Racing: Coronation confirms Attraction's true majesty

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The Independent Online

The Queen was here yesterday, quite coincidental as the monarch was also in attendance. The struggle to win hearts and minds is not so arduous when Attraction is around and the monster filly in both physique and performance this morning bestrides the turf like few others in the modern era.

The Queen was here yesterday, quite coincidental as the monarch was also in attendance. The struggle to win hearts and minds is not so arduous when Attraction is around and the monster filly in both physique and performance this morning bestrides the turf like few others in the modern era.

It could be considered appropriate that yesterday's lengthening of Attraction's unbeaten record to eight races came in the Coronation Stakes, but the crown has been lying quite easily on her head since she became the first filly to win both the English and Irish 1,000 Guineas. Things really are getting better.

Racing exists, as a betting medium at least, because it is an unpredictable pursuit. Attraction, though, removes that random nature. She jumps and she runs and the others around are only a mild concern.

As the big filly bowled along yesterday, you could sense a ripple of tiredness coursing through her opponents, as, one by one, they began hurting. Little this large is ever so elusive, but the field could not get anywhere near her. The free-striding favourite had lulled them into a legitimate sense of insecurity by the time she reached the turn. It was her first race round a bend but not the first time she had driven her rivals round one.

Attraction lurched slightly in the straight, as if her body was struggling to contain her own engine strength. Her front limbs slapped away in characteristic style, thrashing through all points of the compass but carrying her Amazonian body on a fast and true line.

Mark Johnston, her trainer, has tired of references to Attraction's wonky legs, but her very name now conjures up an impression of physical deformity. Think of her as the Cyrano de Bergerac of the turf. The last time we talked as much about feminine legs they were attached to Betty Grable's hips.

Royal Tigress hung around for a while yesterday and Majestic Desert ran on with a purpose that was missing from her two Guineas efforts to finish second, a respectful two and a half lengths away, yet this was genuinely a one-horse race. It felt like a time-trial and it was a good one at that. The clock stopped at 1.38.54, three-hundredths outside the record of a race first run in 1840.

Johnston had enjoyed a projectile breakfast when he noticed Attraction was selected by so few in the naps table. "Ye of little faith," he said. "Only five of the 16 tipsters went for Attraction and I don't know what more she has to do. They said that she would not stay the stiff mile in the Irish Guineas. They said she would not confirm Newmarket form with Red Bloom. They said she wouldn't come round a bend.

"I knew that provided she was 100 per cent she would win, but the pressure has been intense. There is such a cloud over the yard [where coughing has broken out] that when I went to see her at 7.15 this morning I was prepared to take her out if there was the slightest thing wrong."

Johnston added: "Luckily, she was as bright as a button and she has produced a performance right out of the top drawer. She is the most phenomenal racehorse that I have trained by a long way. We were uptight before the race, but when Kevin [Darley, the jockey] walked in the paddock he asked me where we were going next. He was that confident."

Darley himself said: "So many good horses can be complicated in one way or another, but she is so easy and is simply an unbelievable filly. She was a bit keen for the first furlong and a half, but she soon settled into her routine and was relaxed, lobbing along happily. She switched leads crossing the road and once in the straight she lengthened and they never got near me."

Attraction has long since lived up to her name and the next arena to benefit from her talents is likely to be Newmarket's July course for the Falmouth Stakes. Such is her hegemony among her own sex that the time must come when Attraction tackles the only challenge left. Bring on the boys. "We will have to take on the colts and I would love to have a crack at the Breeders' Cup Mile in Dallas in October," Johnston said. "Success on the international stage would really ice the cake."

RICHARD EDMONDSON

Nap: High Reach

(Royal Ascot 4.25)

NB: Ashdown Express

(Royal Ascot 3.45)

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