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French hopes on royal high after Sarafina tour de force

The French are expecting big things at Royal Ascot this week – not least through Goldikova and Makfi tomorrow – and will leave home soil emboldened by a breakthrough yesterday for another new star. Though not yet two months into her career, Sarafina is now an unbeaten Classic winner after leading a one-two for her trainer and owner in the Prix de Diane, the French Oaks, at Chantilly.

She quickened decisively in the straight to see off her stablemate, Rosanara, and so become the sixth filly to win this race for Alain de Royer-Dupré and the Aga Khan. "I am often asked when I will produce a great colt," the owner said. "But it's the great fillies that are more important for the stability and future of my stud. And that is what is important to me."

De Royer-Dupré, meanwhile, indicated that while Rosanara will step up in trip for the Prix Vermeille, Sarafina will continue to be "nurtured" over 10 furlongs. Even so, Ladbrokes were among those to introduce Sarafina into the Arc reckoning, at 12-1.

Rachel Alexandra, favoured over Zenyatta in a contentious duel for US Horse of the Year, was another filly to star over the weekend, erasing two shock blow-outs this spring with a 10-length success at Churchill Downs.