Hydrangea Stars in Duke of Cambridge Stakes
When eleven fillies and mares head to post for Wednesday’s Duke of Cambridge Stakes (Eng-II) at , all eyes will be on Hydrangea, who appears to tower over her rivals in the one-mile event.There’s no such thing as a sure thing in racing, but Hydrangea arguably comes close. Trained by , the well-bred daughter of Galileo has been a top-class Group 1 competitor throughout her career and went on quite a roll last fall, sandwiching victories in the Matron Stakes (Ire-I) and the QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mare Stakes (Eng-I) around a narrow loss behind stablemate Rhododendron in the Prix de l’Opera Longines (Fr-I).
While it’s true that Hydrangea was beaten in her 2018 debut, going down by 1 ¾ lengths in the Lanwades Stud Stakes (Ire-II) at the Curragh last month, she should improve from that run and will have top jockey in the saddle for the Duke of Cambridge. If she fires her best shot, it could be difficult for anyone to top her.
Still, Hydrangea will face plenty of competition at Royal Ascot, with the capable Group 3 winner Aljazzi considered one of the main threats. The Marco Botti-trained five-year-old finished a close second in the 2017 Duke of Cambridge and, like Hydrangea, will be making her second start of the season this Wednesday.
Tomyris, a game winner of the seven-furlong Fillies’ Stakes (Eng-III) last month at Lingfield, is in career-best form but will lose the services of her last-out rider Frankie Dettori, who opts to ride Wilamina instead. The latter filly is likewise enjoying a banner start to the season, finishing second behind Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. I) winner Wuheida in the Dahlia Stakes (Eng-II) at Newmarket before scoring a victory in the Princess Elizabeth Stakes (Eng-III) at Epsom.
Godolphin Racing will be represented by Arabian Hope, who won the International Istanbul Trophy (Tur-III) last September, and Promising Run, a four-time Group 2 winner who has achieved the majority of her success at Meydan in Dubai.
Urban Fox and Tribute Act, 1-2 in a one-mile handicap race at Ascot last month, bring experience over the course and distance into the Duke of Cambridge, while Lincoln Rocks—runner-up behind Tomyris in the Fillies’ Stakes—will be making her Ascot debut. The 2017 German 1,000 Guineas (Ger-II) winner Unforgettable Filly and the listed stakes victor Billesdon Bess complete the field.
The Duke of Cambridge Stakes is the third race of the day, with a post time of 9:40 p.m. Eastern.