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Dettori not for Catching as Gosden Star shines in Prix Vermeille

On a day when everyone was looking for clues ahead of the fast-approaching Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, the best performance at Longchamp on Sunday came from a filly who is not entered and for whom her connections did their best to dampen any enthusiasm surrounding the idea of supplementing.

For Frankie Dettori and John Gosden the incentives to look elsewhere with Star Catcher are clear, given Enable's date with destiny here in three weeks' time.

But for Anthony Oppenheimer, owner-breeder of Star Catcher – a tenacious winner having made all bar a messy first furlong of this Prix Vermeille – there appears little temptation to reach for the cheque book in the way he did for Golden Horn four years ago.

"We're not entered in the Arc," said Oppenheimer. "I suspect my trainer will probably not go for the Arc. It's entirely up to him. 

"She's such a determined horse and we don't want to push her out too much and the Arc is too soon. Five weeks to Ascot [for Champions Day] is a different matter but I don't think she'll go near the Arc."

None of which should detract from a brave performance in the mould of Star Catcher's Kerrygold Irish Oaks success, with Dettori able to recover lost ground out of the stalls to take command before the field had disappeared from view behind the Petit Bois.

For the second of the Gosden-trained Oaks winners Anapurna, there was no such reprieve after a similarly tardy start, with Oisin Murphy never able to find clear passage.

Gosden said: "We were clear we wanted to get a good break and both fillies missed the break. Frankie managed to slither up and get to the front after a furlong, meanwhile Oisin was pinned on the rail, she found it claustrophobic and that was the end of her chance. They ride tight round here in a Group 1. 

"Frankie was able to set a proper tempo but then go through the gears and do what he does so well. He loves this track. He's a genius like Bill Shoemaker with keeping a little bit up his sleeve. It was a fabulous performance from a very brave filly."

Asked whether he was tempted by the Arc in 21 days' time, Gosden didn't completely dismiss the idea, while making it clear he would prefer the daughter of Sea The Stars to stick to races against her own sex.

"That was the target very much," said Gosden. "The options for fillies these days are Ascot and also the Breeders' Cup, so you could possibly look at one of those two possibilities. She's not in the Arc so we'll see. Obviously we have another filly who quite likes the Arc."

In a repeat of her remarkable finishing burst in last season's Prix de Diane Longines, the Godolphin-owned Musis Amica circled the field to finish a fine second, while another Andre Fabre inmate, Ligne D'Or, filled out the places. 

"She's run really well and right up to her best form in 2018," said Godolphin's Lisa-Jane Graffard. "The idea was to let her take her time and then come home and she finished just like in the Diane last year."

Fleeting looked in position to take a hand in the finish but could do no better than fifth under Wayne Lordan, while stablemate Pink Dogwood paid for her efforts in following Star Catcher, fading late on to be eighth on what was her first start since finishing third in the Irish Oaks.

 

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