Ralph Beckett is targeting a Group One double in France this weekend with Angel Bleu and Scope.
Angel Bleu is out to bag his second top-level prize of the autumn in Saturday’s Criterium International at Saint-Cloud following his victory in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at ParisLongchamp three weeks ago.
With Frankie Dettori again in the saddle, hopes are high that the son of Dark Angel can once again strike Group One gold.
Reflecting on Angel Bleu’s success, Beckett told Sky Sports Racing: “It was very satisfying. He had to run down Charlie Appleby’s colt and won well in the end. He’s a true professional.
“He thrives on his work to an extraordinary degree. He started at Leicester in April and really hasn’t missed a beat.
“The only reason he didn’t run through August and September was because ground conditions weren’t there for him.
“We haven’t had to do much with him between Longchamp and Saint-Cloud on Saturday.”
Connections also had the option of running in Saturday’s Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster and Beckett admits it was a close call between the two.
He added: “It wasn’t (an easy choice) at all because there was a feeling that as he’s become more straightforward, the straight track at Doncaster would hold no fears for him.
“Frankie in particular was quite keen that we considered it, (but) in the end I think we felt that the formbook is saying he’s better round a bend, so Saint-Cloud was an easier decision.
“They say the ground is going to be soft and he’s proven on that ground.
“It seems like we’ve got all our ducks in a row. It won’t be easy – I think Ancient Rome in particular will improve from his run in the Lagardere (finished third).
“We’re going to be have to be at our best to hold him off.”
The following afternoon Angel Bleu’s stablemate Scope will return to the highest level for the two-mile Prix Royal-Oak at ParisLongchamp.
Sixth in the St Leger on his penultimate start, the three-year-old was last seen running out a wide-margin winner of the Noel Murless Stakes at Ascot.
“I thought Rob Hornby was very cool on him. The horse doesn’t give you very much and you could see from Swinley Bottom, Rob was smacking him down the neck to keep him into his bridle,” said Beckett.
“But in the end, he’s done it really well and clearly it was a very good effort.
“In the spring things didn’t quite go as we’d hoped for him and he had a problem after the Lingfield Derby Trial.
“I really wasn’t at all sure how he’d run in the Voltigeur and I was hugely encouraged by that run.
“He rather fluffed his lines at the start in the St Leger – we felt he could have finished a lot closer if that hadn’t happened – and then it all came together at Ascot, albeit at a lower level.
“He’s going to have to be at his very best on Sunday, but he’s had a shortish year and it really seemed like it was a bet to nothing to take him.
“He’s worked well since Ascot and looks terrific. It’s going to be tough for him, but the trip, ground and track should all suit him really well.”