05/20/2002 12:00AM

Banks Hill loses in comeback


Banks Hill failed as the 3-5 favorite as a revivified Best Of The Bests beat her into third place in the Group 1 Prix d'Ispahan at Longchamp on Sunday.

In a return to the front running tactics which had earned him victories in the Prix Guilluame d'Ornano as a 3-year-old and in Round 2 of the Maktoum Challenge at four, Best Of The Bests repelled the challenge of Banks Hill in mid-stretch and had enough to hold off Poussin to win the 1 1/8-mile, 55-yard contest by half a length. Banks Hill was another length behind in third with Execute last in the field of four.

Coming off a distant seventh in the Dubai World Cup, the 3.90-1 Best Of The Bests was given a well-gauged ride by Frankie Dettori. The winning time of the Machiavellian 5-year-old was 1:51.40, maiking it the fastest Ispahan since Sagace clocked in 1:51.10 in 1985.

If Banks Hill had an excuse it was lack of conditioning. This was her first outing since her six-length romp in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf, the race which is her main objective again this year. She is likely to have another chance against Best Of The Bests in the 1 1/4-mile Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 19.

* Godolphin and Dettori also took the Group 2 Prix Vicomtesse Vigier with Wareed. The 6.60-1 son of Sadler's Wells landed the 1 15/16-mile Group 2 event by 2-1/2 lengths from Speedmaster and will try the 2 1/2-mile Ascot Gold Cup next.

Marotta scored a 19.20-1 upset in the 1 1/4-mile Group 1 Prix Saint-Alary. Trained by Englishman Richard Gibson at Chantilly, the Highest Honor filly scored by a neck over the favored Bright Sky with Summertime Legacy third and Ana Marie fourth. All four of them are expected to meet again in the Prix de Diane (French Oaks) on June 9.

* Keltos became the first European horse to be announced for the Breeders' Cup after his impressive 3-1/2-length victory in the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes at Newbury on Saturday. Having overcome a lack of room at the quarter pole, the 4-year-old son of Kendor ran on strongly under Olivier Peslier to hand the 5-6 Noverre a resounding defeat. Afterwards, Keltos's owner Gary Tanaka said that his 9-1 winner would run next in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood on July 31 with the Breeders' Cup Mile his ultimate goal.

Another refugee form the Dubai World Cup, in which he was eighth, Keltos had previously taken the Group 2 Prix du Muguet. His time on the straight Newbury mile Saturday was 1:38.69.