Last week may have been all about Frankel and Nathaniel, but in France and Ireland on Sunday, four extremely classy fillies reminded us that theirs is a division which should not be overlooked this season.
One can only guess at how Jim Bolger might react to his star turn Banimpire being referred to by the At The Races commentator as Ireland’s answer to Margaret Thatcher, but the equine Iron Lady is certainly a filly to evoke awe and admiration in equal measures.
Her tally for this season now stands at nine runs for six wins and two places following her latest slugging victory in the Royal Whip Stakes at the Curragh. They include a brace of Group 2s and Group 3s apiece plus a short-head defeat by Blue Bunting in the Darley Irish Oaks.
Equally impressive is Ballydoyle’s unbeaten juvenile Maybe, whose four-race progression, from maiden to Listed to Group 3 to Sunday’s Group 2 Keeneland Debutante Stakes, has been faultless. In just three months since her her debut on 11 May, she has ensured that hers is a name that will be muttered winter long.
A daughter of Galileo out of – yes, you’ve guessed it – a mare by Danehill, Maybe’s forthcoming potential engagements include the Moyglare Stud Stakes, the Fillies’ Mile and the Cheveley Park Stakes.
Franking Maybe’s form in emphatic style at the Curragh was La Collina, who was runner-up to the O’Brien-trained filly in the Silver Flash Stakes on July 14.
Kevin Prendergast’s decision to avoid a rematch was rewarded when his charge overturned Maybe’s stable-mate, the favourite Power, in the dying strides of the Group 1 Keeneland Phoenix Stakes. While those on the front line at Ballydoyle may have regretted the result, their colleagues down the road in Fethard will have been delighted, as La Collina became the first top-level winner for her first-season sire, Coolmore’s Strategic Prince, and, as ever, Galileo wasn’t far away: he is her broodmare sire.
Arguably the most dazzling distaffer of them all at the weekend was Moonlight Cloud, who made a classy field of Group 1 sprinters look fairly ordinary with her four-length strike in the Prix Maurice de Gheest.
While her family hints at reasonable reserves of stamina – her grand-dam Wedding Bouquet being a half-sister to the Classic-winning duo of Generous and Imagine – Moonlight Cloud’s sire Invincible Spirit has added that dash of speed which has been seen to such effect in his offspring such as Fleeting Spirit, Hooray and Conquest, and she is yet another top-class performer to keep his name aloft among Europe’s elite sires.