Racing: Quiff tempts Stoute to take on Leger colts

One of racing's most durable and confounding runs of misfortune may be at an end on the muddy evidence delivered here on the Knavesmire yesterday.

One of racing's most durable and confounding runs of misfortune may be at an end on the muddy evidence delivered here on the Knavesmire yesterday.

Quiff won the Yorkshire Oaks and is now likely to have her first and last attempt at Classic fortune in the St Leger at Doncaster on 11 September. Sir Michael Stoute and Kieren Fallon have tried many times before, yet the most successful British partnership of modern times has yet to register a single Leger between them. It appears a vulnerable fact.

The white rose Oaks was initially devalued yesterday by the elements. Heavy rain necessitated the withdrawal of the winner of the Epsom and Irish versions, Ouija Board, usually Fallon's mount. But while we were denied Ed Dunlop's filly it was not at the expense of a devastating performance.

In Ouija Board's absence because of the ground the havoc was meant to be wreaked by Godolphin's Punctilious and Frankie Dettori certainly rode his filly with great certainty. The nosebanded Punctilious was sent to the front from the outset and travelled pleasingly until the field turned into the long Knavesmire straight. Almost immediately, however, the favourite punctured and the formidable form of Quiff emerged to challenge up the centre of the track.

All Fallon had to do was push to send his thundering partner further away from her labouring pursuers. Quiff swerved towards the grandstands in the latter stages, but she was also swerving forwards, at such a rate that she was 11 lengths clear at the line.

"She's a very progressive filly," Stoute said. "The race didn't pan out right for her at Royal Ascot and she may have been unlucky not to win the Ribblesdale [which went to Punctilious]. She's just a good filly. She's on the up. I would certainly be tempted to go the Leger route."

That final assertion persuaded Ladbrokes to go 5-2 for Town Moor. The 7-1 with William Hill and Coral's 5-1 disappeared in a twinkling.

Fallon now lies in the enviable position of owning the rides on the two outstanding fillies of the campaign. "You can't really compare the two," the jockey said. "I would never knock Ouija Board because she's done nothing wrong, but she could never have done it in this ground. Ouija Board has a real good turn of foot on firm ground, while this filly lengthens rather than quickens."

Such was the Irishman's enthusiasm yesterday that he was happy to suspend one of his sacred tenets and suggest aiming Quiff at the best of her male counterparts in the Leger. "I don't like taking on the colts with a filly, but, when you've got one this good, then you've also got a chance," he said.

"On what she's done here today it would take a fair colt to beat her. She's a big filly who hasn't had much racing and she's still growing up. She's certainly coming into her own now."

They wait all year in these parts for the Ebor and they had to wait a year and a bit longer this season when a protracted stewards' inquiry followed the great handicap.

The investigation followed a typically rousing Ebor denouement. It was a race run in the spasmodic rain which visited the racecourse. Due consideration was given to the terrain and the field went unusually slowly for this £200,000 handicap. Yet even that did not help. They still all came home shattered.

Gold Ring appeared to be the first survivor until the well-backed Mephisto appeared out of the pack. At that stage, they were on opposite sides of the track, but, as the cloying ground took affect, they were magnetised towards each other.

Mephisto took the more ragged course, and the lead, before Gold Ring fought back. But Gold Ring was then denied by a short-head on the line. The stewards adjudged Darryll Holland on Mephisto guilty of careless riding and suspended him for a day. He can spend that counting his cut of the winnings.

¿ Trainer Milton Bradley fears the going could be too soft for The Tatling in today's Nunthorpe Stakes at York: "He's much better on good to firm ground, although he has run well on the soft in France," said Bradley.

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