05/02/2014 3:51PM

Rizeena a solid favorite for the English 1000 Guineas

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Though she faces 18 opponents, Rizeeena is a solid favorite to win her 3-year-old debut Sunday in the English 1000 Guineas.

Rizeena ended an eight-start 2-year-old campaign, finishing second to the ill-fated Chriselliam in the Group 1 Fillies Stakes, a race, like the Guineas, contested over a straight-course mile at Newmarket. Rizeena’s most important victory among four last year came in the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes over seven furlongs at The Curragh.

Rizeena is trained by 79-year-old Clive Brittain, who won the 1000 Guineas in 1984 with Pebbles and in 1993 with Sayyedati. Brittain, who is based in Newmarket, said Rizeena comes into Sunday’s race in the best form of her life.

Lucky Kristale won four of five starts last year at 2 and beat Rizeena in the Cambridge Stakes, but that was a six-furlong race, and Lucky Kristale is not as certain to stay the Guineas mile as Rizeena. Also in the race is Vorda, who ran below her best form finishing seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf but did get the benefit of a French prep race in early April.

Champions Mile favors local runners at Sha Tin

On the other side of the world Sunday, Sha Tin Racecourse hosts the 14th renewal of the Group 1 Champions Mile.

The race drew a high-profile shipper, the South African champion Variety Club, but though Variety Club exits a victory in the Group 1 Goldolphin Mile in Dubai, he is bucking a very strong historical trend. A  Hong Kong-based horse has won every edition of the Champions Mile, and there are several qualified local runners this year. That group includes Able Friend, California Memory, Glorious Days, and Gold Fun.

Also in the race is the Irish horse Gordon Lord Byron, who won one of two starts in Australia after finishing fourth of 14 in the Hong Kong Mile last December at Sha Tin.