There are several ways to tell the Ribblesdale Stakes (G2) is a race for improving middle-distance fillies without even looking at the race conditions.
A glance at the previous winners shows the last seven all came from the stables of John Gosden or the cradle of Coolmore. Five of those seven fillies went on to land a group or grade 1 at some point in their career—not always over this trip or further, incidentally.
Late bloomers who can mix it at one mile and two furlongs and one mile and four furlongs used to be Sir Michael Stoute’s territory. He is not the dominant force anymore, but is still a player and Noon Star looks like one of his best prospects.
That would have been the case even before she saw a racecourse as she is supremely well bred, the result of a meeting between Galileo and Midday . As that pedigree might imply, Epsom was the aim for Noon Star before injury intervened.
On her previous start she had finished 3 3/4 lengths behind Snowfall , which was 12 1/4 lengths better than anything managed in the Cazoo Oaks (G1).
Snowfall’s yawning win at Epsom is a noted exception to a pattern developing among this year’s 3-year-old fillies in particular. Top-quality performances have been few and far between.
The QIPCO One Thousand Guineas (G1) suggested much of a muchness, while nothing behind Snowfall in the Oaks ran to a three-figure Racing Post Rating. There is plenty of room in the middle for a classy filly to pick up whatever Snowfall leaves.
That attainment gap is currently being plugged by strong juvenile form, which Dubai Fountain holds most strongly courtesy of her bet365 Fillies’ Mile (G1) fourth. She never looked comfortable at Epsom and is excused, although she raced so freely that the assertion she will benefit from a full one mile and four furlongs is now made with a little less confidence.
The other runner to come here from Epsom is Divinely , who finished third but could easily be said to be the second-best filly on the day. She tanked through the race away from the favored near-side rail, but got going all too late.
She shaped well at Lingfield the time before that and has a pedigree to match against Noon Star, being by Galileo out of Red Evie and is a full sister to the exceptional mare Found .
One form line that will be tested fully for the first time is the Haras De Bouquetot Fillies’ Trial Stakes at Newbury. Unusually, nothing from that race ran in the Oaks but the first four run here.
The bare form is likely muddling, comparing poorly time-wise with the London Gold Cup on the card.
Even so, these were all once-raced fillies with strong connections and pedigrees and Eshaada came from a way off the pace to prevail. She is already outstaying her pedigree, which raises concerns going up in trip.
While the worth of the Trial Stakes could be debated, it seems likely that the one with most progress in her is Twisted Reality. She looked the most obvious in need of the experience at Newbury and is bred to come into her own as her stamina is teased out.
Her powerful connections could have built her up gradually and it is not to be overlooked given that she is upped in class again so soon.
Can Gosden Make It Three in a Row?
John and Thady Gosden will launch a three-pronged attack as they bid to land the Ribblesdale Stakes for the third time in succession.
The market suggests their standout chance is Gloria Mundi , who was narrowly denied by Eshaada at Newbury last time and will once again be partnered by Frankie Dettori. She is joined in the 13-runner field by stablemates Taslima , third in the Betfair Pretty Polly last month, and Loving Dream, who was fifth in the Lingfield Novibet Oaks Trial.
“Gloria Mundi has run well on both of her starts and should handle the ground if it turns soft,” said John Gosden, who won the race with Kerrygold Irish Oaks (G1) winner Star Catcher in 2019 and Frankly Darling last year.
“Taslima is getting the hang of things but whether she will handle ease in the ground is open to question. They didn’t go a great gallop last time in the Lingfield Oaks Trial for Loving Dream to show her best, so hopefully they go a bit quicker this time around.”