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Matt’s Blog: On Wind and Winners…

News finally emerged this week of the BHA's intention to record surgical interventions to improve horses' breathing. Commonly known as wind operations, these have been contentious in the punting domain largely because of the frequency with which good animals who'd lost their way stepped forward after a subsequently declared tie back/palate fire, etc.

Along with many others, I've been blethering on about the need for transparency on such matters for years (see for instance this eye-opening post from January 2015). And, more recently, I've been able to support the Horseracing Bettors' Forum push for this information to be presented in the public domain as a member of that group.

Now let's get this straight: when the information appears on racecards from 19th January next year, we should not all be charging to back any horse which has received an epiglottal intervention. A breathing op cannot make a slow horse fast. That's not the point.

The point is that all data are good data inasmuch as they extend the knowledge vista of punters minded to engage. In plain English, we get to know trainers who are selective with their calls to the vet, and those who have the surgeon on speed dial. We get to know how much, if at all, on average a wind op improves a horse. We get to know whether it improves a horse on its very next run, or subsequently. We get to know if it improves a horse at all!

So this will be no panacea. But, of course, you knew that already, right? Moreover, the information will be generic, making no account of the severity of the procedure. It seems sensible to trust the vet/trainer/owner axis to make the right call on the appropriate operation.

By the end of next year, we'll have a view on plenty of things in this space, with the utility of that new information not solely confined to bettors. No, the owner, trainer and breeder communities - those crying foul right now - all stand to benefit in time from better awareness of exactly what they're buying. Sure, in the short term it could show certain stallions in a poorer light. But, by the time most sires have come into and gone out of fashion, there will be evidence to support breeding and buying decisions. That has to be a good thing, regardless of the myopic outpourings from some stakeholder groups this week.

As a punter, I welcome this news. As an owner, I welcome this news. As a purchaser at sales, I welcome this news. As for trainers or consignors, they may be less open-armed but that may be because they have something they'd prefer to hide. And they may not. Ahem.

geegeez.co.uk will naturally be displaying the wind op 'W' on our cards as soon as we have the data to do that. It has been suggested that the notation will only appear on the first run after an op, but we will likely indicate how many runs since an intervention. I'm thinking we'll probably also make it clear in the full form of a horse when a wind op (or multiple ops) has/have happened.

And, in time, we'll add this to our Query Tool, allowing users to interrogate data pertaining to trainers, stallions, whatever. This information will not be useless: no information is useless. But it is very likely to have less 'point and shoot' utility than some hope for. After all, if it did, it would be immediately factored into market prices, further improving some mugs' ability to find winners at the expense of profit. No, time will tell how we can best engage with the data. But not having the data has ceased to be an option.

Let us also hope this is the beginning of a more open information age in British racing. HBF - and others - have been asking for more on race mares in foal, horse weights, and for the tightening of data collection and dissemination around such as going readings and race distances. Perhaps one day horses off the track for, say, a year or more will be required to be entered with a reason for their absence; and maybe all surgical interventions will be declared.

That's for another day. For now, we as punters - but also as owners, trainers and breeders - should be pleased that we have more information on which to base our investment decisions.

*

Anthony Honeyball is a trainer in form right now. Five winners from his last six runners, comprised of a first career treble and a double, have hinted at a better standard of horse in the yard this term. But it is perhaps the breadth of job those horses do which has been most heartening: a juvenile hurdle, a staying handicap chase, a handicap hurdle, a novice chase, and a National Hunt Flat race comprised that recent quintet of victories.

Anthony, whose yard geegeez.co.uk is delighted to sponsor and to support with runners, is a very smart operator. Since 2009, his record in all handicaps - ALL handicaps! - is a 20% win strike rate and a profit at SP of 107.61 points. That's from 554 runners making an ROI of 19.42%. At starting price. It is hard to argue with such consistent performance over such a long time, and there remains, bizarrely in my opinion, value in betting his runners.

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Anthony actually started training at around the same time geegeez' forerunner, Nag Nag Nag, first appeared on computer screens, back in 2006. This website began in 2008 and moved into the racecard/form tool game in 2013. So we're still pretty new to it, but I hope we've made some very solid progress since inception. There is much more I/we want to do, most of it suggested by you, our loyal subscriber.

