Immortal shock for Goldikova
Connections of Goldikova refused to make excuses after the brilliant mare was forced to play second fiddle to exciting youngster Immortal Verse in the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville yesterday.
Freddie Head's Goldikova was bidding for a remarkable 15th career victory at Group or Grade One level, and looking to atone for an odds-on reverse in this straight mile contest 12 months ago.
Despite the testing conditions not being in her favour, all appeared to be going swimmingly for Olivier Peslier's mount, with the six-year-old travelling kindly in behind the leaders.
Once pulled out to challenge, Goldikova swept past those in front of her with relative ease, but the danger was to come from her left on the near rail.
Gerald Mosse sat last in the early stages on the Coronation Stakes heroine Immortal Verse, a filly three years younger than her esteemed rival and in receipt of 7lbs.
She made eye-catching headway towards the stands side and once Mosse pushed the button, the Robert Collet-trained filly quickened up in quite brilliant style to put the race to bed.
Goldikova and Sahpresa tried their best to come back at the leader as the line approached, but Immortal Verse was much too strong on the day.
A return to Churchill Downs and a bid for a remarkable fourth straight victory in the Breeders' Cup Mile is top of Goldikova's agenda, but she is likely to have one more run in France beforehand.
Pierre-Yves Bureau, racing manager to owners the Wertheimer Brothers, said: "First of all we must say 'well done' to the winner. Immortal Verse won well in the Coronation Stakes at Ascot and is a very good, fresh, three-year-old filly.
"There's not a lot to say about Goldikova. She was beaten by a very good filly and it's hard to find excuses. She seemed okay and we'll see her again."
Neither Richard Hannon's Dick Turpin or Cityscape from the Roger Charlton yard managed to trouble the principals, coming home seventh and eighth respectively.
Although out of luck with the stable star, Head, Peslier and the Wertheimers did strike with her half-sister Galikova in the Group Two Prix Guillaume D'Ornano in the previous race on the Deauville card.
The three-year-old was bidding to exact revenge on Andre Fabre's Golden Lilac, which was a narrow victor when the pair met in the French Oaks at Chantilly.
The latter looked set to confirm the form rounding the turn for home as she appeared to be travelling within herself, but could not pick up when it mattered.
Peslier stuck wide on Galikova and, while the response was not totally immediate, when he asked for maximum effort his mount eventually found top gear and picked up her pacemaker Slow Pace to score decisively.