Lloyd-Webber's The Fugue hits perfect note in Oaks audition
AS auditions go, Lord and Lady Lloyd-Webber might consider they do not come much better than yesterday's Musidora Stakes, which was won in striking style by their homebred filly The Fugue.
Trained by John Gosden, she can play a leading role in the Oaks on June 1, for which she is a best-priced 5/1. Corals were so impressed they made her the 7/2 favourite ahead of Maybe, who finished just in front of her in the Guineas.
In one of the few trials run on decent ground this year -- and therefore probably the most meaningful -- The Fugue made mincemeat of the well-backed Aidan O'Brien-trained runner-up Twirl.
William Buick was able to sit motionless beside the industrious Joseph O'Brien, metaphorically laughing at him, before unleashing The Fugue (15/8) with a furlong to run. She soon stretched clear to win by over four lengths.
"For her to get the ground that she wants made all the difference," said Gosden. "She's a super filly with an easy action and dainty feet. It was too soft for her at Newmarket and asking her to go on the soft is like asking Margot Fonteyn to dance in deep sand. All being well she'll go to the Oaks, though she'd go to France if it was soft at Epsom.
"We don't normally run in the Guineas and then come here 10 days later but we wanted to see if she was good enough for Epsom. Her mother was beaten a nose in the Ribblesdale and stayed well, so she should get a mile and a half."
Afterwards Lady Lloyd-Webber tried to enlighten the assembled media as to the definition of a fugue. "It's a very complicated piece of music," she said. "I asked Andrew to explain what it is in one sentence and he was still going three paragraphs later. It's a musical puzzle."
Gosden and Buick were completing a double as they were also on the mark with George Strawbridge's Gatewood (13/2) in the Infinity Tyres Stakes.
There was a dramatic start to the race as 4/1 favourite Flag Officer dawdled out of the stalls before hanging and being pulled up by Frankie Dettori.
The day's other Group contest, the Duke of York totepool Stakes, saw a victory for Tipperary native Kevin Ryan, who was over the moon after saddling Tiddliwinks to a 25/1 surprise success. The winner races in Yorkshireman Guy Reed's famous pink, yellow and black silks and he was only beaten a length into third 12 months ago.
His stablemate Bogart, only a three-year-old, made a bold bid from the front and ended up fourth while The Cheka and Society Rock made late ground, but Jamie Spencer stole the race a furlong out.
"Unfortunately Mr Reed can't be here today. We really did fancy him. I knew Bogart would run well but he's going to improve an awful lot for the outing," said Ryan.
"I thought he'd got there too soon, but when Jamie gave him a squeeze he just took off. Thankfully, he held on. The ground was too soft for him at Newmarket last time, but you can't win this without having a run, so we had to run him there."
Paul Hanagan reported the well-fancied Mayson boiled over in the stalls, while favourite Hoof It stayed on into fifth. However, there was better fortune for Hanagan later on as the reigning champion jockey recorded a 53/1 double courtesy of his wins aboard Mulaqen (8/1) for Marcus Tregoning in the 12-furlong handicap and Baccarat (5/1 favourite) for Richard Fahey in the finale. (© Daily Telegraph, London)