Even Royal Ascot could struggle against the chic of Chantilly on Prix de Diane day, and there may not be a more impressive winner this week than yesterday's latest heroine of France's premier contest for fillies. The 11-1 shot Treve ran right away from her rivals, headed by Chicquita and Silasol, to score by four lengths, settling the issue in a matter of strides as she quickened clear. Her victory under Thierry Jarnet was a welcome return to the top table for her trainer, Criquette Head-Maarek, whose most recent Group One success had been from Fuisse in the 2010 Prix du Moulin.
Treve, who carries the colours of Head-Maarek's family breeding operation, Haras du Quesnay, is now unbeaten in three runs and, clearly sharply progressive, looks likely to be a most credible player in the autumn's top middle-distance contests. Five years ago the Diane winner Zarkava went on to take the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and Treve, who would have to be supplemented for the Longchamp showpiece, has been introduced as an 8-1 shot.
Yesterday was a massive step up in class for the daughter of Motivator, the 2005 Derby winner who now stands at Quesnay, but she justified Head-Maarek's faith in her ability by not only routing her opponents but doing so in track record time. "She was my best two-year-old last year," she said, "but every time I wanted to run her in good races small, niggly things happened to prevent it, so I said to myself, just wait. People thought I might be a bit crazy to run her in this race, but I knew she'd be OK."
Treve, who will now have a French-style summer break before the Prix Vermeille in September, is one to anticipate for the future.
More immediately, the first Royal Ascot encounter of the Guineas winners is on, with both Dawn Approach and Magician among the nine runners declared for tomorrow's St James's Palace Stakes. Dawn Approach, who took the 2,000 Guineas on the Rowley Mile, must bounce back from his disappointing last place in the Derby and Magician, the winner of the Irish version of the Classic at the Curragh, from a slight setback at the end of last week.
Their opposition includes Glory Awaits, who will be attempting to prove his Newmarket second place at 150-1 was no fluke, and the highly regarded Toronado, who faded from leading to fourth in the final furlong.
On Friday, the two 1,000 Guineas winners, Sky Lantern and Just The Judge, will face off in the Coronation Stakes.
CHRIS McGRATH'S NAP
Kitty Brown (7.05 Windsor)
Looked as if the step up to six furlongs would suit when she progressed from her debut to second in a maiden.
Shirocco Star (7.50 Warwick)
She failed to settle on her seasonal debut, but the run under her girth and ease in the ground can help last year's dual Oaks second add to her sole victory, in a juvenile maiden.
WHERE THE MONEY'S GOING
Stubbs has firmed to 11-4 favourite with Stan James for tomorrow's Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot.