For no very obvious reason, the past 18 months or so have become remarkable for the collective endeavours of some outstanding fillies. At Deauville yesterday Goldikova produced perhaps the most arresting performance of her career to win her sixth Group One prize, in the process she embroidered a brilliant pageant of female success either side of the Atlantic, already featuring Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta, in the United States; Stacelita and Sariska, dominating the European three-year-olds of their sex; and of course Zarkava, who last year became the first filly of that age to win the Arc since 1982.
What a pity that Zarkava was promptly retired after that solitary meeting with the colts. The suggestion that she had nothing else to prove was soon placed in perspective by Goldikova herself, who proceeded to pulverise her rivals for the Breeders' Cup Mile in California – and was, moreover, then kept in training. A disappointing performance on her reappearance at Longchamp in May implied that her connections' sense of adventure might not find its due reward. Step by step, however, she has retrieved all the old élan – initially at the expense of fillies, in races at Newmarket and Deauville, and now in the Prix Jacques le Marois.
Her only blemish yesterday was a reluctance to enter the stalls, but once under way she was soon travelling so exuberantly that Olivier Peslier sent her past her struggling pacemaker soon after halfway. Already all bar Aqlaam were beginning to toil, and she soon stemmed his challenge, too, albeit he excelled in pulling five lengths clear of Virtual, with previous Group One winners well beaten off in Silver Frost, Gladiatorus and Never On Sunday. Goldikova had meanwhile hurtled six lengths clear, however, sparking over the fast ground in a record time.
Freddie Head, her trainer, exalted his "unbelievable" filly above even Miesque, the champion he rode to consecutive wins in the Breeders' Cup Mile – an achievement that now inexorably beckons Goldikova. "I would say she is better than Miesque, as she is better in her head, and Miesque used to pull very hard," he said. "Marchand D'Or is a champion [too] but this has to be the very best I have trained – she is something else. My other runner didn't have enough gas to make the pace, so she had to come early, but she can do anything. She has never liked the stalls since the beginning, and is a little bit naughty at them, but that is her only bad point."
With the Breeders' Cup a week later this time round, Head is disposed to alter her route to California, favouring a drop to seven furlongs for the Prix de la Forêt, during Arc weekend, instead of the Prix du Moulin. "It will be hard for her to keep her form," he reasoned. "I want to give her a little rest, and the Forêt fits in well before the Breeders' Cup. She might make it look easy, but she has still had a race today."
John Gosden, trainer of Virtual, always weighs his words and went so far as to describe the winner as "the best in the world". Admittedly, that encomium might not survive the first day of the Ebor meeting at York tomorrow, even if Sea The Stars faces just four rivals for the Juddmonte International Stakes.
In the absence of the forecast rain the going remains on the fast side and so spared his trainer, John Oxx, any indecision yesterday when it came to declaring his dual Classic winner. Sea The Stars is opposed by Tartan Bearer, returning to the scene of his success in the Dante last year, and three from Ballydoyle – two of them out of their depth and presumably declared to guarantee a suitable pace for Mastercraftsman. It is hard to believe that the latter, on his first start beyond a mile, will be able to upset Sea The Stars, but he is an obstinate animal whose attentions may well consume some of the favourite's reserves prior to his proposed rematch with Fame And Glory at Leopardstown in the Tattersalls Millions Irish Champion Stakes on 5 September. Casual Conquest may head there after a comfortable Group Two success at the Curragh yesterday.
Turf account: Chris McGrath
Prescription (3.15 Wolverhampton) Looks thrown in with a penalty for her impressive win at Lingfield and can confirm she is better than a handicapper for a stable in rampant form.
Speed Dating (8.05 Windsor) Can complete a double for connections of Prescription. Was six lengths clear of the second at Carlisle last time, off the bridle early but soon in command. Up 7lb here on faster ground and a tighter track but the longer trip will help.
One to watch
Little Firecracker (T Vaughan) Looks the latest to be transformed by her new trainer. Recovered smoothly after a bad mistake at Newton Abbot before tiring. Will be winning soon, perhaps when back over two miles.
Where the money's going
Gile Na Greine, a full-sister to this year's runner-up Cuis Ghaire, was introduced at 25-1 by the sponsors for the Stan James 1,000 Guineas after making a winning debut for Jim Bolger at the Curragh yesterday.