The expected clash of the superpowers, represented by the youthful female forms of Coolmore's Lillie Langtry and Godolphin's Long Lashes, in yesterday's Moyglare Stud Stakes came to nothing as the pair were thoroughly upstaged by 16-1 shot Termagant in testing conditions at the Curragh. And if money on the track said the Kevin Prendergast-trained filly was an unlikely winner, that on Betfair shouted it as she drifted from 10 to a high of 50 in pre-race trading on the exchange.
Happily, horses have no knowledge of human expectations and although Termagant was taking a massive step up in class, from a maiden victory to a Group One contest, she completed the transition in style. Always travelling comfortably for Declan McDonogh, she ranged alongside the Ballydoyle long shot Famous, who had set the pace for the 8-11 favourite Lillie Langtry, before the last of the seven furlongs and strode away for a two and a half length success.
To her credit, Famous, at 66-1, kept going for second, coping with the heavy Co Kildare ground as well as her celebrated older brother Mastercraftsman did when taking his local 2,000 Guineas. Lillie Langtry plugged on for third place, with Long Lashes fourth; both fillies were treading mud before the final furlong.
Results in extreme conditions can often be misleading and bookmakers have generally taken the view Lillie Langtry should be given another chance. The daughter of Danehill Dancer remains towards the head of the betting for next year's 1,000 Guineas.
Termagant has been introduced into the market for the Newmarket Classic, but at this stage is unlikely to run and perhaps her unflattering name is a clue as to why. "I'm not sure she'd have the temperament to take the travelling that well," Prendergast, said, "so the plan will be to come back in the spring for the Guineas here. She may have been a long price but her win wasn't a real surprise to us as she's always shown a great deal. We were a little bit concerned about the ground but she's done a good job and I should think that will be it for the season."
The filly cost just €34,000 (£29,900) as a yearling and her shrewd trainer is charting a similar route to the top level with another bargain maiden winner, the €36,000 colt Kingsfort, heading for the National Stakes at the Curragh on Saturday week. "I bought them within an hour of each other," added Prendergast, "and he'll have a shot at the big guns as well. And I can tell you I like him a lot."
In the Group Three six-furlong contest, Arctic made it three from three with an eased-down defeat of Ballydoyle's Air Chief Marshall, a performance that prompted Ladbrokes to cut him to 16-1 for the 2,000 Guineas, half the price of their rivals. "We won't be afraid of going anywhere after that," said trainer Tracey Collins. "Though the winter can be a long time, he's going to be something to dream about."
Half an hour later Chinese White, trained by Dermot Weld, bounced back to her best with an easy success in the Dance Design Stakes and shortly afterwards Jukebox Jury became the third grey feature-race winner of the afternoon when holding on by a nose in Normandy to take the Grand Prix de Deauville for Mark Johnston.
It was a roller-coaster weekend for Godolphin. Though Long Lashes failed in Ireland and Donativum in France yesterday, there were eight wins for the Blues in three days, headed by Delegator's sparkling effort in the Celebration Mile at Goodwood on Saturday and including one at the top level for Music Note at Saratoga, New York.
Delegator's victory, which showed a top-class flashing change of gear, was franked at the earliest opportunity when third-placed Ordnance Row returned to the Sussex track yesterday none the worse for his exertions to gain his revenge with a defeat of the Godolphin colourbearer Asset.
And just as Delegator, runner-up to Sea The Stars in the 2,000 Guineas, became the latest to pay a compliment to Europe's top three-year-old, Summer Bird flew the flag for the best of the Classic generation in the States, Rachel Alexandra, with his decisive success in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga on Saturday night. The Belmont Stakes winner splashed through sloppy mud in sprightly fashion to take the 10-furlong Grade One, but had earlier in the month suffered a six-length trouncing by the wonder filly.
The performance made Summer Bird the leading home contender for the Breeders' Cup Classic in California in October. Sea The Stars is favourite for the Santa Anita sand-surface showpiece.
Turf account Sue Montgomery
Layali Al Andalus (4.00 Newcastle)
Imposing son of Halling who got off the mark by seven lengths over seven furlongs and is bred to appreciate further. Holds a host of fancy entries and could be a cut above today's rivals.
Golden Button (5.30 Epsom)
Handicap debutante who seems sure to improve from her victory at Wolverhampton 10 days ago and looks on a fair mark for the in-form Sir Mark Prescott yard.
One to watch
Elliptical (G A Butler) was outpaced at Newmarket when the tempo quickened on his first try over as short as seven furlongs, but stayed on at the death and a rise in the weights should not anchor him back over further.
Where the money's going
Exceptional Art has been cut to 16-1 from 25-1 for the Ayr Gold Cup by Paddy Power.
Chris McGrath's Nap
Fol Hollow (3.10 Epsom).