Buick defiant after controversial Elusive success
NEWMARKET'S July meeting proved something of a graveyard for Royal Ascot winners when the two fillies touted as being among the best of their generation – Sky Lantern and Rizeena – were both beaten; one controversially and the other comprehensively.
With just four runners, the Etihad Airways Falmouth Stakes was always likely to be messy by Group One standards and so it proved when William Buick rode a well-judged race from the front on Elusive Kate, one of the best juveniles of 2011.
In contrast to his ride in the 1,000 Guineas and Coronation Stakes, when he was able to pounce late from a long way back, Richard Hughes sat right on the leader's heels, but instead of picking up and flying as she had so impressively on the Rowley Mile and at Ascot, Sky Lantern could never quite get past Elusive Kate and was beaten a neck.
Her cause was certainly not helped by the winner carrying her left-handed almost the width of the track.
The stewards held an inquiry into the result, but the placings remained unaltered despite Hughes appearing to make a good case for his filly in the televised hearing, in which he said Buick's whip twice struck his mount in the face.
Buick was handed a three-day suspension for careless riding (July 26, 28 and 29), but the stewards found that he struck Sky Lantern across the nose only once and that it was accidental.
"I wish she hadn't hung because she was the best filly and she'd have shown it fair and square," said Buick.
"She did it a lot last season and prefers running along a rail on the left, but I thought she'd put it behind her this year. She was the best filly on the day and beat Sky Lantern, the best of her generation."
Hughes, however, was adamant that being carried across the course cost him the race. Connections of both fillies signalled their intention to head for the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown in September for a rematch.
Rizeena, which had looked so good in the Queen Mary, did not quite turn up for the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes with her Royal Ascot form.
She was made to look almost ordinary by the George Margarson-trained Lucky Kristale, a 20/1 shot, which squeezed through a gap and went away to beat her by two-and-a-quarter lengths, with three-quarters back to the well regarded Queen Catrine.
"I left her a bit undercooked for Ascot. She was working with some moderate horses, galloping all over them and enjoying it," said Margarson. "But since Ascot I've been working her with some of my big boys and it has helped her mentally and physically. If you stopped the replay of the Albany Stakes at Ascot a furlong out you'd have called her the winner.
"I know why she started at 20/1 today – because I train her – but I have no issues with that. I don't take it personally but I'm looking forward to next spring (1,000 Guineas) already."
Richard Fahey's Heaven's Guest just pipped Bryan Smart's Moviesta in the Betfred The Bonus King Stakes. Fahey also saddled the third home, Rene Mathis.
The Stewards' Cup at Goodwood could be next on the agenda for Heaven's Guest. (© Daily Telegraph, London)