Friday's Coronation Stakes is designed to serve as a clash between the leading three-year-old fillies, and the past two winners, who were both trained in Ireland - Winter in 2017 and Alpha Centauri in 2018 - went on to dominate their generation.
Aidan O'Brien was responsible for Winter, who picked up four straight Group 1 wins as a three-year-old before being retired at the end of that season, and he will be hoping that Hermosa proves to be similarly prolific for him this year.
This year's dual-Guineas winner is a warm order in the betting (even money favourite at the time of writing), and her position in the market is a deserved one. She has by far and away the best form amongst the field, having built on her tenacious win in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket last month when winning the Irish version at the Curragh in emphatic style three weeks later (Pretty Pollyanna second, Just Wonderful seventh). Her strength at the finish was evident on both occasions, suggesting she should have no problem staying a mile and a quarter when the time comes, but in the meantime she is the one to beat here, with Ascot's stiff finish only likely to bring about further improvement.
Of the other Ballydolye runners, Just Wonderful won the Flame of Tara Stakes at the Curragh, and Rockfel Stakes at Newmarket last season, but has disappointed in two starts this term, while in contrast stablemate Happen arrives here on an upward trajectory, producing a fine turn of foot to come from last to first in the Group 3 Athasi Stakes at the Curragh last month.
The clear second favourite is the impeccably-bred and highly promising Jubiloso. She is very much an unknown quantity at this level, but made a winning debut at Chelmsford in April, and looked a Group 1 filly in the making when winning under a penalty at Newbury last time, putting the race to bed in a matter of strides having travelled powerfully beforehand. She is a fascinating contender, for all that she is priced up largely on potential rather than what she's shown so far - it would be some feat for her to win a race of this nature having only made her debut at the end of April.
Another unbeaten filly in the line-up is the French 1000 Guineas winner Castle Lady, who, like Jubiloso, was unraced at two. She followed up an all-weather at Chantilly with victory in a Group 3 at Longchamp a month later, and extended her winning start to three when winning last month's Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (by a nose from subsequent Prix de Dianes runner-up Commes). She didn't achieve much more on the figures that day than she did in winning on her previous start, but she has come a long way since her debut, and seems sure to improve further still. The other French raider in the field is Watch Me, who was sixth behind Castle Lady last time. Admittedly, she could have finished in the places with a clearer run that day, but needs to progress again here.
Though not as heavily campaigned as some from the yard, Main Edition was much busier as two-year-old last year, her four wins including the Albany Stakes at this meeting. She didn't run to form when well held in the Nell Gwyn on her reappearance, and missed the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket as a result, but bounced back to her best when winning the German equivalent at Dusseldorf (by a neck from Axana). She's a straight-forward type, and though this may prove too much of an ask, she is not to be dismissed too readily.
Pretty Pollyanna was one of the top juveniles last season, her three wins including the Prix Morny at Deauville, but she has had an interrupted start to this campaign, missing Newmarket after failing to impress connections in a crucial piece of work beforehand. As such, she made her reappearance in the Irish Guineas, and shaped well to finish four lengths behind Hermosa, having to cover more ground than anything else having been drawn out wide, and seeing out the trip well enough in the circumstances to think that she is effective at it. She is entitled to come on for that run and is respected as a result, though wouldn't want the ground to soften.
The field is completed by Mot Juste and Twist 'N' Shake. The last-named Twist bumped into a Group-class rival when second at a listed race at York last time, and this is far tougher, so she looks likely to struggle, while Mot Juste was down the field in the 1000 Guineas when last seen, seemingly struggling when hampered two furlongs out.
In summary, it's difficult to get away from the dual Guineas winner Hermosa, considering that she boasts by far the best form in the field, and also has the potential to rate even higher still. It is interesting that connections have opted for this race over the Prix de Diane, for which she was initially being aimed at, and she can give Aidan O'Brien his first win in this race since Lillie Langtry in 2010. Jubiloso is a fascinating contender who falls into the 'could be anything' category, but she will have to be very smart to take this on just her third start, while French Guineas winner Castle Lady is another to consider.