Dubai: Former French juvenile champion Elusive Kate won the Etihad Airways Falmouth Stakes (G1) in a thrilling finish at Newmarket yesterday, but had to survive a stewards’ inquiry before sealing a third Group 1 career victory, and a first in Britain.
William Buick, the winner’s jockey, came out of a televised post-race stewards inquiry unpunished despite appearing to have forced Richard Hughes aboard Sky Lantern across the width of the track, which the latter contended had affected the chances of his runner.
In his defence, Buick said of Elusive Kate: “She hung to her left and I ended up taking Richard with me, but she beat her [Sky Lantern] fair and square and she’s a very good filly.
“I wish she hadn’t hung left, as she would have shown it was fair and square, but she’s done it all her life. She costs herself a lot of ground by doing it, but she keeps winning and she’s never run a bad race.”
Hughes maintained that the incident cost him the race as Sky Lantern, the 1,000 Guineas (G1) and Coronation Stakes (G1) winner, was not allowed to run a straight course and was even struck on the face twice, albeit accidently, by Buick’s whip.
“My filly was running straight as a gun-barrel. From the two pole to the winning line he [Buick] took me right across the track,” said the reigning British champion. “He hit my filly twice across the face. My filly was impeded and had to run away from Mr Buick.”
He added: “The winning distance was only a neck and I believe that, without the interference, my horse could have reversed the result.”
Winning trainer John Gosden sprung to the defense of Elusive Kate, who notched four wins from four starts in France during 2011-12, saying: “She always drifts left, this filly. When she won the Prix Marcel Boussac (G1) she drifted — she always drifts left and that’s probably why she likes Deauville.
“They’ve drifted across the track together, but there’s been no contact.
“She’s a tough filly. She’s a very talented filly and for a first foal she’s very powerful. We’re thrilled with her attitude.”
Gosden also revealed that he was toying with the idea of sending his star to contest the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) at Santa Anita Park, California on November 1 and 2.
Earlier, Dubai-owned Rizeena was beaten by two-and-a-quarter lengths by 20-1 outsider Lucky Kristale in the Group 2 Duchess Of Cambridge Stakes (Formerly The Cherry Hinton Stakes).