Away from the form book functionality, sponsorship is important in establishing 'the brand' to the wider racing world, on racecourses. All of Anthony's horses are decorated with the geegeez.co.uk logo, either on the breast of the jockey's silks or on the paddock sheets and rugs the horses wear in the parade ring before and after racing or, in most cases, both.

We also sponsor a couple of flat jockeys. David Probert has recently signed up for another three years, and he's an excellent ambassador for us. David rides around 800 horses a year, each time flashing the geegeez red, white and blue to a racecourse and specialist TV - in homes and betting shops - audience. Moreover, he rides a lot of winners: 92 so far this year and counting. That puts him in the top 15 jockeys, by number of winners, in Britain, ahead of the likes of Jamie Spencer, William Buick, and Frankie Dettori, and on a par with Paul Hanagan (former champion jockey) and Andrea Atzeni.

David is an excellent jockey who, as well as riding for Andrew Balding, is called upon by Godolphin, Sir Michael Stoute, and many of Newmarket's other biggest guns. A dedicated professional who gets his head down in an unfussy way, he arguably should get more opportunities. Be that as it may, he's an asset to the sport and I'm delighted that we're able to support him, and he us.

geegeez.co.uk has also just agreed to extend Mitch Godwin's sponsorship agreement for another year. Mitch has ridden 25 winners so far this year, and is on the 54 winner mark overall. He'll receive a three pound claim until hitting 95 career winners, and I'm personally looking forward to seeing how he'll improve next year. Mitch is undoubtedly a better rider now than a year ago, and there's every likelihood we'll again be able to say that in twelve months' time.

From a personal perspective, it's an absolute pleasure to work with such dedicated professionals, to support them, and to enjoy their support of the geegeez.co.uk brand. With their, and your, help we'll keep growing.

*

I sloped off to France earlier in the week. Somewhere between a jolly boys' outing and a business trip, I met up with Anthony Honeyball and Jeremy Blackburn, husband of Anthony's racing secretary and keen supporter of the yard, at Portsmouth Harbour. The overnight ferry beckoned with its welcoming bar and less hospitable 'executive chair' sleeping arrangement.

The purpose of the trip was to scout the middle day of Arqana's three day sale at Deauville. Our itinerary was set: alight the ferry at Caen, drive the hour to Deauville and, specifically, to Chez Huggins. Ron is best known as owner of the fantastic Ascot Gold Cup and three-time Goodwood Cup winner, Double Trigger. But he's had plenty of other good ones, including a nice juvenile hurdler called Jukebox Jive, which formed the opening leg of Anthony's Sunday triple at Fontwell.

Over coffee and pastries - oh, go on then, just one more - we discussed Ron's shortlist, slavishly arrived at through consideration of dam sires, dam's progeny and the likelihood of the sire being dual purpose (flat and jumps). For someone who has a pretty good handle on the form book but barely a toehold on the pedigree book, this was a masterclass delivered by an experienced - and proven - practitioner.

Armed with the subset of the catalogue of most interest to us, we headed to the sales yard to inspect the possibles. This is where Anthony took centre stage, examining limbs, gaits, and conformation. Ron is no slouch in this department either and made an ideal foil. From the shortlist of fifteen, just three were deemed worthy of a bid. This trio was arrived at over an excellent lunch where we were emboldened by a couple of bottles of claret, and the presence, to our immediate left, of racing royalty: Freddy and Criquette Head. It was a thrill to relive a couple of their finest memories - Goldikova's third Breeders' Cup Mile, Treve's second Arc - and they were generous with their time and gracious in their 'fan management'. [Incidentally, I remain primarily a fan of the sport, in spite of how business has interloped]

Lunch eaten - drunk mainly, in truth - the bidding began. Anthony was interested in the very first lot, but was outbid by the vendor. Offered the horse later at his closing bid, he decided to keep counsel until all of the lots holding our interest had passed under the hammer.

The proud acquisition, a gorgeous yearling filly by Solider Of Fortune out of Heartbreak City's dam

The proud acquisition, a gorgeous yearling filly by Solider Of Fortune out of Heartbreak City's dam

A short time later came lot 320, a cracking little filly yearling by Soldier Of Fortune, out of a dam called Moscow Nights. Dad has shown himself to be the epitome of a dual purpose sire, and has plenty of good ones both on the level and over hurdles, including most recently Soldier In Action, who won a Class 2 two mile handicap last night off top weight and a mark of 106.

