The greatest Champions Series fillies
8 Mar 2017
On International Women's Day, we take a look at the greatest Champions Series fillies
One of the great fillies – The Fugue lands the Prince of Wales’s Stakes in 2014. Pic: racingfotos.com
Although a relative newcomer to the British Champions Series, Aidan O’Brien’s superstar filly was arguably the stand out star of last year.
A season which culminated with success on British Champions Day in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes started with a victory in the season’s opener, the QIPCO 1000 Guineas.
Sandwiched between those two huge victories were further Group 1 successes in the Investec Oaks and the Nassau Stakes, prompting many to believe her to be the best filly O’Brien has ever trained.
The news that she would stay in training was a huge bonus for all racing fans and we now wait to see whether she can continue her dominance of the Mile and Middle Distance divisions.
A serial British Champions Series winner, The Fugue notched up a quartet of Series wins in her illustrious career.
Having been placed in the 2012 Oaks, she would go on to land the Nassau Stakes in August before being pipped into second place in the Yorkshire Oaks almost three weeks later.
Her return to action the following season saw her finish third in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot before disappointing in the Coral-Eclipse.
However, this was not the start of her decline as she bounced back to land the Yorkshire Oaks before setting off on global tour which saw her find one too good in both the Breeders’ Cup Turf and the Hong Kong Vase.
She returned to Britain the following season by slamming her rivals in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, but suffered an injury in the Coral-Eclipse and was later retired.
In all, she earned nearly £3m in prize money and trainer John Gosden described her as: “a pleasure to train and to be around for all of us here, and she never ceased to amaze us with her courage and athletic ability”.
We caught up with The Fugue in 2015, watch below to see how she was coping with retirement.
Treve’s conqueror! We went to see Prince of Wales’s Stakes heroine THE FUGUE recently to see how she’s getting on.https://t.co/W0sQtFGz7x
— Champions Series (@ChampionsSeries) October 1, 2015
Whilst she was only a British Champions Series contender for one race, there is no denying the impact Black Caviar had on racing in Britain.
With London cabs decorated in her silks, the attention she drew to Royal Ascot in her bid to land the Diamond Jubilee Stakes was felt the world over.
Sent off the 1/6 favourite, the race was supposed to be a procession for the Australian superstar, but it turned out to almost be a nightmare for jockey Luke Nolen. Having hit the front with a furlong to go, she looked set to pull clear of the field before Nolen began to ease up on his mount in anticipation of the finishing post.
The line didn’t appear quite as soon as he had imagined though and as the race drew to a close he had to shake her up again to avoid a defeat for which he would have had to have taken the sole blame.
That day remains her shortest-ever winning distance, but she remains a legend of both the sprinting division and the British Champions Series.
A true David vs Goliath story, Quiet Reflection spent the whole season giving her syndicate owners the chance to serve it up to the mega rich heavyweights of the Flat racing world.
Having cost 44,000gns initially, she became one of the top sprinters in the country last year with victories in the Commonwealth Cup and the Sprint Cup Stakes, as well as a placed finish in the July Cup at Newmarket.
She skipped any engagements in Dubai during the close season and she is now back in training and has reported to have wintered well as she gives the aptly named owners Ontoawinner the chance to dream big yet again this season.
Not many horses can win a St Leger twice, but that is what Simple Verse had to go through just to get her name on the Classic roll of honour just once.
Having been first past the post at Doncaster in 2015, the decision was reversed in the Stewards’ Room before she eventually was awarded the race once more upon appeal.
If there was any doubt that the Ralph Beckett-trained filly was a worthy winner on that day, she then followed up to win on British Champions Day at Ascot later that season as she slammed her rivals to land the Group 1 Fillies & Mares Stakes.
A real fan favourite, Mecca’s Angel bowed out of the game this season, but it was not without British Champions Series success.
Back in 2015 she reduced her jockey Paul Mulrennan to tears when beating US superstar Acapulco to land the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes and she was at it again this year, delivering one of the best performances in recent seasons when retaining her crown, beating Limato by two lengths.
Her reliance on soft ground saw her often miss British engagements to take in French races in rain-affected conditions, but her gutsy efforts come what may saw her land not only two Champions Series races, but a place in the heart of racing fans everywhere.
Watch: What a mare! Mecca’s Angel flies home in the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes. https://t.co/PIFUPi6WEP
— Champions Series (@ChampionsSeries) August 19, 2016
So often the bridesmaid, Aidan O’Brien’s star was runner-up in four Champions Series races alone last year, making it a total of six second-place finishes throughout the Series.
Her second place to the mighty Almanzor had preceded defeats in the Yorkshire Oaks (Seventh Heaven), Prince of Wales’s Stakes (My Dream Boat) and Coronation Cup (Postponed).
Yet rarely has a horse had such a popular following at any point in the Series and it is almost beyond belief that she eventually retired without a Champions Series win to her name.
We’re looking forward to seeing her progeny in future years – if they have as much heart as she did, we imagine they’ll be making up for lost time soon.
Despite having a career that lasted just six races, Taghrooda always looked like a horse who could have been very special.
In just her third start she romped to success in the Investec Oaks before duly following up in the King Georve VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot, comfortably seeing off Telescope in the process.
It was therefore a shock to see her turned over later in the season during the Yorkshire Oaks, with Aidan O’Brien’s Tapestry coming away as the victor; but she bounced back to form in what would prove to be her final race, finishing third in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, despite going off the 9/2 favourite.
As a daughter of Sea The Stars, the temptation to retire her as a broodmare proved too much for her owner-breeder Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum and her trainer John Gosden gave her a fitting tribute, saying: “She has been wonderful, and will be missed. In my time not since Salsabil have we had a filly this good, which shows how rare they are.”