Makfi takes the shine off Goldikova at Royal Ascot
Yesterday was supposed to be the day that Goldikova, the darling of the turfistes, won her 11th Group One prize and with it posted a new European record for such deeds.
Makfi, not even regarded as chief among the mare's rivals after being well beaten at Royal Ascot, spoiled the party by choosing the richest mile race in these parts, the Prix Jacques le Marois, to bounce back to his best form.
The French-trained three-year-old had sprung a surprise when he took the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket at 33-1 and while his position in the market yesterday was not so outrageous — he was third favourite at a shade over 4-1 — his capture of the scalps of not only the magnificent Goldikova, but also her tough five-year-old contemporary Paco Boy left the Normandy seaside crowd stunned.
Goldikova cruised through seven of the eight furlongs with her customary regal poise, but when push from jockey Olivier Peslier came to shove she failed to quicken in testing, rain-softened ground. Makfi, however, could, and drew away potently under Christophe Soumillon to win by two-and-a-half lengths.
Makfi's performance to take the £303,000 purse not only confirmed his place among the season's elite, which had been in some doubt after he trailed home behind Canford Cliffs in the St James's Palace Stakes in June, but nicely stirs up the division's pecking order.
“I was of course disappointed after Ascot,” said winning trainer, Mikel Delzangles, “but afterwards we found he was sick so there was a reason. He has proved today he is the top miler we know he is.”
A showdown between Makfi and Canford Cliffs, already hailed as the champion of his generation, will be one to relish and may come in next month's Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. The Ascot race, along with the Prix du Moulin at Longchamp, is under consideration before another party-pooping attempt, in the Breeders' Cup Mile.
Goldikova has already won that contest twice and her end-of-season target is an unprecedented hat-trick at the US meeting.
Before that, she may try again to improve on her top-level score, which she shares with two other females, Miesque and Dahlia, in either the Prix de la Foret or the Moulin. Yesterday's defeat was her first of the year.
The racecourse future of Paco Boy, a Richard Hannon stablemate of Canford Cliffs, is undecided. The horse, recently sold and with a guaranteed berth at stud next year, has now been thrice beaten by Goldikova.
The wrist injury of the champion jockey Ryan Moore, currently third behind Paul Hanagan and Richard Hughes in this year's title race, has ruled him out of tomorrow's opening of the Ebor Festival at York. His place on the Sir Michael Stoute-trained St Leger prospect Total Command in the Great Voltigeur Stakes will go to Peslier.
Nine are down to go in tomorrow's Group One feature, the Juddmonte International, including Rip Van Winkle, the Ballydoyle-based market leader, and Hannon's supplemented 2,000 Guineas runner-up, Dick Turpin.