Mum was owned by the Wildenstein ecurie, and stayed well. She is most notably the dam of Heartbreak City, winner of the Ebor and an agonisingly close second in the Melbourne Cup last year. Those high profile, and extremely lucrative - the Ebor is Europe's richest handicap - flat performances followed a win in a competitive Galway Festival handicap hurdle. This was precisely the sort of dual purpose pedigree we were searching for.

Bidding was keen in the early go, with probably half a dozen hands moving the price to €20,000. That was a ceiling for most, but the filly continued to ascend, up to €25,000. One more nod of the Honeyball head was enough to seal the deal, however, and this little charmer will be heading to Potwell Farm at the earliest opportunity, knocked down for €26,000. I'll be syndicating her shortly, with - as always - first priority going to existing syndicate members.

The plan will be for her to have a run or two next year prior to a full flat campaign as a three-year-old and then go juvenile hurdling. Thereafter, we'll see where she takes us. If she's within a furlong of her half-brother we'll have a lot of fun!

Ron was less fortunate. He sold one for little more than he'd have kept her for, and failed in his attempts to secure a couple of others, out-funded by the bottomless pockets of Highflyer Bloodstock, who were extremely active.

A very enjoyable dinner in Trouville - and more wine - was followed by the ferry bar and that 'executive chair' for a far less enjoyable kip: the imperfect end to what was a fantastic jaunt.

Matt

Deauville Festival: Prix Morny Preview

Lady Aurelia seeks Group 1 glory at Deauville

Champion American juvenile filly LADY AURELIA puts her unbeaten record on the line when she tackles the Group 1 Prix Morny at Deauville on Sunday, writes Nigel Howard.

There was much anticipation that this race would see a tantalizing clash between the runaway winner of the Queen Mary Stakes at the Royal Meeting and Coolmore’s recent facile Phoenix Stakes winner Caravaggio. Sadly, Aiden O’Brien has decided to side-step the encounter and is now preparing the current 2000 Guineas favourite for a crack at Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket in September.

The presence of LADY AURELIA has clearly scared off much of the opposition and ultimately only four will take up the challenge against the daughter of Scat Daddy over the straight six furlongs at the Normandy track.  The Morny has been her main objective since her Ascot romp, and trainer Wesley Ward plotted the same path with his previous winner of this Group 1 contest, No Nay Never in 2013. The filly arrived in France on Sunday and has been ticking over at the Deauville training centre in preparation.

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This race has provided rich pickings for the English over recent years and indeed trainer Clive Cox returns here after victory with Reckless Abandon in 2012. He runs TIS MARVELLOUS who is in the same ownership as his previous winner and who also captured the Group 2 Prix Robert Papin at Maisons-Laffitte ‘en route’ to this event. After that effort, Cox reported, "He took a little while to come to hand… but he is a proper horse who is going the right way and I am delighted."

The Papin provides us with a notable form line through the Al Shaqab Racing-owned filly AL JOHRAH, who finished two-and-a-half lengths second to the son of Harbour Watch but who was previously seven lengths adrift of LADY AURELIA at Ascot in the Queen Mary. TIS MARVELLOUS is therefore some way behind the favourite but the manor of his victory at Maisons-Laffitte really impressed and he is obviously a smart juvenile.

Aiden O’Brien hasn’t won this coveted prize since Johannesburg stormed to victory back in 2001. Having pulled Caravaggio from the race, his sole representative is PEACE ENVOY who comes here on the back of a smooth Group 3 success at the Curragh in July. A son of first-season sire Power, that was his sixth career start and he is thriving on his racing. He represents the most experienced horse in the race by far.

With AL JOHRAH seemingly well held by both LADY AURELIA and TIS MARVELLOUS, the home team will consider the Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned/Freddie Head-trained ALRAHMA as their best hope of glory. She, like the favourite, is unbeaten after two starts and deserves her place in the line-up after the daughter of Shamardal landed the Group 3 Prix de Cabourg over six furlongs at this track at the end of July.

Without the presence of Caravaggio, this looks like the perfect stage for LADY AURELIA to claim her first Group 1 prize. TIS MARVELLOUS also looks to be a class act and although he might not be quick enough to catch the wonder filly, she may at least know she’s been in a race.

