Group One prizes do not grow on trees, and the most pertinent lesson from Sariska's defeat here yesterday was to give due credit to those – not least Sea The Stars himself, on the first day of the meeting – who do pick them off almost as a matter of routine.
It is not hard to see why Sariska should have laboured unavailingly to get past Dar Re Mi in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks. After all, the absurd ease of her success at the Curragh last month could be attributed largely to going she adored, and her main rivals loathed. Here, in contrast, overnight watering and earlier showers had not prevented another course record in the Jaguar Lowther Stakes. Sariska could well have been inhibited by the fast ground; there were suggestions, moreover, that she was in season.
For the moment, however, it is better to accept that in these conditions she simply lacked the legs to cope with Dar Re Mi, a seasoned opponent who certainly rubbed shoulders with a superior crop of three-year-olds in her own Classic campaign. In this same race last year, she had been beaten only by Lush Lashes, and she then proceeded to the Prix Vermeille only to bump into Zarkava herself.
John Gosden, her trainer, will now send her back to Longchamp, albeit he knows that the French again have an unusual talent in Stacelita. "And she can run like the wind," he remarked. "So it is a very exciting division."
Jamie Spencer, on Sariska, shadowed Dar Re Mi throughout, initially as Barshiba strung them out and then as Jimmy Fortune sent the winner on approaching the furlong pole. The 4-11 favourite kept up her pursuit, but it was all in slow motion, and she was held by three-quarters of a length.
"Sariska had dead aim on us all the way up the straight," Gosden noted. "The older filly has beaten the younger one, and it's the first time Sariska has met older fillies. Without us in the race, she would have won three Oaks in a row. Dar Re Mi has done really well from three to four."
Gosden has handled this filly with restraint this term, knowing that lucrative opportunities beckon later in the year. The Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf is one obvious target, but there is also a very valuable fillies race in Japan just a few days later.
Sariska's trainer, Michael Bell, to his credit, emphasised that the winner was a proven Group One operator in her own right. "It's not the end of the world," he said. "All credit to the winner, she's an older, stronger horse. On easier ground, she could play to her strengths more. When conditions are right, she's a beast."
Gosden had saddled the impressive Showcasing to win here the previous afternoon, but that colt's juvenile course record lasted barely 24 hours, Lady Of The Desert emulating her dam, Queen's Logic, by winning the Lowther in runaway fashion. She hurtled three lengths clear of Beyond Desire, earning a quote of 10-1 from Totesport for the Stan James 1,000 Guineas. Brian Meehan, her trainer, believes that a relaxed disposition will enable her to last a mile, but for now will keep her to six furlongs in the Cheveley Park Stakes.
Ryan Moore will miss a series of big races after earning an eight-day suspension, starting on 3 September, for careless riding in the opener, when a manoeuvre near the line caused Neil Callan to be unseated. At least his employer, Sir Michael Stoute, will not have far to seek for a replacement: Kieren Fallon ends his exile the very next day.
Turf account: Chris McGrath
Black Snowflake (Salisbury 6.25) Steps into Listed company after a remarkable performance in a nursery at Goodwood last time, losing his position at a critical stage but recovering to get up on the line without ever feeling the whip.
Elliptical (3.50 Sandown) Picked up impressively when pulling his nearest rival four lengths clear in a dash to the line at Salisbury last time. The three who had followed him home in a Goodwood maiden meanwhile went on to win next time out.
One to watch
Winchester Red (Evan Williams) His new rating will clearly not prove beyond him, judged on the way this rapidly improving chaser had the race sewn up when falling at the last at Southwell on Sunday.
Where the money's going
Dar Re Mi is 7-1 with Coral for the Filly & Mare Turf at the Breeders' Cup following her success at York yesterday.