Golden Lilac dominated the pre-race build up to the Group 1 Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket today with Andre Fabre comparing her to his greatest ever filly, Banks Hill. However, as Golden Lilac failed to fire in soft conditions as the heavily backed favourite, it was Alain de Royer-Dupre and Christophe Soumillon who reclaimed victory for France in the Falmouth Stakes trophy with Francois Doumen's raider, Siyooma, also impressing back in third place.
Photo: Emma-Louise Kerwin/Goodtosoft.co.uk
Having struggled with leg trouble at the beginning of her three year old campaign, Giofra has returned to the racetrack with renewed confidence as a four year old and substantial ability that connections have long believed she harboured. "We have known for a long time that she is a great filly. She ran very well twice this year and she was very fresh - she would very easily and was an easy second" stated Soumillon, "She goes on all ground so I was not concerned about that and we came here instead of the Eclipse last weekend to keep her against her own sex". Positioned at the back of the field through the first half of the race, Giofra cut through the pack heading into the final stages of a slowly run Falmouth Stakes and, despite the initial believe heading into the final few furlongs that many would struggle to land a blow with Elusive Kate seemingly drawing away, Giofra came alongside strongly as Elusive Kate began to look around on her first appearance on a racetrack for 252 days and just edged victory heading towards the shadows of the post. Connections believe that she will stay the twelve furlongs of a Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe and a test over ten furlongs at Glorious Goodwood looks to be the next test prior to any final decision on an Arc entry. For Elusive Kate it was a case of so close yet so far but connections were far from disheartened. Making her first appearance since a disappointing eighth-placed finish in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, Elusive Kate showed fantastic heart under a clever ride by Frankie Dettori who took three lengths out of the field with a shrewd moved coming into the final half of the race. Gosden was notably pleased with his filly's performance, "We were delighted with her - it was nice to get her back on track. She has always been a very good filly and I couldn't be more pleased with her". Starting out so late in her Classic season in a very weak division, it is entirely possible that Elusive Kate could dominate her division in the latter part of this year but Gosden looks to a return to France in the Prix Rothschild at Deauville or the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown as the next target for his promising filly. Andre Fabre was notably disappointed by Golden Lilac's ninth-placed finish stating that the ground did not play to her advantage. "This was her first bad race but the ground was probably a reason - that's racing" stated Fabre. A return to France and an entry in the Prix Rothschild at Deauville where she will likely face Elusive Kate looks like the probable next option for Fabre's charge who finished the final quarter of this race a full two seconds slower than the winner, Giofra. Speaking with John Gosden, he also confirmed that the ground also played a part with the underpar performance of Princess Haya's Joviality, who now looks to head towards Arlington for the Beverly D Stakes on the Arlington Million undercard as part of a strong Gosden raid.
Giofra may have reigned supreme for France on Friday but the performance of Elusive Kate during a purple patch for Team Gosden suggests that an exceptional talented and exciting three year old filly may be waiting in the wings to take control of her division. On a day where English 1000 Guineas heroine, Homecoming Queen, retired from racing, it is Elusive Kate who looks to take up the baton for her division and storm clear.
Photo Courtesy of Emma-Louise Kerwin (Goodtosoft.co.uk)