Pleascach foils Covert mission
A change of tactics instigated by Kevin Manning enabled Irish 1,000 Guineas winner Pleascach to return to her best in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks on the Knavesmire.
Having won at the Curragh over a mile back in May, she looked guaranteed to be even better over further.
However, she was beaten by Curvy in the Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot and could finish only fifth in the Pretty Poly Stakes over 10 furlongs.
Given that was her fifth run in quick succession, the Teofilo filly could be excused that and Jim Bolger gave her a 53-day break.
Manning, though, felt she had been beaten the last twice because he was trying to hold her up in her races, breaking her stride in the process, and told connections pre-race that he would be letting her stride on.
That she did not have to make the running was down to Hugo Palmer's Irish Oaks winner Covert Love, who benefited from a strong gallop in winning her Classic and when she kicked two lengths clear with two furlongs to run she looked certain to add another notch to her burgeoning C.V.
But the wily Manning, who has as much big-race experience as anybody thanks to the champions his father-in-law keeps on producing year on year, got Pleascach rolling and the 8-1 chance got home by a neck with the same back to Francois Doumen's Sea Calisi.
It was not all good news for Manning as he was hit with a two-day ban (September 3 and 4) for using his whip above the permitted level, but that was only a minor blemish on another Group One success.
Bolger was winning the race for the first time since Lush Lashes in 2008.
"Previously we tried to settle her a little bit and it meant breaking her stride, so Kevin decided whatever happened today he wasn't going to break her stride. He gave her a beautiful ride," said Bolger.
"Whether it meant making the running or not, Kevin said he was determined he was going to let her roll.
"She may have been feeling the effects of a busy spell on her last two runs, but the fact we were trying to settle her, breaking her stride, was equally important.
"Two down I wasn't that confident, but Kevin said he always was
"We knew she was at the top of her game coming here, the last two weeks she's really come good.
"We'll have to see how she comes out of this, but maybe something at Longchamp like the Prix de l'Opera could be next, the French deserve to have a look at her now."
Manning said: "She battled all the way to the line and she's done it very well.
"I thought she ran a little bit flat the last day and didn't run up to scratch, but I thought she was back to her best when I rode her work last week.
"She goes on various types of ground and is a very talented filly."
Having been bought by Godolphin after her Guineas win, Sheikh Mohammed (who also sponsored the race) might have been thinking her best days had passed, but bloodstock advisor John Ferguson said: "Kevin said a furlong and a half out he knew he was going to win.
"Quite simply, Jim Bolger is a master trainer. He told me beforehand that he felt he had her back to her best.
"She disappointed at Royal Ascot and in the Pretty Polly, so it's great she's come back and shown her form.
"We'll be guided by Jim as to where to go. It's possible she could stay in training next year. She looks the type to carry on improving."
Covert Love had the option of the St Leger and was prominent in the betting for the final Classic, but that now appears to have been ruled out.
Palmer said: "She's run absolutely brilliantly. The two Group One winners in the field have dominated and it's a huge boost to the Irish Classic form.
"A massive operation may have run a pacemaker today. That's the advantage they have, but I'm so proud of her.
"She still needs to fill her frame and can only get better.
"If she had bolted up we'd have considered the Leger, but she didn't. She's in at Ascot on Champions Day and she could go there, but she doesn't need to run again this season."