Deauville Festival: Prix Maurice de Gheest Preview

Top class flat racing comes thick and fast at this time of year and as the curtain came down on Glorious Goodwood on Saturday, France kicked off its summer racing festival in the chic town of Deauville, writes Nigel Howard.

At this time, it seems the entire flat racing fraternity migrates to the Normandy coast, which boasts a vast training centre and two hippodromes (La Touques and Clairefontaine) for an equine bonanza comprising twenty-eight days of quality racing spread across the month of August. Add to this the famous Yearling Sales and it becomes abundantly clear why Deauville is the perfect summer location for racing enthusiasts and professionals alike.

Sunday saw the first of five Group 1 contests to be held over the month, the Prix Rothschild, run over the straight mile for fillies and mares. In the event we were treated to a scintillating display by the Al Shaqab Racing-owned QEMAH for the all-conquering Jean-Claude Rouget. Rouget was recording an astonishing seventh Group 1 win this season.

Previous winners of the Rothschild, such as the brilliant Goldikova, have gone on to further Group 1 glory at the festival by lifting the showcase event, the Prix Jacques Le Marois, later in the month but sadly, that will not be route taken by this outstanding daughter of Danehill Dancer as Rouget stated she will next head to Leopardstown for the Matron Stakes on September 10th

The Group 1 action continues this weekend with a top class bunch of sprinters taking centre stage in the Prix Maurice de Gheest run over a straight 1300 metres (6½ furlongs). Established in 1922, the race was named after a former racing official at the course and was reduced to its current distance (from seven furlongs) in 1966. It was originally a Group 3 contest but was elevated to Group 2 in 1980, before achieving Group 1 status in 1995.

Won last year by the Charlie Hills-trained champion three-year-old sprinter, Muhaarar, this year’s renewal has drawn an impressive field of seventeen, nine of which herald from the Classic generation.

A strong British contingent is headed by DUTCH CONNECTION who looks to have an outstanding chance after a mighty performance at Goodwood in the Lennox Stakes a fortnight earlier over seven furlongs. The drop in trip is a slight concern as all his best efforts are over further. However, a quick reappearance after his Goodwood exploits would suggest that last year’s winning trainer believes the four-year-old son of Dutch Art remains in good order, and this looks a good opportunity for him to score at the highest level.

Equally, ex-French trained SUEDOIS, now with David O’Meara, would also have solid claims based on his creditable second behind the impressive Limato in the July Cup last time. That was clearly a step up on his previous form and a reproduction of that Newmarket run would see the progressive five-year-old son of Le Havre go close to the frame.

Adding a truly international flavour to the race, GOLD FUN will attempt to give ex-French based handler Richard Gibson a welcome return to Deauville since jetting off to train in Hong Kong back in 2012. The seven-year-old is a triple Group 1 winner at Sha Tin and most recently ran a gallant second to Twilight Sun in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot. Gibson was delighted with that performance and given the fact that the son of Le Vie Dei Colori might have won given an extra half furlong, the step up in trip is sure to suit. Christophe Soumillon again takes the ride as GOLD FUN bids to become the first Hong Kong-based horse to win on French turf.

SIGNS OF BLESSING was another to make a bold showing in that Ascot showcase and who just missed out on second to GOLD FUN on the line. That was his best performance to date but the feeling is he was running out of steam that day and this longer trip won’t suit.

Third in last year’s race, GORDON LORD BYRON bounced back to something like his best at the Curragh last time and has to be respected. The old boy likes to get his toe in so any give in the ground would aid his cause.

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Les Français would seemingly have the best of the classic generation, though, with the Andre Fabre-trained JIMMY TWO TIMES topping the list. He was quietly fancied when he ran in the French 2000 Guineas earlier in the year but finished a disappointing tenth. Sprinting is obviously his game as before that contest he was a head second to top speedster, Quiet Reflection, in a Group 3 over six furlongs at Chantilly and has since scored twice over six furlongs at this track, most recently in the Group 3 Prix de la Porte Maillot. There is a suspicion that he needs soft ground to produce his very best form which is no surprise being a son of French sire, Kendargent. It will require a career best performance to claim the spoils, but if the heavens open on Sunday, he may be able to take that step forward.

The Wertheimer & Frere-owned ATTENDU is another to have shown himself more adept at shorter distances after faltering at Classic level. The son of Acclamation bounced back from a poor effort in the Poule d’Essai des Poulains to thrash a below par Esoterique over seven furlongs here in early June. He has not run since so comes here fresh and is another whose form suggests he prefers a soft surface. He remains relatively unexposed and given his conditions, he can be considered.

