William Buick’s mount ended the stellar winning run of the top three-year-old filly Sky Lantern (4-7 favourite) by a neck, but second-placed jockey Richard Hughes was not happy Elusive Kate had hung across him and believed his filly had been struck in the face by his rival’s whip.
Elusive Kate (3-1), winner of last year’s Group 1 Prix Rothschild, made all the running in a tactical four-runner affair but has shown a tendency to drift in the past, with Buick handed a three-day careless riding ban (July 26,28,29) despite having his stick in the correct hand.
Hughes sat just behind Buick aboard his winner of both the 1000 Guineas and Coronation Stakes and attempted to cover every move Buick made as Elusive Kate began to increase the pace.
Once Sky Lantern joined the leader entering the last furlong, she was never quite able to assert authority but was carried a considerable way across the track.
After a stewards’ inquiry, where Hughes made a candid appeal in the televised hearing, the placings remained unaltered and the officials were satisfied that the striking of Sky Lantern by Buick’s whip was accidental.
Winning trainer John Gosden said: “She’s a filly that often drifts left, she did it when she won as a two-year-old and she did the same thing in the Marcel Boussac at Longchamp. William left the gate with the stick in his left hand and it never moved from his left hand.
“They went to go to the middle, she went to the rail and they’re sitting on her. When horses come under pressure on fast ground it’s going to happen, but William always had his stick in the correct hand. There’s been no contact.
“The Prix Rothschild, which she won last year, is the obvious one to go for, and then after that there’s races like the Matron and the Prix Jacques le Marois, although horses like Intello and Dawn Approach will be going there so we might wait for the Matron, and you might want to go for a Breeders’ Cup Mile later on.”
Buick said: “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 said: “I thought I had a chance (in the stewards’ room). I’m waving the white flag because the other horse is under my nose and there’s nothing I can do. She got whipped in the face as well.
“It’s a shame, as she’s the one who has the bad habit and I’m the sufferer.”
Sky Lantern’s assistant trainer, Richard Hannon jnr, said: “She has run a good race and that’s racing.
“The stewards’ decision is not going to change – that’s life and we’ll have to come back and worry about winning the next time.
“She’ll have a short break now, and then will come back for the Matron and then the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf.”
Giofra had beaten Elusive Kate by half a length in last year’s renewal, on soft ground, but finished two lengths back this time. Trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre said: “She ran well but I don’t think there was enough pace for her. It was tactical but she didn’t go her maximum and she could run in Deauville (Prix Rothschild).”