A winner-finding system is always welcome and the past six weeks have produced one that has proved very nearly infallible. Of the past five fillies-only Group One races in the European calendar, John Gosden has taken four. The sequence was started by Fallen For You in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot, followed by Izzi Top (Pretty Polly Stakes, Curragh), Great Heavens (Irish Oaks, Curragh) and completed yesterday by Elusive Kate in the Prix Rothschild at Deauville. So, presumably, look out for their stablemate The Fugue in the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood on Saturday.
But for Elusive Kate's narrow defeat in the Falmouth Stakes 17 days ago, it would have been a nap hand. The Newmarket race was the three-year-old's first since her juvenile days, her reappearance having been delayed by a combination of minor physical niggles and unseasonably soft ground, but she belied her lack of match practice, going down to the French raider Giofra by only half a length.
Regular rider William Buick handed her over to Frankie Dettori that day, preferring the chances of another Gosden inmate, Joviality. Yesterday he was back in Elusive Kate's saddle and handed out a masterclass in front-running to his Gallic rivals on the straight seaside mile.
With only five runners, the contest could have become tactical, but Buick set out from the start to be the mouse the cats could not play with. And he had enough horse under him to control proceedings smoothly and efficiently; Elusive Kate, second market choice at 27-10, stepped up a gear on demand three furlongs out, put daylight between herself and the rest going to the final furlong and galloped home strongly. The 7-10 favourite Golden Lilac was best of the rest, an unthreatening length and three-quarters adrift.
It was a fourth win from four runs in France for Teruya Yoshida's colourbearer, her previous visit having yielded her first top-level success in the Prix Marcel Boussac last October. "She likes it here," grinned Buick. "Everything went to plan, she did it well and showed a real turn of foot."
Four-year-old Golden Lilac, from the André Fabre yard, was looking for redemption after her odds-on ninth place in the Falmouth Stakes, a flop for the French crack attributed to ground that was too testing and the stresses of travelling. She was closer to Elusive Kate this time, but nonetheless beaten fair and square.
Gosden may have to start juggling the talents of the embarrassment of riches that is his distaff team, but having to do so would be a problem that most of his colleagues would be delighted to have to face.
At Deauville on Saturday, on the first day of the Normandy seaside track's summer season, Mark Johnson had sent Discernable to take the Prix Six Perfections, a Listed event won by Elusive Kate on her way up the ladder last year. Yesterday the Middleham trainer had to settle for the runner-up spot in the two-year-old Group Three on the card, as Baileys Jubilee went under by a short-neck to the colt Mazameer, trained by Freddy Head for Hamdan al-Maktoum.
Deauville is under way, Goodwood's glorious meeting opens tomorrow, and Ireland gets in on the summer fun this afternoon, with the start of the Galway Festival. The week-long mixed marathon's jumping highlight is the Galway Plate, a valuable handicap chase, on Wednesday evening and the system to follow is perhaps to latch on to Dermot Weld, champion trainer at the fixture 27 times and responsible for an unprecedented 17 winners last year.
Chris McGrath's Nap: Dutch Heritage (2.35 Ayr)
Showed a degree of ability on his first run this term but disappointed next time after a slow start. Compensation may await with blinkers now applied.
Next Best: Jumeirah Moon (2.15 Yarmouth)
Acquitted himself respectably on his debut against a filly who has since been placed at Listed level, and there should be improvement.
One to watch: Though beaten at odds-on at Newmarket recently, Nargys (Luca Cumani) could not cope with the soft ground and should find compensation on a faster surface.
Where The Money's Going: Irish Grand National runner-up Out Now was cut yesterday to 14-1 from 16s by Ladbrokes for Wednesday's Galway Plate.