Winner of a Group 3 over six furlongs last time, DAMILA is the only filly in the race and she too looks an interesting prospect. Trained by Henri-Alex Pantall, who has a good record with his sprinters, she beat LOVE SPIRIT last time at Maisons-Laffitte and is obviously on the upgrade. The Loire-based handler is doubly represented as he also saddles BLACK MAX who, up to now, has been campaigned solely over a mile. This drop in trip might suit but it is a serious hike in class for the son of French miler, Fuisse.

The British based three-year-olds make less appeal with the Hugo Palmer-trained GIFTED MASTER looking the best of them. However, he was beaten three-and-a-half lengths by DUTCH CONNECTION at Goodwood and to turn the tables on his older rival looks a tall order.

Aiden O’Brien runs last season’s champion two-year-old AIR FORCE BLUE and again he holds a prominent position in the market even though he has failed to spark in any of his races thus far. He is overlooked.

In summary, the feeling is that this race is set up for the older horses and indeed they have won seven of the last ten editions of the race. With the lack of a true champion in the line-up, DUTCH CONNECTION has a great opportunity to lift his first Group 1 prize. GOLD FUN looks next best after a promising run at the Royal meeting and has been laid out for the race.

A herd of unexposed three year olds makes this a fascinating contest with JIMMY TWO TIMES and ATTENDU the stand out candidates. They are both currently available at 14/1 and any positive movement in the market for either should be closely monitored.

Going forward, the Prix Jacques Le Marois run on Sunday 14th August is the highlight of the meeting and this year’s event looks sure to live up to expectations.

A whole host of top class milers are currently declared for the 2016 renewal including the likes of 2000 Guineas winner GALILEO GOLD, Godolphin’s RIBCHESTER and Hamdan Al Maktoum’s Irish 2000 Guineas winner, AWTAAD. They could be joined the Aga Khan’s French 1000 Guineas winner, ERVEDAYA, last year’s winner, ESOTERIQUE, trained by Andre Fabre, as well as his exciting VADAMOS who trotted up at Maisons-Laffitte recently.

Aidan O’Brien has declared many of his outstanding crop of three-year-olds including MINDING and THE GURKHA but it is more than likely that they will head to other engagements at York’s Ebor meeting. We will have to wait and see which of his equine stars take their chance.

The following day could see a shake up in the Arc market with a rematch between the first and second in the French Derby. What a race it could be if the Aga Khan’s ZARAK takes up the challenge against Jean-Claude Rouget’s Derby winner, ALMANZOR, in the Group 2 Prix Guillaume D'Ornano.

To add to the occasion, the Prix Eugene Adam’s first and second could also join the party in the shape of HESHEM for Al Shaqab Racing and Godolphin’s ULTRA, who won last year’s champion French juvenile event the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere but who only made his reappearance in the Maisons-Laffitte event at the end of June. Add to this the possible presence of Sir Michael Stoute’s recent Gordon Stakes winner, ULYSSES, and you have a race to savour. Let’s hope they all turn up on the day.

-Nigel Howard

 

Epsom Downpour And Moore

Heavy rain at Epsom has resulted in the word firm, being replaced by soft, as Derby Day approaches.

Speaking yesterday, clerk of the course Andrew Cooper said: “We had 20mm of steady rain in a six-hour spell. I walked the track at 2.30pm just after it had ceased, and I must say it has taken it quite well. I think it will settle down a bit now, and we’ll stick with good to soft, soft in places, overnight.”

Cooper added: “I don’t think there’s much in the way of rain to come. There’s the chance of showers around Wednesday lunchtime, but it’s a slowly improving picture, with the temperature picking up to 20C by Saturday. It’s not going to be rapidly drying weather – there’s no great sunshine forecast – but the course should dry out and I would expect us to lose the soft in places before too long and be good to soft for some time.”

As the weather did its bit to change the Epsom Derby picture, so did Ryan Moore, or did he? Rumours on social media seemed to suggest that he has chosen Deauville over US Army Ranger. The changing markets appeared to back-up the suggestions with plenty of money for Deauville whilst ‘Army Boy’ started to drift. The Dante runner-up was backed in to 7’s by Paddy Power, with the Chester Vase winner as big as 11/2 in places.

