Miss just perfect for Fabre

Andre Fabre has been a force to be reckoned with on his visits across the Channel for over two decades and finally completed a full set of British Classics through the appropriately-named Miss France in the Qipco 1000 Guineas at Newmarket yesterday.

An 100 per cent record with runners on the Rowley Mile from the last two seasons had already been maintained through Esoterique in the Qatar Bloodstock Dahlia Stakes, while his big-race heroine had been victorious on the course during the autumn.

Miss France (7-1) had narrowly beaten Lightning Thunder in that Oh So Sharp Stakes back in September and it was the same filly, a dream first Classic runner for young Olly Stevens, who pushed her hardest again as she charged home just a neck in arrears.

Fabre has claimed major honours across the globe, including seven Prix de l’Arc de Triomphes, a Derby, a Breeders’ Cup Classic and a cupboard full of champion trainer titles, and responded with typically Gallic insouciance when asked if the success was of personal importance.

“It wasn’t bothering me that I hadn’t won this race, otherwise I’d have tried many times before,” he said. “I was waiting for the right filly and a sunny day, which you don’t get in Newmarket.”

Miss France had been such a disappointing sixth on her return to action in the Prix Imprudence at Maisons-Laffitte that she was even removed from the betting for the Classic by some bookmakers at that point.

But after a reportedly sparkling piece of work, she was the filly of old and jockey Maxime Guyon sat just behind the 100-1 chance Manderley, who was ridden enterprisingly by Pat Dobbs and held on for fourth.

Satisfyingly, the field had not split as it did in Saturday’s 2000 Guineas, with Guyon pushing the button with a furlong to go and receiving the response he wanted.

Lightning Thunder was produced fairly late and down the stands side, and although she was gaining for Harry Bentley at the line, there was no disappointment from connections, including race sponsor Sheikh Fahad.

Fabre went on: “This means a lot, I trained the dam of the filly and I could not be more delighted.

“It was not the way I wanted her ridden, but it worked.

“I got confident in the last 10 days after her bad debut. She worked brilliantly, after that I told the owner we’d go to Newmarket.

“There was a question mark after her first run this year but I knew that race wasn’t to be believed.

“I was a bit perturbed when she hit the front so early as she idles.

“She’ll go for the Prix de Diane next, her dam won over a mile and a half. She will not go to Epsom.

“I think the best filly I’ve ever trained was Golden Lilac, she was an explosive filly, this filly is now more relaxed.”

The 25-year-old Guyon was winning his first British Classic.

He said: “The plan was to be at the back but she jumped really good, she relaxed really well and showed a good turn of foot.

“She felt like a different filly from the Imprudence but there was no pace in that race. I think she is the best filly in Europe at the moment.”

Ihtimal was third, Clive Brittain’s Rizeena ran a middling sort of race to take seventh but the big disappointment was the well-backed 4-1 favourite Tapestry, who weakened badly and was last. Trainer Aidan O’Brien told the stewards there was no obvious explanation.

A beaming Stevens said: “I’d never have dreamed I would have horses of this quality so soon. It’s the stuff of dreams.

“She’s in the Irish Guineas, but she’d have to really bounce out of this to go on the ferry.

“Harry Bentley rode a similar race to the Oh So Sharp, but they fell away in that race and she found herself on the lead.

“This race she was ridden exactly the same way; however, they didn’t fall away quite so readily.

“She goes well fresh so it’s more than likely that we’ll save her for the Coronation Stakes at Ascot.”

Bentley was given a two-day whip ban (May 18-19).

Ihtimal was a further half-length down in third and trainer Saeed bin Suroor said: “A mile and a half is the best trip for her. She has come to win her race and was staying on well but the winner is a miler. She ran a huge race and will go straight for the Oaks.”

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