The Fugue breaks course record
A crowd of 40,459 was on hand Wednesday for day two of Royal Ascot, up from the 38,758 last year probably due in part to the participation of Treve in the Group 1 Prince of Wales's Stakes.
Three fillies entered against five males in the race but, instead of the French superstar schooling her rivals, Lord Lloyd-Webber's The Fugue stepped up to win in thrilling style when breaking the Ascot 10-furlong course record in 2:01.90. The previous record of 2:02.52 was achieved by Cirrus des Aigles in the 2011 Champion Stakes.
"We did genuinely think that we were going to let her have a stroll round the park," Lord Lloyd-Webber remarked. "Nobody believed that she would quite do this but it's the best racing day in our whole racing career."
"She so deserves this. It hasn't gone her way sometimes and this is a very big stage to do it at," Lady Lloyd-Webber added. "Andrew has never seen her win -- he is the kiss of death -- and I hoped that he would have a cold today and not come! The Fugue has got her recognition as one of the best horses in Europe."
Sent off the 11-2 second favorite after attracting support, The Fugue bounced back from a latest below-par showing when down the field in Meydan's Dubai Duty Free on March 29 in her season opener. The homebred bay daughter of Dansili was always traveling with ease behind the leading quartet in the Prince of Wales's and, after cruising to Magician with a quarter-mile to race, was set alight soon after by William Buick to stamp her authority on proceedings.
The Fugue scored by 1 3/4 lengths over Magician, with odds-on favorite Treve another length away.
Buick was recording his first victory of the Royal meeting with The Fugue's smooth success.
"She has been an absolute star for me and everybody back in the yard," Buick said. "She proved today what she can do against top-class horses but I must say a huge thank you to everyone back at Clarehevan for getting this filly here today -- Gary Foster rides her every day, Emily looks after her very well and obviously beautifully trained by John.
"When she gets a clear, uncomplicated run like she did today without any bother and they come back to her, she's lethal. It means everything to everyone involved. It was a great performance and she has been going well at home. She was very good.
"The vibes were very good going into the race. We were fully aware of Treve and what she achieved but you have to believe in your own horse in these races and we had a lot of faith in her. You can't become clouded because of one horse and we had confidence," he added. "She always tries her best and I'm pleased that she has won this for herself."
Trainer John Gosden was welcoming in the big-race winner for the second day running at Royal Ascot after Kingman's victory in the St James's Palace Stakes on Tuesday.
"It's lovely to win the two big races. I actually walked down with the Princess Royal and said there's something interesting about this race -- it's all about girl power with Treve and this filly," Gosden said.
"It didn't work, the trip to Dubai and training in the winter, but The Fugue has come back. She was like a little bud -- she went tight but now she has flowered and she looked great. She won best turned out and I thought that was a curse.
"(The Fugue) remains a brave, lovely filly and they are super owner-breeders. They don't have many horses in training and, to have a filly of this quality who can beat the colts, is what this game is all about."
Following a third in last year's Prince of Wales's, The Fugue went on to finish seventh in the Eclipse and capture both the Yorkshire Oaks and Irish Champion. She closed out 2013 with a pair of seconds in the Breeders' Cup Turf and Hong Kong Vase.
"Now we can go for the Nassau (at Glorious Goodwood) and we could go for the Eclipse (Sandown next month) which comes close but she did not have the hardest of races today and William was under the strictest instructions, not that he needed to be told, that he could flick her -- no more than that. She is a filly who will give you all without asking," Gosden said in regards to what's next for The Fugue. "You look at those two races and hope that we have summer weather. The Fugue doesn't like soft ground, with her little feet like a ballerina, so if it's soft we don't run.
"The Fugue was in top order today -- we didn't have to stop the ferries, the planes and the ports!" he added. "Full credit to Treve -- it was marvelous of them bring her here. I think she is unbeatable over a mile and a half with cut in the ground in the autumn and we would not go near her then. But I thought we had half a chance if we met Treve on good to firm ground over a mile and a quarter in midsummer."
Trainer Criquette Head-Maarek and jockey Frankie Dettori were mystified by Treve's defeat, the second time she has been beaten this season, although a bid for next month's King George VI & Queen Elizabeth II Stakes could still be on the filly's agenda according to her trainer.
Dettori said he felt Treve's action was suspect.
"She went down (to the start) really, really bad -- maybe it was the ground?" the jockey commented. "I was never comfortable. I was following The Fugue, but struggling to keep up with her. I was never in my comfort zone."
"Frankie didn't think her action was right and she didn't look right going to the start," Head-Maarek remarked. "He didn't think the ground was a problem, but he did feel the longer distance would suit her better. Her action was not right, but I don't know why. Maybe we will discover something when we get home.
"She's not blowing at all, and a horse that is sick blows hard after a race like that. She came with a run but could not push. She was fine the other day when she worked, but the things you ask a horse to do in the morning are not the same as the things you ask them to do in the afternoon at the races.
"Horses are not easy and it's our job to find out what's wrong. I had problem with her feet not long ago, but it seemed as though everything was fine again. We'll have to see.
"Let's take her home to Chantilly (on Thursday) and see how she is -- and don't forget the winner today is a good filly, too."
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