Upgraded to Group One status in 2004, the £185,000 Falmouth Stakes, sponsored by Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways, is one of the most prestigious races of the season for fillies and mares.
Established in 1911, the mile contest is named in honour of the sixth Viscount Falmouth, one of the leading owner/breeders of the 19th century, who was responsible for 16 English Classic victories between 1857 and 1883.
Initially for three-year-olds only, the Falmouth Stakes was opened up to older fillies and mares in 1973. Appropriately, the inaugural running in 1911 fell to Alice, owned by the seventh Viscount Falmouth, son of the sixth Viscount, although few would have got rich backing the 1/10 favourite.
During its early history, the Falmouth Stakes was dominated by trainer Alec Taylor, known as “The Wizard of Manton”, who recorded six successes with First Spear (1914), Tomatina (1919), Lady Ava (1920), Blue Lady (1921), Leighon Tor (1922) and Maid Of Bath (1924).
Happy Laughter in 1953 became the first filly to win both the 1000 Guineas and Falmouth Stakes in the same season. Waterloo, in 1972, is the only other to have taken the two Newmarket contests.
The Sir Michael Stoute-trained Sonic Lady won the first running of the Falmouth Stakes with Group Two status in 1987, having also scored 12 months earlier. The Nureyev filly was a truly outstanding performer, having also won the Irish 1,000 Guineas, Coronation Stakes, Sussex Stakes and Prix du Moulin – all Group One events.
Between 1993 and 1995, the combination of owner Lord Carnarvon and trainer Richard Hannon reigned supreme. Niche coasted home by an impressive three and a half lengths in 1993, while Lemon Souffle was not hard pressed to record a length and a quarter success a year later. The duo notched their third successive win in 1995 with Caramba, but this time the winning margin was just a short-head.
The German raider Proudwings made history when she was victorious in 2001 by two lengths. Trained by Cologne-based Ralf Suerland and ridden by leading Japanese jockey Yutaka Take, Proudwings was the first German-trained winner of a Pattern race in Britain since Star Appeal in the 1975 Eclipse Stakes at Sandown.
The 2004 renewal, the first with Group One status, saw the 1000 Guineas heroine Attraction take on the older generation for the first time. Mark Johnston’s charge ran well, but went down by two and a half lengths to the other star filly of the season, Soviet Song, losing her unbeaten record in the process.
Soviet Song returned in 2005 to defend her title and did so in style, comfortably defeating Alexander Goldrun by two and a half lengths under regular pilot Johnny Murtagh (who had been on board in 2004), albeit in a slower time than the previous year.
The star mare was looking for the hat-trick in 2006, but there was to be no fairytale for her owners, the Elite Racing Club, as she could only finish a disappointing sixth. At the business end, Rajeem, an unconsidered 50/1 outsider, came out on top in a sprint finish under Kerrin McEvoy to land another big race prize for veteran trainer Clive Brittain, celebrating his second victory in the race after Gussy Marlowe in 1992.
Johnny Murtagh rode his third Falmouth Stakes winner on the Jeremy Noseda-trained 1000 Guineas third Simply Perfect in 2007, while Nahoodh in 2008 provided trainer Mark Johnston and jockey Frankie Dettori each with a first victory in the race.
The great French champion Goldikova, trained by Freddie Head, landed the fourth Group One race of a prolific top-flight career when winning the Etihad Airways Falmouth Stakes in 2009, en route to a sensational second successive victory in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita that November.
Pictured: Sir Michael Stoute