Star Catcher and Dettori dig deep in Fillies & Mares

Short-head success in battle with Delphinia

  • Saturday 19 October
  • News

Star Catcher rounded off her excellent campaign with victory in the Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes at Ascot.

John Gosden’s filly was a maiden at the start of the season, having finished sixth on her only juvenile start at Chelmsford.

However, a good case can now be made for her being the best middle-distance filly of her generation after adding this Group One prize to her earlier big-race wins this season in the Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot, the Irish Oaks at the Curragh and the Prix Vermeille in Paris.

With Frankie Dettori in the saddle, the daughter of Sea The Stars was the 7-4 favourite to provide her owner-breeder Anthony Oppenheimer with a third Champions Day victory in as many years following the back-to-back wins of the brilliant Cracksman in the Champion Stakes.

It was not all plain sailing for the market leader as she was hard at work halfway up the home straight – and was briefly short of room after Sun Maiden drifted across the track, leaving Star Catcher the meat in the sandwich between her and Delphinia against the far rail.

Gosden’s charge rallied courageously, however, getting the better of Delphinia by a short head, with Sun Maiden third and the luckless Fleeting fourth after encountering traffic problems.

Dettori was bouncing straight back after defeat for Stradivarius in the Long Distance Cup, and was making it winner number 18 at Group One level this season – and the 250th of his glittering career.

He said: “Obviously I’m still a bit sour about Stradivarius, but the ground is a bit worse than we thought. I’ve gone from crying to smiling in half an hour.

“She’s lovely, she’s tough – I think she’s staying in training, with a bit of luck, and she’s a wonderful filly.

“She’s provided me with my 250th Group One and 18th this season, so I love her.”

Gosden said: “All three fillies were brave, as it was testing ground and not what we are used to.

“That is the hope (to see her again next year). Mr Oppenheimer believes in racing his horses and he enjoys it immensely, so she should be racing next year. She is a lovely filly and a brave filly.

“America (Breeders’ Cup) is too close and you can’t go to America on November 2 after running a race like that. She has just left her heart on the track. To stick her neck in between them, she was very brave.

“She is a brave filly and she will have a winter off. It was a brave, wonderful performance. She is a very good filly, but she won the Vermeille on fast ground and she won in Ireland on quick ground.

“Anapurna found it too testing. She lost a shoe and was skidding all the way.”

Seamie Heffernan, rider of Aidan O’Brien-trained runner-up Delphinia, said: “She’s unlucky not to have won a Group One, Second is better than third, but it’s not as good as winning.”

Sir Michael Stoute, trainer of third home Sun Maiden said: “She’s a very honest filly and a progressive, one too.”

Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager for Sun Maiden’s owner Khalid Abdullah, said: “She’s run a blinder and when she came I thought she might just take all of it.

“She was drawn a little wide, she settled in well and had a pretty good run through and has probably run the best race of her life, which is fantastic.”

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