Miss France (7/1) took the victory in the 1000 Guineas race at Newmarket on Sunday, barely fending off a late surge from Lightning Thunder (14/1) to win by the slimmest of margins.
A slow start to the race saw a relatively compact pack head into the final furlongs, as Miss France started to break away from the group, with Manderley defying the odds as the only horse seemingly on par with the French filly.
Richard Hannon's 100/1 outsider led until the final furlong before the power of Miss France kicked in, as Maxime Guyon led his horseforward, easily overtaking Manderley in the process.
Lightning Thunder came charging out of the background in sensational fashion and would have overtaken the eventual winner had the track been 20 yards longer, but it was too little too late.
Ithimal (7/1) would complete the podium, with Manderley just missing out by a quarter-length.
As shared by Channel 4 Racing, this win was the very first victory in the 1000 Guineas for French super-trainer Andre Fabre:
That's the first 1,000 Guineas for Andre Fabre. Miss France looked so good in the Oh So Sharp Stakes, and that proved it— Channel 4 Racing (@Channel4Racing) May 4, 2014
Per Racing UK, the trainer was over the moon with the work of his jockey, giving him all the credit for the tactics he used in this race:
The win also gave the experienced trainer a full house of British Classics, but via BBC's Cornelius Lysaght, he seemed quite unimpressed with that achievement:
#Newmarket: Andre Fabre refusing to get carried away with completing GB Classic full house. Told media it was "a solved problem".— Cornelius Lysaght (@CorneliusRacing) May 4, 2014
Lightning Thunder's performance in coming second was quite astonishing, and although jockey Harry Bentley came agonisingly close to the win, trainer Olly Stevens was still very excited at the final result.
He told racingbetter.co.uk:
We're thrilled, this is childhood dream stuff, to be here with a horse of this quality. She's in the Irish Guineas, but she'd have to really bounce out of this to go on the ferry. She goes well fresh so it's more than likely that we'll save her for the Coronation Stakes at Ascot.
As with Saturday's 2000 Guineas, Sunday's race carried a purse of £410,000. The 1000 Guineas wraps up the opening weekend of the British Classics, with the next race being the Epsom Oaks in June.
StanJames.com's Rory Jiwani learned trainer Fabre already stated Miss France will not be taking part in that race:
Andre Fabre says 1000 Guineas winner Miss France will not run in the Oaks. She'll go for the Coronation or Prix De Diane next. #Newmarket— Rory Jiwani (@roryjiwani) May 4, 2014
Lightning Thunder's late explosion was truly impressive, and with the Oaks' track being a full four furlongs longer than Newmarket, such a display of stamina bodes well for the horse's chances.
The Oaks is a race for fillies only, unlike the Derby which will be open to colts as well, and with the smaller field and the disappointing performance of Rizeena in today's race, look for the bookmakers to fall in love with Lightning Thunder as the Oaks draws near.
Saturday, May 4
The 2014 Guineas Festival started off with the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on Saturday. Kieren Fallon shocked all present when he rode 40-1 outsider Night Of Thunder to a surprise win over heavy favourites Kingman and Australia, as shared by Racing Post Photos:
Night Of Thunder (Kieren Fallon) after winning the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket. Pic: Edward Whitaker - pic.twitter.com/qAjXLP9YmP— Racing Post Photos (@RP_PHOTOS) May 3, 2014
While the finish was a very close one that should have excited the multitude of fans present, the pack unfortunately split, leaving Australia on one side of the final strait, presumably unaware of what was happening on the other side as he raced for the finish on his own.
Catching up with Kingman before veering away, Night Of Thunder finished with a 1/2 length on the favourite, indicating perhaps bookmakers were sleeping on a horse able to overtake a strong favourite in a straight sprint.
The Telegraph's Paul Hayward didn't like the conclusion to Saturday's race:
Messy 2,000 Guineas - and not because the winner was 40-1. Two groups, winner drifted across the course, hot pots beaten.— Paul Hayward (@_PaulHayward) May 3, 2014
Fallon was very impressed with the explosion of his horse in the final strait, per The Observer's Chris Cook:
It was unbelievable, the way he quickened for me. He was always going to pick up Kingman, until he started to veer and then I started to worry a bit. But at that stage, it's too late, it happened very quickly.
On the other side, Australia came to within a head of the eventual winner, with the rest of the pack of 14 trailing by at least 2 1/2 lengths.
The horse's trainer, Richard Hannon Jr., was as ecstatic as can be following the result. Having recently taken over the stable from his father, this was the 38-year-old's very first chance at Classic success, and while his stable is one trainers all over the world would envy, such a monumental moment still has to be special for the new owner.
Speaking of the horse, Hannon Jr. said, per Cook:
We always thought a lot of him. I feel very sorry for Hughesie, who loves the horse and wanted to ride him at Newbury [in the horse's prep race, when he was beaten by Kingman].
We were a little bit disappointed in the Greenham but he showed how good he was there. They didn't go quite quick enough for him and he pulled a bit.
Kingman trainer John Gosden was obviously dissatisfied with the way the race played out, and he told Cook as much:
That's life, that's the way it goes. "But when they split into two, it doesn't create the perfect race, does it? Let's be honest about that.
I don't know, what do you do? Do you narrow the track? It seemed a bit stupid, with [only] 14 runners, to do what they did, diverge.
The 2000 Guineas is the first of the five British Classics, with the second, the 1000 Guineas, to be run at Newmarket on Sunday.
A field of 17 will run on Sunday, with Rizeena headlining the group as one of the favourites. Trainer Clive Brittain voiced his satisfaction with the draw and preparation for this race, via Racing Better:
Everything's fine. The draw's (seven) not too worrying and the ground will be perfect as far as I'm concerned.
With Richard (Hughes) riding I've no lack of confidence in the jockey. He hasn't sat on her, but he sat behind her last year and beat her once (on Chriselliam), so he knows enough about her.
As ever, the 1000 Guineas will be restricted to fillies (the first of two of the British Classics) and will have the same £410,000 purse as Saturday's 2000 Guineas.
Saturday's winner, Night Of Thunder, will now have have the Epsom Derby in its sights, it being the fourth British Classic on the schedule and the next race open to both fillies and colts.
Hannon Jr. is looking to further build on the work his father put in building the stable, and with Night of Thunder now joining Toormore as another horse capable of winning a Classic at his disposal, it looks like the 38-year-old will be a major factor in upcoming Classics.