Skalleti set for Prix Foy prep before Champion Stakes

Jerome Reynier’s Skalleti will skip Deauville this weekend and head instead to the Prix Foy on his path to Ascot’s Qipco Champion Stakes.

The six-year-old has won all four starts this season, the two most recent successes coming in the Prix d’Ispahan at ParisLongchamp and the Bayerisches Zuchtrennen at Munich – both of which are Group One events.

A tilt at the Grand Prix de Deauville on Sunday was under consideration, but the going is set to be too quick for Skalleti’s liking, and Reynier has therefore declined to declare him.

The Group Two Prix Foy is now on the agenda, run over a mile and a half at ParisLongchamp on September 12.

“He is very good – we’re very happy with him,” said Reynier.

“We’ve decided not to go to the Grand Prix de Deauville because the ground is too firm, and by the end of the meeting it could be very patchy and dangerous for the horse.

“He might go for the Prix Foy, the prep race for the Arc.”

Skalleti is likely to take up the latter option instead of defending his Prix Dollar title, having won that race in both 2019 and 2020.

Reynier considers the contest to be too close to the gelding’s ultimate seasonal target, the Champion Stakes on October 16.

The grey finished second in the Ascot showpiece last season, two and a quarter lengths behind William Haggas’ Addeybb on soft ground.

A bid to go one better has long been the aim, and Reynier said: “We think the Prix Dollar – two weeks prior to the Champion Stakes, which is his aim – would be too close.

“We think the Prix Foy would be a better prep race. It’s five weeks prior to the Champion Stakes – but I’m just thinking about all the factors.

“The ground is a big factor, because we’d like to run him on soft ground, so we will keep our options open as well.

“It’s (the Champion Stakes) definitely our aim – we are targeting this race and trying to win it.”

Reynier also outlined the next steps for Marianafoot, who shares an owner with Skalleti and has an even longer unbeaten run – stretching back eight races.

The Prix Maurice de Gheest was his latest victory, a race in which he defeated Ed Walker’s July Cup hero Starman and Wesley Ward’s Commonwealth Cup winner Campanelle.

The Prix de la Foret, held at ParisLongchamp on October 3, is where the six-year-old will head next as he tries to extend his remarkable winning streak.

The Group One is also set to be the final race of Marianafoot’s career.

“We’re aiming for the Prix de la Foret for the Arc weekend – that will be his final race probably,” said Reynier.

“We’re happy with him – he’s in good shape and he’s won two Group races in Longchamp.

“That will be his final race, so we’ll be trying to be competitive.”

Jean-Claude Seroul owns both horses.

Reynier said: “They’re (the owners) so happy with both of them – for six-year-olds to be so competitive and in such great form is amazing for the team.

“We’re doing well. We’ve won 13 or 14 good races this year, and that is amazing.”

Reynier likely to bypass Marois date with Marianafoot

Prix Maurice de Gheest hero Marianafoot is unlikely to bid for a Group One double in the Prix Jacques Marois at Deauville on Sunday.

Jerome Reynier’s charge extended his remarkable winning sequence to eight in last weekend’s six-and-a-half-furlong feature, seeing off a British and Irish challenge that included Ed Walker’s July Cup winner Starman.

In the immediate aftermath, Reynier raised the possibility of Marianafoot turning out just seven days later for another top-level assignment, but he is now minded to give his charge a well-earned break.

He said: “To be honest with you, we are so happy with his Group One victory we don’t want to rush things.

“To be running in this category of race, you need to be 100 per cent sure your horse is fine. I’m very happy with him, but just seven days after the Maurice de Gheest, it (Marois) is coming a bit too soon.

“We respect him so much and have been so happy with his strike-rate and what he has been achieving.

“We are still waiting on the opposition and the way he feels, but I think we’ll probably wait a bit longer before running him back.”

Reynier has already identified the seven-furlong Prix de la Foret on Arc day at ParisLongchamp in early October as Marianafoot’s big objective for the autumn.

“He’s won twice over the seven furlongs in Longchamp, so the Prix de la Foret could be his target if the ground is not too soft. If the ground is good or good to soft, that will be his aim for sure,” the trainer added.

“There is the Prix du Moulin de Longchamp before that, but that is over a mile and if we really want to aim for the Prix de la Foret, we need to get the freshness back into him.

“We were planning for the Prix Maurice de Gheest back in January. At the time we were dreaming about it, but to see him win it like he did was really unbelievable.”

Marianafoot is one of two Group One-winning stars for Reynier along with last season’s Champion Stakes runner-up Skalleti.

The six-year-old is four from four this season and is being prepared for a return to Ascot in October.

Skalleti (second left) finished second to Addeybb in last year's Champion Stakes
Skalleti (second left) finished second to Addeybb in last year’s Champion Stakes (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Reynier said: “I’m very happy with Skalleti, he’s in good shape.

“We are aiming for the Champion Stakes and maybe he will go to the Grand Prix de Deauville at the end of the month if the ground is soft enough.

“We are not sure whether we will train him to try to win the Prix Dollar for a third time in a row as it is only two weeks before the Champion Stakes. It worked well last year as he won the Dollar and was second at Ascot, so we will see.

“Between him and Marianafoot they have won 12 races this year. Skalleti has won four Group races, Marianafoot has won three and they have won three Group Ones, which is just unbelievable.”

Monday Musings: Of Silly Season, Jerome, Maurice and Mariana

For the first half of my working time in Fleet Street, life was still very much as it had always been in the early years after World War 2, writes Tony Stafford. Initially the BBC was the only Channel either side of the hostilities but then, in 1955, ITV brought in the first commercial opposition and nine years later BBC2 came on stream.

