Friday 24 October 2014

The Fugue gatecrashes Treve's party

Published 18/06/2014 | 17:58

The Fugue and William Buick celebrate their victory in the Prince of Wales´s Stakes during Day Two of the 2014 Royal Ascot Meeting at Ascot Racecourse
The Fugue and William Buick celebrate their victory in the Prince of Wales´s Stakes during Day Two of the 2014 Royal Ascot Meeting at Ascot Racecourse

She was not the lady most expected to be winning the Prince of Wales's Stakes but The Fugue gave another reminder of how she must never be underestimated after receiving a Royal Ascot coronation in a record-breaking time.

Treve failed to live up to her position as the 8-13 favourite and at present is not the same filly that shone so memorably in last year's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, with Criquette Head-Maarek and Frankie Dettori convinced something was amiss with the eventual third.

Instead it was yet another accolade from what has become the season of John Gosden, who raised The Fugue (11-2) from the depths of a poor run in the Dubai Duty Free to lift what will be one of the year's strongest Group One events by a length and three-quarters.

Lord and Lady Lloyd Webber's mare has previous for gatecrashing, as she stunned supporters of Al Kazeem in the Irish Champion Stakes and was by no means undeserving of this prize as there are a number of unfortunate defeats at the highest level in her life story.

William Buick was relaxed enough to allow Mukhadram's pacemaker Elkaayed to set a furious pace as The Fugue took him effortlessly into contention with two furlongs left and connections even believed she had not even taken much out of herself by shrugging off Magician.

"The interesting thing about this race was that it was all about girl power, with Treve and this filly," said Gosden, who had already won Tuesday's showpiece event, the St James's Palace Stakes.

"It didn't work, the trip to Dubai. We trained her in the winter and she was like a little bud that went tight, but now she's flowered and she looks great.

"She got knocked over in the Oaks (two years ago), she got absolutely creamed and should have won, but she remains a very brave, lovely filly.

"Treve is a wondrous filly and I would not want to take on Treve on soft ground over a mile and a half in the Arc - I wouldn't want to go near her, I think she's unbeatable.

"But today was summer racing, a mile and a quarter on good to firm ground, and that's the difference."

Gosden had been preparing The Fugue for the Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh on June 29 but had become worried about the forecast.

"She has little feet like a ballerina and doesn't like soft ground, so if it's soft we don't run," he said.

"We can go for the Nassau and we might look at the Eclipse. It comes up quite close but she didn't have the hardest race today."

The question was what to make of Treve, who failed to recreate her dazzling acceleration from last autumn, or perhaps even her respectable second to Cirrus Des Aigles on her reappearance at Longchamp.

Dettori said: "Going to the start she didn't feel like Treve and at the back of my mind I knew then I was in trouble.

"I was hoping in the race she would loosen up and warm up, but I knew my fate at the three-furlong marker.

"She ran a good third, but it's not the Treve we all know. Something is definitely wrong and what's wrong was before the race.

"Full credit to Sheikh Joaan and Criquette. They brought her to Royal Ascot and unfortunately it didn't happen.

"Now it's back to the drawing board, I suspect a summer break and back for the Arc, which she won last year. It's not all bad. We just have to regroup, that's all."

Head-Maarek said: "She didn't extend herself like she does usually and I'm going to put her in a longer-distance race where they will go slower and maybe it will be easier.

"With fillies from three to four they change and you never know what can happen.

"She won the Prix de Diane when the ground was very fast and it's not the ground, it's her action. I had a problem with her feet last year and that is why she couldn't run before she won the Prix de Diane.

"Maybe I'll find something was wrong. With the travelling, you never know what can happen with horses.

"We lost the battle. We haven't lost the war. Today is June 18 - Waterloo - so the French were beat!"

Musical impresario Lloyd Webber was witnessing The Fugue win in person for the first time.

He said: "We did genuinely think we were going to let her have a stroll round the park!

"We didn't believe she would do this, but it's the best day in our whole racing career.

"She's had one or two dodgy days, but that can happen. Now she's proved she is the best in the world!"

Aidan O'Brien was delighted with the effort of the runner-up and a return to Ascot for next month's King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes could be on the agenda for Magician.

O'Brien said: "He ran a stormer. He loves fast ground and plenty of pace.

"That (King George) is absolutely an option, because we know he gets a mile and a half."

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