Mikel Dezangles added a second Classic to his resumé as Flotilla benefited from a strong front-end pace to land the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches, catching the heavily favoured Esoterique in the shadows of the post.
Not seen on a racetrack since her victory in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, Flotilla seemingly lacked respect from the French betting public, whom sent her off as an unfancied 13-1 shot on the PMU. However, in a style equal to her late-rattling performance at Santa Anita six months ago, Christophe Lemaire and Flotilla surged past their rivals, taking the Andre Fabre-trained Esoterique in their sights, and powering towards the wire for a half length success.
For the Breeders' Cup and the aim in billing their event as a world championship, Flotilla's victory produced the second European Classic victory in as many weeks from the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf after Sky Lantern, whom finished eighth at the Breeders Cup, powered to victory in the English 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket last Sunday.
For Dezangles and Lemaire, the English 1,000 Guineas would provide a disappointing day for the team, whom had high hopes of Classic glory with their star filly, What A Name. However, it was Flotilla, from the same ownership, who would provide the team with their belated second Classic glory.
"She still had plenty of petrol coming into the straight" said Lemaire, "I followed Esoterique who was obviously going well but I was going really well too. Just like in the Breeders Cup, she went after the win, which takes a lot of class against a horse which has had the benefit of a run."
A filly who has continued to indicate that further improvement may be forthcoming with a further increase in distance, the Prix de Diane, run at Chantilly on 16th June now looks the logical next step for the three year old daughter of Mizzen Mast as opposed to a rematch with her Breeders Cup rival, Sky Lantern, at Royal Ascot in the Coronation Stakes over a round mile.
For Esoterique, today would be the day that the three year old daughter of Danehill Dancer would see her unbeaten record broken. Under Maxime Guyon, Esoterique powered to the front, taking many lengths out of her rivals in a move that looked sure to gain Fabre and Guyon renewed Classic glory. Whilst the dethroning of Esoterique by Flotilla has temporarily relegated the Fabre filly from the top spot in her division, it would be expected and anticipated that this will not be the last we have heard from Esoterique.
A mouthwatering rematch between Esoterique and Flotilla looks assured in the Prix de Diane, a race which now bears the hallmarks, with increased regularity, of being the crème de la crème of three year old filly contests.
In the colts division, the Poule d'Essai des Poulains was won in taking style by Style Vendrome for Messrs Clement and Thuillez. A colt who rejected the option of facing Dawn Approach in the English version of the Classic last weekend, Style Vendrome reaped the rewards of facing his own compatriots, weaving through horses late to assure victory by a narrow neck victory.
A race full of late-thrusting runs, Style Vendrome won the war, yet the performances of Havana Gold and, notably, the Wertheimer and Frere-owned, Intello, are two to note for the future as well as the winner. Intello, last seen at the Newmarket Craven meeting when readily accounting for his rivals in the Feilden Stakes, was increasingly unlucky after getting trapped behind a wall of horses as his own pacemaker blocked him into a pocket. As Maxime Guyon finally found a gap between the pacemaker and the poorly-performing Olympic Glory, the son of Galileo flew towards the leaders, narrowly defeated despite being in front a stride after the wire.
The Prix du Jockey Club, a race over a mile and a quarter which had been mentioned for Intello are success in the Feilden, is a race which looks very much at the colts mercy in this division.
For Style Vendrome, Royal Ascot is now in the agenda and a run in the St James' Palace Stakes over the round mile. With Dawn Approach seemingly skipping this race in favour of a run in e Epsom Derby, the French colt would look to go into the race as the favoured charge.
"It was the horse that made the difference today, I was a little worried that Thierry had got there too soon" said winning trainer, Clement, "He was very brave and the logical next step is the St James' Palace Stakes but we will have to think about the French Derby."