Peeress in top form for Ascot

PEERESS is an improving filly who can land yet another major prize in the Queen Anne Stakes (4.25pm) when Royal Ascot opens tomorrow.

Sir Michael Stoute, pictured, is a dab hand at getting the best out of his young ladies and Peeress has gradually improved throughout her racing career.

She has won seven of her 13 races and has never finished out of the first four, earning almost 400,000 in prize money. She graduated from handicap company to make a successful reappearance in a Listed event at York early last year and she took a big step up in class in her stride when winning the Group Two Windsor Forest Stakes when the Royal meeting switched to York's Knavesmire last year.

She ran on strongly to catch Sundrop - who had beaten her comprehensively at Epsom 12 days earlier - in the last 100 yards. And she continued her progress when finishing third in the Group One Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket before returning to that track to land her first Group One prize in the Sun Chariot Stakes last October.

Stoute turned her out in great fettle for her return to action at Newbury last month and she produced a strong run to lead inside the final furlong and land the Group One Lockinge Stakes - one of the top mile events of the season. She had Court Masterpiece just over five lengths back in third and should confirm that form, so her main rival looks to be Proclamation. He also won at the Royal fixture last summer, taking the Jersey Stakes before winning the Group One Sussex Stakes at Goodwood.

He has since joined Godolphin and makes his debut here in their blue silks, but has not raced since September and Peeress gets a confident vote.

Araafa's juvenile form last year was decent, if not top class, but he thrived during the winter and reappeared to finish an excellent fourth in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket. Jeremy Noseda's colt was staying on strongly there and turned in a fine effort to take the Irish 2000 Guineas a fortnight later, turning the tables decisively on his Newmarket conqueror George Washington.

A stiff mile obviously suits him well and he can follow up in the St James's Palace Stakes (3.50pm) in the hands of Alan Munro who has established a good rapport with the three-year-old this year.

Reverence has won six of his ten races and has developed into a very fast customer indeed.

He can take the first big sprint of the week, the King's Stand Stakes (3.10pm) over the minimum five furlongs. The gelding is a half-brother to Helm Bank who won at the Royal meeting as a juvenile and Reverence established himself amongst our top speedsters when comfortably winning the Group Two Temple Stakes at Sandown recently.

Kevin Ryan had a wonderful year with his juveniles last term and seems to have another strong team of youngsters again. Sadeek made a successful debut on easy ground at York and then followed up on a much faster surface at Epsom's Derby meeting.

He is reported to have improved again in the interim and can retain his unbeaten record in the Coventry Stakes (2.35pm) which opens what promises to be a thrilling five-day extravaganza.

Joe Rowntree's selections: 2.35 Sadeek; 3.10 Reverence; 3.50 Araafa; 4.25 Peeress.