Ihtimal finishes third as Bin Suroor concedes one-mile distance does not suit filly
Miss France shows her class in English 1,000 Guineas victory
Newmarket, England // Ihtimal failed in her bid under Silvestre de Sousa to add the English 1,000 Guineas to her haul of UAE Classics on Sunday, but trainer Saeed bin Suroor remains upbeat that she can add the English Oaks to the two wins she recorded at the Dubai World Cup Carnival.
Ultimately, Maxime Guyon and Miss France had too much guts, too many gears and too much class across the Rowley Mile for Ihtimal, who was worn down approaching the finishing post to eventually concede the runner-up spot to the fast-finishing Lightning Thunder, ridden with aplomb by Harry Bentley.
Whereas at Meydan Racecourse in the UAE 1,000 Guineas and in the UAE Oaks Ihtimal was against small fields of unproven fillies, here in the first fillies’ Classic of the European turf season she faced 16 rivals, 10 of which had already struck at Listed level at the least.
Ihtimal is by Shamardal, the French Derby winner, and Bin Suroor said that the 2,400-metre distance of the Oaks next month was the logical target and she will head straight to Epsom.
“She ran a good race, but a mile and a half is the best trip for her. She has come to win her race and was staying on well, but the winner is a miler,” the Emirati trainer said.
“She has worked well, she came here ready to run her race.”
Ihtimal completes a strong Epsom team for Bin Suroor, who also revealed that Keiren Fallon would ride True Story, his Derby hope, in the Dante Stakes at York next week.
For Andre Fabre and Guyon, who respectively train and ride for Godolphin France, it was a double on the card after they struck earlier in the afternoon on Esoterique in the Dahlia Stakes.
Fabre is an infrequent visitor to Britain, but when he does he rarely leaves empty-handed and the perennial champion trainer in France has now completed the set of British Classics, which include the 2,000 Guineas, Derby and St Leger.
Miss France had run poorly in the Prix Impudence at Maisons-Laffitte on her first start of the season a month ago, but Fabre was ready to tell anybody who asked in the lead-up to the race that her defeat was because of the lack of pace.
It could have happened again yesterday. As the gates opened, Manderley took the 17 runners along under Pat Dobbs.
A rank outsider, Manderley could not sustain even the moderate pace he had set and 600m from the finish he began to fall away.
Guyon was smart enough to keep his mount in the vanguard as the pack galloped as one down the centre of the course and, as Manderley began to falter, Guyon was ready to go for home. De Sousa was quick to respond and the two jockeys quickly settled down to fight out the finish.
“I have been confident for 10 days after she worked really brilliantly,” Fabre said.
“I was worried that she was too close to the pace as the plan was to come from behind – she can idle if she is out in front for too long.
“I don’t give many instructions to jockeys, so thank God Maxime didn’t listen to me.”
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