Taken from the Thoroughbred Daily News

Returning for the first time since her barn-storming success in the  Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf Gr.1 at Santa Anita in November, Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Thani’s Flotilla (Fr) (MIZZEN MAST) re-established her presence in style yesterday when winning Longchamp’s Poule d’Essai des Pouliches Gr.1 at inflated odds of 13-1.

Settled in mid-pack early by Christophe-Patrice Lemaire, the imposing bay tracked the 9-5 favorite Esoterique (Ire) (Danehill Dancer {Ire}) throughout and, after allowing her first run on the front end inside the final 1 1/2 furlongs, wore her down in the final strides for a neck verdict. "She proved she is a top-class filly to win this first time up and showed an amazing turn of foot," trainer Mikel Delzangles commented.

Few would have expected that they were seeing a future Breeders’ Cup and Classic winner when attending the races at Clairefontaine July 30, but they had not banked on the untapped ability that seven-furlong conditions scorer Flotilla had in store. Getting going too late when subsequently fifth on her black-type introduction in the Prix d’Aumale Gr.3 over this trip at Chantilly in September, she took a major step forward when fourth after being holed up at a crucial point of the Prix Marcel Boussac Gr.1 over this course and distance on Arc day. Bursting onto the international stage in the Juvenile Fillies Turf at Santa Anita the following month, she faced a tough task coming straight to this competitive renewal, even if it did look below-par in substance beforehand. Despite her favorable draw, the bay was reserved early by Christophe-Patrice Lemaire and lost vital ground as the rush to gain prominence began. As the race unfolded, it became evident that her skilled rider had chosen the perfect rival to stalk, as Esoterique glided through the pack just ahead. Allowing that previously unbeaten filly to take her into the fresh air, she surrendered a two-length advantage to the Rothschild homebred as she took the baton from her stable companion Tasaday (Nayef) approaching the furlong pole. Esoterique refused to give up her lead easily, but there was a sense of the inevitable as soon as Flotilla found her top stride and she was ultimately a cozy winner at the line.

"She had been slow to come to hand after the winter and there is always a doubt as to whether they are really fit or not," commented Mikel Delzangles, whose What a Name (Ire) (Mr. Greeley) had proved a notable flop in the 1,000 Guineas Gr.1 a week previously. "We will have to make the decision now whether to step up in trip and go for the Prix de Diane Gr.1 [at Chantilly June 16] or stay at a mile for the Coronation S. Gr.1 [at Royal Ascot June 21]."

The latter race is where the runner-up is headed, according to owner-breeder Baron Edouard de Rothschild. "She has justified the decision to supplement and we are very happy, as this run was very close after her last one," he explained. "Maybe she idled a bit in front, but she has run very well. She will go to Royal Ascot for the Coronation now."

Date: 13 May 2013