Catcher a Star for Oppenheimer and Gosden

Star Catcher justified her place as 7/4 favourite for the £550,000 G1 QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes with a gritty victory.

Star Catcher, photo Liesl King

Her triumph was quick consolation for trainer John Gosden and jockey Frankie Dettori who were beaten by the narrowest margin of a nose in the preceding race, the G2 QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup, when Stradivarius lost out to Kew Gardens.

Thirty-five minutes later they were the narrow winners as Star Catcher beat Delphinia (20/1) and Sun Maiden (25/1) by a short head and one length. Gosden's other runner, Oaks winner Anapurna, finished 11th of the 12 runners after holding a good early position.

Sun Catcher's owner/breeder Anthony Oppenheimer, who also raced and bred Derby winner Golden Horn, said his filly would remain in training next year, and added: "We're all thrilled. We were very worried about the ground before the race and didn't think she would go in it, but she has a lot of courage and really pulled on that. It was fantastic effort by her, the trainer and the jockey."

Gosden said: "It was extraordinary to see three fillies fighting it out together, but she was determined to get her head in front and you cannot doubt her courage. She's a wonderful filly and now she can have a winter off.

"She won the Prix Vermeille on fast ground, she won in Ireland on quick ground and now she's won on heavy. The inner track is better than the outer track, but we've had a lot of rain. It's a gorgeous day and these wonderful horses are running, and so far we've had three incredible races.

"You have to remain calm and collected for the horses - you're no damn good if you're jumping around and being neurotic, and when you start saddling them they feel your nerves. That's no good to them. You need to be calm.

He added of Anapurna: "She found it too testing. She lost a shoe and was skidding all the way."


In a perfect world it would have happened on Enable at Longchamp 13 days earlier, but Frankie Dettori did not have long to wait for his 250

th Group 1 winner and Star Catcher, on whom he has also won an Irish Oaks and a Prix Vermeille, was not a bad substitute.

Just 35 minutes after coming off second best to Donnacha O'Brien and the Aidan O'Brien-trained Kew Gardens on Stradivarius, the boot was on the other foot as Dettori got the better of another great battle by a short head as Star Catcher (7/4 favourite) beat Delphinia (20/1Seamie Heffernan) in the £550,000 QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares.

He said: "Star Catcher has never stopped improving but once Delphinia couldn't get away from her she found her second wind and managed to get her head in front in the last 100 yards. It was hard work in the straight but the last shower made a big difference as it's borderline heavy, and she doesn't mind it.

"I am still a bit sour about Stradivarius, but the ground is a lot worse than we thought. I am pleased this filly won. Like you said, from crying to smiling in half an hour! She's lovely, she's tough, and I think she is going to stay in training. She is a wonderful filly and provided me with my 250th G1. I love her."

Star Catcher was Dettori's 17th Group 1 winner in a stellar year.



The finish G1 QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes was a virtual repeat of the battle a race before between Kew Gardens and Stradivarius, but this time the Aidan O'Brien-trained contender, Delphinia, went down by a short-head to the John Gosden-trained Star Catcher.

Delphinia, a three-year-old daughter of Galileo, was ridden by Seamie Heffernan and took second place at odds of 20/1.

O'Brien said: "Delphinia and Fleeting [fourth under Donnacha O'Brien] ran great races. We're very pleased with them."

Delphinia's rider Heffernan said: "Delphinia ran well. We were just caught close home but I'm delighted with her. Second is better than third!"

Third, just a length behind, was Sun Maiden, trained by Sir Michael Stoute and ridden by Jim Crowley, who started at 25/1.

Stoute said: "We're really pleased with her. She's a very honest filly. A nice, progressive filly."

Sun Maiden is a daughter of Frankel out of G1 winner Midsummer and homebred by owner Khalid Abdulla, whose racing manager Lord Grimthorpe said: "She ran a blinder. She was drawn a little wide, settled in well, and had a pretty good run through. She's probably run the best race of her life, really, which is fantastic.

2:45pm QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes (Group 1) 1m 4f

1 (11) Star Catcher 3-8-13 John Gosden Anthony Oppenheimer Frankie Dettori 7/4 Fav

2 (2) Delphinia (IRE) 3-8-13 Aidan O'Brien Ireland Sue Magnier, Michael Tabor & Derrick Smith Seamie Heffernan 20/1

3 (12) Sun Maiden 4-9-05 Sir Michael Stoute Khalid Abdullah Jim Crowley 25/1

Time: 2m 28.48s

Distances: Short Head, 1

Bet With Ascot returns - Win: £2.20 Places: £1.20; £3.60, £7.00 First Two: £39.90

9th QIPCO British Champions Day success for John Gosden

7th QIPCO British Champions Day success for Frankie Dettori