Betfair spokesman Barry Orr said: “There has been sustained support for two Ballydoyle Derby entries today, and neither was US Army Ranger.

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Rumours aside, there’s every chance that an ease in ground conditions will enhance the chances of race favourite Wings Of Desire. His pedigree; by Pivotal out of an In The Wings mare, points to a preference for soft ground. The mare in question is Gull Wing, and two of her three career victories came in testing conditions.

As Ballydoyle contenders jostled for position in the markets, so news came of another major contender. Owen Burrows’ Guineas runner-up has been largely forgotten since Newmarket, but that run behind Galileo Gold is arguably the strongest piece of form as we head towards Saturday’s Epsom showpiece.

Massaat also holds an entry in the French Derby, but Epsom remains the target, with Burrows yesterday saying: “We just thought we'd wait and see what the weather does at Epsom as well and give ourselves the option but I wouldn't read anything into it. I would say France will be even softer but we've left him in just in case. He's pleased us since the Guineas and has one little bit of work left to do. We're happy with him.”

Some have questioned whether Burrows’ fella will get the trip, but his sire Teofilo has produced an Irish Derby winner in Trading Leather, a Yorkshire Oaks winner in Pleascach, and the Irish St Leger winner Voleuse de Coeurs. Whilst I’m not sure how he’d get on in a Galileo Gold style DNA test, I’d wager he’ll see out the trip just fine.

The 237th Investec Derby is set to be one of the most competitive renewals in living memory, and over the coming days will undoubtedly provide us with further twists and turns. The fact that no fewer than four were supplemented for the race on Monday, goes to show the open nature of the event. Of the 18 likely to go to post, few could be discounted with any amount of confidence.

TV Trends – 17th Sept

Ayr Gold Cup

Dandy Eyes a 7th Gold Cup

Did you know there's only been ONE winning favourite in Saturday's William Hill Ayr Gold Cup since 1986? Plenty more trends nuggets like this as Andy Newton takes a look at ALL the live C4 races this weekend. Read more

Victory on Dream Ahead for Buick

The move up to Group One company was no problem for Dream Ahead giving a stylish performance for a victory in the Darley Prix Morny at Deauville.

William Buick

William Buick

After his début victory at Nottingham by nine lengths, the David Simcock charge was sent off at 8-1, quickened well in response to jockey William Buick one and a half furlongs out, to challenge for the lead and move to the front of the field 150 yards out.

Buick, despite Dream Ahead veering off the straight line, got his mount clear of the field crossing the line one and a half lengths in front of runner up Tin Horse.

Simcock comments, "It was a very good performance and he was very professional. "He has plenty of ability and plenty of speed, he did it very nicely; it was cosy in the end.

"He's always shown us he's got plenty of ability. We probably took the brave route coming here after just one run, but we talked about it on Monday and decided we'd have a go.

"We'll see how he is, but I would say we'll look at the Middle Park Stakes and the Dewhurst. That's for further down the line, though."

Commenting on owner Khalifa Dasmal, Simcock added, "It's fantastic to have a Group One winner and I'm probably most grateful to the owner, who has probably been my longest serving owner."

Makfi Surprise Victory at Deauville

Champion milers Goldikova and Paco Boy had to settle for second and third place respectively after Makfi delivered a sensational performance to grab victory in the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville.

Deauville Racecourse

Deauville Racecourse

His disappointing display in the St James's Palace Stakes was a past memory, as the winner of the 2000 Guineas proved his Classic victory was not just good luck.

Trained by Mikel Delzangles, the colt with Christophe Soumillon aboard went to the front within the last furlong, drawing clear from the rest in the rain softened conditions to win easily by two and a half lengths from runner up Goldikova, with Paco Boy following back by a neck in third place and a six length gap to Fuisse in fourth.

Saying and Only Green, Goldikova's pacemaker duo, unsurprising got out in front, with the superb mare hot on their heels attempting an eleventh Group One victory.

Soumillon had Makfi well placed settling in sixth, while Paco Boy was at the back near the far side.

Goldikova went to the front as anticipated but she could not quite bring about her characteristic burst of speed in the trying circumstances, with Makfi, however, accelerating as he dashed to the front, getting away from his two gifted challengers.

Makfi coming back to form in such a wonderful way had trainer Delzangles clearly delighted to see.

