The Princess Elizabeth Stakes kicks off Epsom's Derby Festival on Friday afternoon and it looks set to be a cracking renewal of the Group Three race for fillies and mares. There is barely anything to choose between the leading contenders at this stage as several of the ten-runner field step up to one mile and half a furlong for the first time in their careers.
It is Roger Charlton's Thistle Bird who carries favouritism and the Selkirk mare can be backed at odds of 7/2 with PaddyPower. The 5-year-old has shown plenty of class in her short career to date as she has won three times in Listed company and she was an impressive runner-up in the Celebration Mile at Goodwood last year. She made her seasonal reappearance at Newmarket recently, finishing third to Dank in the Group Three Dahlia Stakes.
Friday's Group Three should offer another stern test for Thistle Bird and Sentaril is next best in the betting at 11/2. William Haggas's 4-year-old rounded off her 2012 campaign with a listed victory over a mile, beating Burke's Lady by a head. The latter turned the tables on her seasonal reappearance though as Sentaril was runner-up to the same filly on her return at Goodwood.
Just a touch further back from Sentaril in the betting is Richard Fahey's ultra-reliable Lady's First, who can be backed at 13/2. The Dutch Art filly improved for the step up in trip when producing an excellent effort to finish third in the Middleton Stakes at York on her reappearance and several fillies are expected to kick on over this week's extra distance at Epsom.
John Gosden's Starscope looks an intriguing contender at 7/1 with Paddy Power bookmakers and she is a filly that could thrive on Friday. The daughter of Selkirk has mixed it in higher class fields than this in the past as she was runner-up in the 1,000 Guineas last year before finishing in the same position in the Group Two Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot. Her last two outings were something of a disappointment but Epsom looks like a perfect venue for her to bounce back to form, while it bodes well that eight of the last 10 renewals of the Princess Elizabeth have been won by four year olds.
8/1 chance Ultrasonic is another 4-year-old who is expected to enjoy this week's trip as she is bred to stay and she is the sole representative of Sir Michael Stoute, who won this race twice with Echelon at the 2006 and 2007 Epsom Derby meetings. Stoute holds Ultrasonic in high regard and since winning a six furlong handicap on the July Course last season she has finished runner-up in three successive races.
Meanwhile, Ed Dunlop's Beatrice Aurore (7/1) has won over this trip in the past and she makes her debut for Dunlop after finishing runner-up in pattern races in Turkey and Ireland last term. Gifted Girl (15/2) takes her chance for Paul Cole after winning on her reappearance at Ascot, although more will be needed here. Waterway Run (8/1) was a respectable sixth in a bumper field for the French 1,000 Guineas on her return, while Ighraa (12/1) and Making Eyes (33/1) complete the field for an intriguing race on Friday.
Tip: Starscope @ odds of 7/1 with PaddyPower -
7/2 Thistle Bird
13/2 Ladys First
7/1 Beatrice Aurore
15/2 Gifted Girl
8/1 Waterway Run
33/1 Making Eyes
Odds supplied by PaddyPower.com.
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