The Fugue streaks in as 'puzzling' Treve fails to land blow
Trainer Criquette Head-Maarek will explore all veterinary avenues in an exhaustive attempt to find a reason for Treve's disappointing third in the Prince Of Wales's Stakes, which left the second day Royal Ascot crowd of 40,459 deflated and poorer for the experience.
"She was never in the comfort zone," reported jockey Frankie Dettori.
A scratchy action when moving to post was the first indication that all was not right with last year's brilliant Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner and once the race commenced, it became obvious she was going to struggle against such a strong field.
Taken wide by Dettori at the top of the home straight, Treve made steady ground, but she never appeared comfortable at any stage and hung under pressure. She was beaten one-and-a-half lengths and a length into third place behind The Fugue, with her sheer class responsible for finishing as close as she did.
Dettori advised connections to step Treve back up to a mile and a half, but clearly the performance had left him baffled. "She went down really, really bad – maybe it was the ground. I was never comfortable. I was following The Fugue but struggling to keep up with her," he said.
Head-Maarek was again philosophical at the defeat of a filly who looked a world-beater in France last season. In fairness, her first defeat this year, by Cirrus Des Aigles in the Prix Ganay, was gallant in the extreme, but yesterday there was something puzzling about her performance and the trainer is determined to get to the core of the problem, saying: "Her action was not right, but I don't know why.
"Maybe we will discover something when we get home. Horses are not easy, and it is our job to find out what's wrong. I had a problem with her feet not that long ago, but it seemed as though everything was fine again. We'll have to see.
"She's not blowing at all and a horse who is sick blows hard after a race like that."
Andrew Lloyd-Webber's The Fugue, trained by John Gosden, set a course record of 2 mins 1.9s for the mile and a quarter. The five-year-old looked the finished article as she strode away for her first Royal Ascot win at the third attempt. She had been placed in the Ribblesdale Stakes and also last year's Prince Of Wales's Stakes, so her triumph was well deserved.
Jockey William Buick was impressed. "When she gets a clear, uncomplicated run, like she did today, without any bother, and they come back to her, she is lethal," he explained.
"Her performances in the past, even since she won her maiden, have been at the very top level. She always fights, and the race today was a nice even pace. She got a smooth run through and she has stayed on well."
Gosden deserves credit for the way he has developed The Fugue into a top class Group One horse.
She had been unlucky to come up against Magician in unbeatable form in the Breeders' Cup Turf at Santa Anita, and then got struck in a traffic jam during the Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin in December.
The trainer has been at his persuasive best to get another season out of a potential broodmare, who is now virtually priceless.
Meanwhile, Sole Power is to miss Saturday's Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot following his brilliant display in the King's Stand on Tuesday.
The Eddie Lynam-trained seven-year-old clinched the five-furlong Group One for the second successive year with a blistering turn of foot in the hands of Richard Hughes, and it was suggested afterwards he could bid for the big sprint double.
However, a change of heart on the back of a hard race means Sole Power is now set to head straight for the July Cup at Newmarket, a race in which he finished fifth last summer.
Lynam still has a major contender for the Diamond Jubilee in stable companion Slade Power, who made an impressive return in the Greenlands Stakes at the Curragh last month.
He said of Sole Power: "He doesn't run. He's in great form but a bit tired.
"We'll think about Newmarket."