SECRET Gesture was agonisingly worn down inside the final furlong by Penelopa in the Henkel-Preis Der Diana – Deutsches Stuten-Derby (German Oaks) at Dusseldorf.
Ralph Beckett’s filly took up this engagement in preference to the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood on Saturday and, entering the straight, it looked a wise decision. Jamie Spencer took a wide course on Secret Gesture, who finished second to her stable companion Talent in the Oaks at Epsom, but she went two lengths clear of her pursuers.
For a long while it looked as if she may see them all off but the home runner Penelopa, ridden by Eduardo Pedroza and trained by Miltcho Mintchev, came with a late rattle to claim the prize. Secret Gesture just held on for second as the pack closed in.
Moonlight Cloud won yesterday’s Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville for the third successive year, sprinting past Lethal Force inside the final furlong.
Clive Cox’s grey lost nothing in defeat, conceding 3lb to the Freddie Head-trained mare, but he simply had no answer to Moonlight Cloud’s finishing burst. Adam Kirby attempted to make most on Lethal Force, tactics which had worked so well in the Diamond Jubilee and July Cup, but he had to work quite hard to get over to the rail.
Once there, Kirby tried to wind it up in front but Thierry Jarnet always looked confident, and once he asked Moonlight Cloud to go and win the race, the response was immediate and the five-year-old sped home alone.
Gordon Lord Byron made late headway to finish third while Gale Force Ten showed up well for a long way before fading close home.
Meanwhile, Sky Lantern is likely to get the chance to exact revenge on Nassau Stakes winner Winsili in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf.
Richard Hannon’s 1000 Guineas and Coronation Stakes winner was caught in a pocket at Goodwood and could only finish fifth, but connections were convinced she stayed the ten furlong-trip. Hannon’s best colt Toronado enjoyed better luck earlier in the week in the Sussex Stakes, beating his old foe Dawn Approach, and he is also likely to head to Santa Anita.
“Sky Lantern apart, the week could hardly have gone better. It was obviously nice to get our revenge on Dawn Approach with Toronado in the Sussex, and both the colt and the filly will probably end up in California for the Breeders’ Cup, because both owners seem keen to go,” said Hannon.
“Fast ground at Santa Anita would suit both and a two-turn mile should be perfect for Toronado, while at least we now know for certain that Sky Lantern stays the mile and a quarter, so she can be targeted at the Filly & Mare Turf if we decide to go.”