Sixteen days after her contentious defeat of Sky Lantern in the Falmouth Stakes, and 10 days after connections of the runner-up failed in a protracted appeal, Elusive Kate was an emphatic winner of the Prix Rothschild at Deauville. It was her fourth win in five visits to the elegant Normandy resort, including the equivalent race last year. If only all racehorses obliged their owners and trainers to share such congenial prejudices.
Having said that, the weather in France proved pretty vile and John Gosden chose wisely in instead surfacing under a Panama hat at Ascot, where he followed proceedings on television. The champion trainer watched approvingly as William Buick controlled the pace, in deteriorating conditions, before opening up by two and a half lengths from Duntle. Elusive Kate did briefly drift left, as usual, but this time was able to claim the rail before causing any undue interference.
Gosden indicated that the filly would remain in the company of her own sex in the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown, rather than take on the colts back at Deauville in the Prix Jacques le Marois – in which she finished third last year. He added that another accomplished filly in his care, The Fugue, is back in top fettle after the break she required when badly off colour in the Eclipse. She could go for the Yorkshire Oaks or stay at 10 furlongs for the Prix Jean Romanet, later in the Deauville programme.
Yesterday’s success was a timely tonic for Buick, who had been unable to commit to Novellist when approached last week for the mount in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot on Saturday. In the event the German raider shattered the course record for a five-length success under Johnny Murtagh, extending his vintage run of form since being granted a training licence in May.
Murtagh was leading jockey at the royal meeting, and has since been credited with masterly rides to win Group One prizes on Ambivalent and Chicquita. These unfettered displays can scarcely be counted a coincidence, with riding nowadays offering Murtagh an outlet rather than a focus for his professional cares. Unfortunately it appears that his new partnership with Novellist is menaced by a German rule prohibiting jockeys from riding while holding a training licence. Andreas Wöhler, his trainer, would prefer to keep the horse on home soil for his Arc rehearsal, in the Grosser Preis von Baden, rather than send him on reconnaissance round Longchamp in the Prix Foy.
Regardless, a second consecutive King George winner for Germany should concentrate even minds as myopic as those that vest so much in the precocity and speed shown by future stallions on the racecourse. While the German racing industry seems perennially mired in crisis, the robust principles of its breeding wing – which insist on a sound constitution, and cherish stamina – remain exemplary.
CHRIS MCGRATH’S NAP: Toughness Danon (4.45 Wolver’pton)
Not as hearty as his name implies but shaped much better last time on what was only his second start for his latest trainer.
NEXT BEST: Pure Mischief (3.15 Wolverhampton)
Enters handicaps on a tempting mark for such a well bred filly.
ONE TO WATCH: Cosseted (James Fanshawe) looks one for middle-distance handicaps after another strong finish over a mile for third at Doncaster last week.
WHERE THE MONEY’S GOING: Aljamaaheer is 2-1 from 9-4 with the sponsors for the Bet365 Lennox Stakes on the opening card of Glorious Goodwood tomorrow, while Fencing is 5-1 from 6-1.