"I'm delighted of course. We have been victorious and I was a bit disappointed after Ascot but we knew he was sick so there was a reason for that," said the trainer.

"The horse has proved again that he is a top miler.

"The ground doesn't bother him. He goes on any ground and is very easy to ride."

Dansant Grabs Win On Return From Injury

Dansant, the Gerald Butler trained six-year-old, won the 3rd leg of Hermes International Jockeys' Challenge, in the good hands of Olivier Peslier, at Deauville on Saturday with a victory by a short neck from Gentoo.

Olivier Peslier

Olivier Peslier

Starting in his first event for precisely a year due to being sidelined because of an injury after finishing in fourth place in the Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury last year.

"Dansant badly injured both knees in the Geoffrey Freer and then he nearly died of colic over Christmas, so it is fantastic to get him back and I am so happy," Butler said.

"We came here as we had no other options before running in the Anatolia Trophy in Turkey on the all-weather. This has been a happy hunting ground for me as I won the Prix Morny here with Elusive City."

The third running of the international challenge turned out to be a local derby, with French jockeys dominating the top placings. Maxime Guyon grabbed top spot after winning the second event riding Corconte, trained by Xavier Nakkachdji, with Stephane Pasquier in second place after his victory in the first leg on Fleur Enchantee, followed by Olivier Peslier in third place.

Last year's Melbourne Cup winning jockey, Corey Brown was among several jockeys riding at the Deauville track for the first time.

"This is my first time riding in France and it is very exciting," he said.

"I idolise some of the French jockeys and watch a lot of videos of their races at home. It is great to be able to compete against them and I would love to come back and do a three-month stint here."

Top Japanese jockey Hiroyuki Uchida made the journey over as well and commented, "I have really enjoyed riding in two races today although the results weren't that good for me.

"It was a very memorable experience and I hope I can come back again next year."

Dick Turpin Heads To France

Attempting a ten furlong event for his first time, Dick Turpin is readying for another journey to France where he will compete in the Prix Guillaume d'Ornano at Deauville on Sunday.

Deauville Racecourse

Deauville Racecourse

With his victory in the Prix Jean Prat last month, the Richard Hannon three-year-old will be carrying a 7lb penalty in this Group Two event.

"It would have cost us £60,000 to supplement Dick Turpin for the Juddmonte International at York, and as he is not entered in next Saturday's Hungerford Stakes at Newbury we have opted to head back across the channel," said Hannon.

"Richard Hughes is adamant that Dick Turpin will have the stamina for 10 furlongs, and France suits him as there is always the strong possibility that he will get a bit of dig in the ground out there.

"Even with his 7lb penalty, Dick Turpin stands head and shoulders above the likely opposition, and he will hopefully be very hard to beat next Sunday.

"He has been a star for us this season and after hitting the crossbar in both the English and French Guineas and also running a cracker at Royal Ascot, he thoroughly deserved his day in the sun at Chantilly, and he just seems to get better and better.

"Dick Turpin could then cross swords again with our own Canford Cliffs in the QEII at Ascot or maybe take on Paco Boy in the Prix du Moulin at Longchamp, but he has proved himself a very good horse, and we are all looking forward to Deauville, where we will also be in action at the sales next weekend," he commented on his website.

Victory for Regal Parade at Deauville

Getting his second Group One victory on the board was British raider Regal Parade, cementing his win with a steadfast performance at Deauville in the Prix Maurice De Gheest, travelling well for the trainer's son, jockey Adrian Nicholls.

Deauville Racecourse

Deauville Racecourse

Seeming like the most probable winner was smart filly Joanna, looking good as she swept up threateningly past the one-furlong marker, but it was a determined challenge by Regal Parade, coming from behind to overtake her within the final stages, over the line first by a neck.

High Standing trained by Willie Haggas, finished in third place, followed by Smooth Operator, trained by Mario Hofer, with the Barry Hills trained Prime Defender came in fifth.

The Dab Hand Racing syndicate that owns Regal Parade, enjoyed victory last month with Evens And Odds in the Stewards' Cup at Glorious Goodwood.

Jockey Adrian Nicholls said, "He's an ex-Mark Johnston horse and everyone knows how tough his horses are - and this horse is no different.

"The filly (Joanna) travelled really well and I wanted to try and get cover behind her if possible as it was a really rough race down on the inside.

