What fun it was, and what nonsense. Three months after his defeat by Tirol at Newmarket, Machiavellian finished last in a Group Two event and staggered into retirement. That embarrassing nosedive is worth recalling following the victory of Coup De Genie, Machiavellian's full sister, in the strongly-contested Group One Prix Morny at Deauville yesterday.
Sometimes it seems as if such patterns repeat themselves so readily that it is a wonder we are not all rich. It was the same race in 1989 which announced Machiavellian's arrival, and only the jockey has changed. Cash Asmussen, rather than Freddie Head, was in the saddle yesterday, but Stavros Niarchos and Francois Boutin were the owner and trainer picking up generous cheques.
Coup De Genie's one-and-a-half length success was a smooth one, almost on the bit, and Hills were soon taking shears to her price for next year's 1,000 Guineas, but the name of the runner-up should strike a note of warning for the excitable. He was called Psychobabble.
For the benefit of the demented, Coup De Genie is now rated a 14-1 chance for the first Classic of 1994, a laughable price which may become riotous if she can pass her next test. That is likely to be the Prix de la Salamandre at Longchamp - just as it was for her brother.
There may also be another one like her at home: East Of The Moon, the second foal of Miesque and so a half-sister to Kingmambo, and according to informed speculation the equal of Coup De Genie on the exercise gallops. Longchamp's Prix d'Aumale on 15 September will give her a chance to prove it, but Hills already have East Of The Moon at just 16-1 for Newmarket in the spring. You can have any Guineas price you like, though, about Roger Charlton's colt Solar Wagon, the sole British challenger for the Morny, who set a slow pace before weakening into sixth.
If any British visitors to France this weekend returned with more prizemoney to their credit than Lanfranco Dettori, they must have won the lottery. Dettori recorded a double on British-trained horses in the Challenge d'Or Piaget and Piaget d'Or, both worth pounds 180,000 to the winner, at Deauville on Saturday. Gavin Pritchard-Gordon's Prince Babar took the former contest, while Richard Hannon saddled improving filly Dana Springs to land the second.
Dana Springs may now move up to Group One company in the Prix Vermeille, which doubles as a trial for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, the odds for which offer another example of how swiftly racing fortunes can change. A week ago, Henry Cecil's Sabrehill was contracting swiftly in the Arc market; this morning his brief career is already over, with his retirement due to a tendon injury announced on Friday night.
He had looked a potential champion; but then, so did Machiavellian.