09/27/2003 12:00AM

Falbrav shines in QEII victory - but BC iffy


ASCOT, England - Falbrav gave another brilliant effort to win the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.

In scoring his fourth Group 1 victory of the year and the seventh of his career, Falbrav won for the first time at a mile since winning his maiden in his career debut in September 2000. The victory follows an unlucky loss to High Chaparral in the Irish Champion Stakes, although trainer Luca Cumani's appeal to overturn that result and award the race to Falbrav will be heard by the Irish Turf Club on Oct. 20.

"He is the best horse in the world," Cumani proclaimed after Saturday's victory.

The 14-horse Queen Elizabeth field was reduced to eight with the withdrawal of six horses because of the ground, which was labeled "good to firm, firm in places." Dubai Destination's rabbit Blatant went to the lead, but the 3-2 Falbrav settled well in second, followed by Dubai Destination and Russian Rhythm.

Entering the straight, Dubai Destination backed up while Falbrav, ridden by Darryll Holland, charged to the front at the three-sixteenths pole. Russian Rhythm threw down her challenge but Falbrav asserted himself to win by two lengths, traveling the largely uphill mile in a fast 1:38.99.

"I've never had a horse as good as Falbrav, and I doubt if I'll ever have one as good again," said Cumani, who is best known in America for training Barathea to victory the 1994 Breeders' Cup Mile. "He always has his mind on his work and never puts a foot wrong."

So add Falbrav's QEII triumph to victories this season in the 1 1/8-mile Prix d'Ispahan, and the Eclipse Stakes and Juddmonte International, both at 1 1/4 miles. But Cumani is still trying to convince owners Scuderia Rencati to ante up the $180,000 supplemental entry fee necessary to get this 5-year-old son of Fairy King into the Breeders' Cup Turf.

As for Russian Rhythm, she is unlikely to run in the Mile, while plans for Godolphin's Dubai Destination are on hold after his last-place finish.

Also on Saturday's card:

* After Moscow Ballet finished second in the Royal Lodge Stakes, trainer Aidan O'Brien withdrew all of his remaining runners on the card, among them the Fillies Mile favorite, Necklace. That made the task of Red Bloom easier. Trained by Michael Stoute for Cheveley Park Stud, Red Bloom won the Group 1 mile for 2-year-old fillies at 3-1, defeating Sheikh Mohammed's Japanese-bred Sundrop by 1 1/4 lengths with the 8-5 choice Puctillious, a recent purchase by Sheikh Mohammed, a head farther back in third.

* Snow Ridge came with a scintillating late run to snatch the Royal Lodge Stakes for 2-year-olds by three-quarters of length over Moscow Ballet. Trained by Marcus Tregoning, Snow Ridge had won his only previous start, a seven-furlong allowance at Kempton by 3 1/2 lengths.

Martin Dwyer timed his ride perfectly in guiding Snow Ridge to a 9-5 victory in the Group 2 mile. Moscow Ballet, a Sadler's Wells half-brother to Stravinsky, got up for second by a head over Rule of Law, who had opened up a two-length lead approaching the furlong pole. The winning time was 1:41.19, which lasted as the new Ascot track record for juveniles going a mile for just 35 minutes - until Red Bloom was timed 1:40.81 in the Fillies Mile.