The Group 1 Coronation Stakes went the way of France as the two French fillies finished first and second with Immortal Verse leading home Nova Hawk. It was also a real family affair, father Robert beating son Rod, as the domestic challengers were left trailing in their wake.
The victory was a welcome return to form for the winner who had to be withdrawn from the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket having reared in the stalls, before then finishing only 11th in her native Guineas. However, she returned to form by putting her rivals to the sword in emphatic style.
Sent off a relatively well fancied 8/1 shot, the daughter of Pivotal was clearly well at home on the rain softened ground and under Gerard Mosse was settled nicely at the rear of the field as Irish raider Claiomh Solais led the runners once the gates opened. The Richard Hannon trained Memory was pulling frantically for her head during the opening exchanges, but the order remained unchanged as the 13 runners swung into the home straight. It was at that point that Kevin Manning kicked the long-time leader a couple of lengths clear as her rivals seemed to be treading water for a couple of strides. However, Mosse had angled his mount to the outside and began to eat up the ground as they hit top gear. As she hit the front inside the final furlong the contest was as good as over and she strode powerfully clear to score by an impressive two and a quarter lengths.
Nova Hawk had started her run from a similar position but came through the middle of the pack to chase the winner home. Barefoot Lady grabbed third under stand-in jockey Kieren Fallon – regular partner Paul Hanagan missed his intended mounts on Friday with a spasm in his neck – with 7/2 market leader Together finishing down the field for Aidan O'Brien and Ryan Moore.
The winning trainer was successful in Doncaster’s St Leger way back in 1979 and 32 years on he was once again celebrating a top level success in a major British race. Speaking through a translator, Collet said: “This filly is the best filly I have trained. At Newmarket she had a blind on to go into the stalls but there was a lot of wind and she got irritated. In the Frenchn Guineas things didn't go to plan, so we forgot about that. You have to be really stubborn to come back and prove that you have a Group 1 filly. Her biggest asset is her turn of foot.”
Result – 2011 Coronation Stakes
1st Horse Immortal Verse (IRE) 8/1
Jockey Gerald Mosse
Trainer Robert Collet
Owner Mr R. C. Strauss
2nd Nova Hawk 9/2
3rd Barefoot Lady (IRE) 16/1