If there was any question about the quality of this year's 3-year-old fillies after Enable's dominance of the day's biggest race, doubts were put to rest in the Prix de l'Opera Longines, as stablemates Rhododendron and Hydrangea finished first and second, just a head apart.
The Coolmore runners, both by Galileo, were competitive all year. But Rhododendron, impressive last season, had yet to claim a win as a 3-year-old and trainer Aidan O'Brien's top rider, Ryan Moore, opted for Hydrangea. Seamie Heffernan, however, found just enough from Rhododendron to claim the victory. Lady Frankel, another 3-year-old, finished third. The best showing by an older runner was 4-year-old Left Hand, who finished fifth.
O'Brien said Hydrangea is a "strong possibility" for the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1T) at Del Mar and Heffernan added he looks forward to another crack at the Breeders' Cup.
"I've only won one, but I'd like to win another one," he said. Heffernan rode Highland Reel to victory in the 2016 Breeders' Cup Turf (G1T), defeating Flintshire , that year's Arc winner, Found, and Ulysses.
Godolphin and Coolmore split the day's 2-year-old events—both Breeders' Cup Challenge races.
Happily, a Galileo filly representing the Coolmore partners, found another gear in the final 100 meters and eased by the leaders to win the Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (G1) for 2-year-old colts and fillies. With Moore up for O'Brien, Happily became the first filly winner in the Lagardere—an important prep to the following year's classics—in more than 30 years. It was her second straight group 1 win, following the Moyglare Stud Stakes (G1) at the Curragh Sept. 10, where Magical finished second in a sweep for O'Brien's charges.
The Lagardere, in addition to its status as a Breeders' Cup Challenge race, also is the final autumn leg of the new "European Road to the Kentucky Derby." Happily earned 10 points toward a start in the 2018 Run for the Roses with her victory.
Wild Illusion raced prominently throughout the Total Prix Marcel Bousaac (G1) for 2-year-old fillies and held well to win by 1 1/2 lengths. Polydream finished second with a late rush on the outside, trailed closely by Mission Impassible and the favorite, Magical.
Wild Illusion, a Dubawi filly out of the German-bred mare Rumh, was supplemented to the race by Godolphin and trainer Charlie Appleby after a third-place finish in the Prix d'Aumale (G3) at Chantilly Sept. 3.
"We'll put her away for the year now," Appleby said.
Battaash shot to the lead in the five-furlong Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp Longines (G1), was never threatened, and won by four lengths. Marsha, who nipped Lady Aurelia for the win in the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes at York in her last start, with Bataash fourth, gave chase and finished second. Profitable was a close third. Battaash, a 3-year-old gelding by Dark Angel, is trained by Charlie Hills for Sheikh Hamdan al Maktoum. Hills said he's done for the year but he's a likely prospect for the rich sprint races in Dubai next spring.
The day's final race, the Qatar Prix de la Foret, is Europe's only group 1 event at seven furlongs. Aclaim, a 4-year-old Acclamation colt, accelerated through the final 200 meters to win by three-quarters of a length over So Beloved. Karar, the early leader, held on for third. Aclaim, with Oisin Murphy aboard, scored his first group 1 win.