a very creditable fourth to Solow in Meydan. That form looks all the more impressive today.
Rizeena is trained by Clive Brittain and is currently three from three at Ascot, including the aforementioned victory in the Coronation Stakes last June. A second place to Integral in last season’s Falmouth was also a top-class performance. She could only manage seventh on her reappearance at Newmarket in the Dahlia Stakes, though the trip that day may well have proved beyond her. She’s a classy filly and looks to have a great chance of maintaining that perfect record at Ascot.
After an opening day treble, Ryan Moore will view Integral as an outstanding opportunity to add to his Royal Ascot tally. Her younger opponents have a gap to bridge if they are to deny her a place in the thinnest of history books.