Special Duty completed an amazing English/French One Thousand Guineas double when she was awarded a classic victory once again via disqualification, this time in the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches (Fr-I) at Longchamp May 16.
Two weeks ago at Newmarket, the French-based filly also claimed victory in the StanJames.com One Thousand Guineas (Eng-I), after the stewards ruled she had been hampered by Jacqueline Quest, who had finished a nose in front of her.
This time, Special Duty was promoted to first after a storming late run saw her fall a head short of Liliside at the wire. A stewards’ inquiry was quickly called after the finish due to obvious bumping and interference between several fillies within the final furlong.
After a prolonged delay of well over an hour, the stewards deemed that Liliside had been the instigator of much of the interference, finding she bumped both Full Steam and Rosanara when jockey Jean-Bernard Eyquem switched her out to make her run with under two furlongs left.
Liliside ran on strongly to the wire, holding off a charging Special Duty, ridden by Stephane Pasquier. Baine finished another neck back in a blanket finish of six fillies. Joanna and Rosanara were each just a head behind Baine, with Lady Of The Desert another neck back after taken up sharply by jockey Kieren Fallon.
After the inquiry, stewards awarded Special Duty the victory. Baine was promoted to second, and Joanna was third. Liliside was placed sixth, behind Lady Of The Desert.
Final time for the eight furlongs was 1:37.40 over a course rated as good.
Criquette Head-Maarek, who trains Special Duty for owner/breeder Juddmonte Farm, now has won the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches seven times, and has completed the English/French Guineas double twice. Ravinella completed the sweep in 1988.
Head-Maarek thought justice had been done following the change of result. “Amazing - that is the word,” she told reporters. “It feels very good and to win two Group Ones is incredible.”
“The stewards have made the correct decision as I got the race, but it was the right decision overall as Liliside stopped the Aga Khan horse (Rosanara) from being closer.”
Head-Maarek continued, “It is always a shame in these big races and leaves me with a bad feeling, especially when the result involves a small trainer from the country.”
When asked where Special Duty would run next, Head-Maarek replied, “I think I’ll give her a break now. I feel Ascot would come too soon. She could run in the Prix d’Astarte (Fr-I) at Deauville.”
Special Duty, champion 2-year-old filly in England last year, races as a homebred for Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte Farm. She is by Hennessy out of Quest To Peak, by Distant View. Her dam is a full sister to multiple grade I winner Sightseek, and a half-sister to grade I winner Tates Creek.