"I'm not saying our horse travels as well as her but he does travel better when he's in behind them.

"I was a bit worried passing the furlong marker but my fellow has such a big heart and gave it his all at the finish.

"I'm not sure if there's anything for him beforehand but he'll definitely go back to Haydock for the Sprint Cup (September) which he won last year.

"After that we might look at the Prix de la Foret over seven furlongs at Longchamp."

Prime Defender Takes Aim at Deauville

The six and a half furlong Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville on Sunday has the connections of Prime Defender anticipating a top performance by the horse in the event.

Deauville Racecourse

Deauville Racecourse

The legitimate reason for his poor showing in the July Cup was that the horse was found to have thrown a plate when coming home in eleventh place behind Starspangledbanner.

"Unfortunately he pulled a shoe off in the July Cup and he was sore for a good three or four days afterwards," Hills' son and assistant Charlie said.

"We had to be easy with him and lay off for a week after that race. He's going well now again and we're looking forward to Sunday.

"We couldn't be more pleased with him. He was a little bit unfortunate with the draw at Ascot, but he wasn't beaten very far, about four lengths that day, so he ran a pretty good race there.

"Hopefully we can come on from that run.

"He's been around the world and he's got used to the travelling involved. It's a trip he should enjoy and the ground shouldn't be a problem.

"It looks a very open race now with Paco Boy not going so there are many horses in there with a good chance."

Goldikova Increases Group One Wins to Ten

Putting her up there among the greats, Goldikova, for the third year in a row, ran to victory in the Prix Rothschild at Deauville, which increased her Group One wins up to ten.

Goldikova

Goldikova

With the guidance of Olivier Peslier and in the front of the field from a furlong and a half out, the Freddie Head mare crushed all challengers as she won with wonderful dash, from Music Show.

About two furlongs out Peslier urged Goldikova forward and the event was more or less already won, with Mick Channon's charge Music Show challenging hard, but not getting anywhere near enough to worry the winning mare.

Mark Johnston's Rainfall with Kieren Fallon on board, the other British horse in the event, was a brief possibility but could not keep up the pace in the last furlong, waning out of the placings to pass the post fifth, with Elusive Wave in third over the line.

The triumph means Goldikova will now join Miesque as the only two horses to have won ten Group One events since the beginning in 1970.

Racing manager to owners the Wertheimer Brothers, Pierre-Yves Bureau, said, "Goldikova is a wonderful mare. She's incredible and today she did not have too hard a race.

"There is the Prix Jacques le Marois in two weeks' time and hopefully she will go for that.

"We'll see what she is like tomorrow, but it did not look like the race was too hard.

"Music Show was the main contender and she finished a good second.

"Last year she had a disappointing comeback in the Prix d'Ispahan, probably because of the very heavy rain just before the race.

"This year we are very proud she won at Ascot (in the Queen Anne Stakes) and what is great is that everything is going to plan so far with what was scheduled for her during the winter.

"There is a lot of credit to give to Freddie for keeping this fantastic filly at this level for so long. It's very important."

Zagora Fends Off British Invaders

Finishing in second and third place respectively were British trained starters Bikini Babe and Rumoush, failing in their bid to defeat the race favourite Zagora in the Prix de Psyche at Deauville.

Deauville Racecourse

Deauville Racecourse

There was a Stewards' Inquiry after the event into an incident involving the winner who, when finding a gap in the field just over a furlong out, bumped into Pearl Away while dashing clear.

The race results were upheld by the Inquiry and Zagora was awarded the win by half a length from Bikini Babe, with fourth place Rumoush a further three-quarters of a length behind.

"We should have won by five lengths," said winning jockey Ioritz Mendizabal.

Mendizabal also said, "I was never really worried because she has so much speed but we didn't have any run until 200 metres out. Finally we won with plenty in hand and today I had to rely on her brilliant acceleration."

Though putting on a good finish, Bikini Babe never really challenged Zagora once she broke clear, while Richard Hills and his mount Rumoush held a small lead midway up the straight before but did not increase the speed.

Rumoush's trainer Marcus Tregoning said, "She is a real galloper and wants a longer distance but we were a little disappointed today.

"I don't want to make any plans until I see how the filly comes out of the race."

Hills added, "We had every chance but she was disappointing. It was an even gallop but she needs the longer trip."