The dailies had combined sales well into eight figures at the start of the 1960’s and I remember there were THREE London evening newspapers. Every Saturday the paper man came round with the “Classified” edition where the football results magically appeared in the “fudge” – stop press -minutes after the matches finished. Every paper boy on the street corners in Central London called “Star, News and Standard”, always in that order until the Star disappeared in 1960, as we and our dads queued to find out what had happened to our team.

New (as we knew it anyway) technology was anathema to the print unions in those days and the internet and social media were half a lifetime away.

As I said, newspapers were the principal provider of news: households without television exceeded those homes with the big piece of furniture and its tiny screen of hazy black and white (grey really) pictures in the corner of the living room.

In those days, when we got to August everything shut down as politicians, journalists, schools and many big industrial factories went on holiday. Back in Fleet Street for those left behind, and then later when the two ‘new’ channels were well established, we had what was universally known as the “Silly Season”.

Suddenly editors were looking for quirky stories of the famed “man bites dog” variety. Reporters were dispatched around the country for the oddest and unlikeliest events which from September on wouldn’t have seen the light of day.

In many ways British horseracing has been mired in a similar tradition perhaps more firmly than its other major competing nations in Europe. The silly season has not really been possible yet this year with the pandemic still extending its grip and the Olympic Games 2020 going on for the past fortnight in Covid-strangled Tokyo. But there’s still time!

Between Goodwood (concluded on July 31 this year) and the end of August only the four days of York interrupt the ordinary sausage-machine offerings, weekends of valuable handicaps apart. One welcome innovation this year has been the William Hill Racing League where a dozen teams of four trainers, each calling on a squad of 30 potential runners and with three jockeys attached to each team, compete in six races on six consecutive Thursday evenings. Two have been contested so far.

With £50,000 available from each race, the idea seems to owe much to the successful 22 years of the Shergar Cup, the latest edition of which at Ascot on Saturday was won by the women’s team headed up by Hayley Turner and starring Nicola Currie and French sensation, Mickaelle Michel.

Any boost to prize money is welcome though an initial look at the type of trainer capable of compiling a team of 30 is obviously one for the already-haves rather than wishful-thinking have-nots.

But say a Newmarket trainer has an 80-rated horse that might be running for a £5k or so first prize in the normal run of things, it can be in line for a £25,000 first prize in the Racing League. Thirty-six handsome prizes among the thousands of embarrassingly unrewarding ones only fix one leak while water continues to escape from the rest.

Just three highlights at York – the Juddmonte, Yorkshire Oaks and Nunthorpe – carry Group 1 status, but that still exceeds Ireland’s single Group 1 in the month, the Phoenix Stakes, staged yesterday at The Curragh.

There were two more Group 1 races across Europe yesterday, the Grosser Preis von Berlin over a mile and a half at Hoppegarten and Deauville’s Prix Maurice De Gheest over six and a half furlongs. That was the first of four races at that level during Deauville’s holiday season, but throughout the month the programmes are of a higher quality than anything we have here as Chantilly goes to the seaside.

There is a received understanding that good sprinters in France scarcely exist, its proponents pointing to the UK domination of the Prix de l’Abbaye on Arc Day each year. Only four French-trained horses have won the five-furlong dash in this century, namely Imperial Beauty (2001), Marchant D’Or (2008), Whizz Kid (2012) and Wooded last year.

When the three home-trained sprinters/seven-furlong horses lined up for the Maurice De Gheest yesterday, they were respectively on offer at 9-1, 92-1 and 69-1 in face of potentially strong opposition not just from the UK and Ireland but also the Wesley Ward-trained Golden Jubilee promoted winner, Campanelle.

That filly ran an awful race, finishing last, while Starman, winner of the July Cup at Newmarket last month and the 9-5 joint favourite with the Ward filly, ran third, to two of the home team. Well behind was an assortment of Group 1 and 2 winners and the recent Wokingham hero, Rohaan.

But at the head of the race, a relatively unheralded horse that had won each of his previous six races this year stormed away from the field to win comfortably. Marianafoot, a six-year-old entire, owned by his breeder M Jean-Claude Seroul, was making it eight wins in a row since mid-December and was providing another reminder of the talent of his 35-year-old trainer, Jerome Reynier, who is based in Marseille.

Reynier has been training in his own right for eight years and in 2020 climbed into the top ten trainers’ list in France for the first time, owing much to the exploits of another six-year-old, Skalleti, also owned by M. Seroul.

He had a Deauville win over an under-ripe Sottsass, subsequently winner of the Arc, and this year has won four in succession including two Group 1 races at home and in Germany.

Reynier is a self-confessed racing nut who recalls that, aged 14, he used to make little contribution in his classroom as he was usually busy studying bloodstock sales catalogues. Little wonder that he was a winner of a Godolphin Flying Start award in 2008. A period as a bloodstock agent buying for his father, also a racing fanatic, preceded his taking the plunge eight years ago.

The €300,000-plus first prize (including owner’s premium} strengthens his place in fifth in this year’s trainers’ table and he is in rarefied company.

Leading the charge in his customary private battle with Jean-Claude Rouget is Andre Fabre with 78 wins worth €3.9m from 130 horses. Rouget has 97 wins from 131 horses and trails Fabre by close to €300k in prizes. Fabre provided yesterday’s runner-up, the filly Tropbeau, who, unbelievably given her connections and her fourth in last year’s French 1,000 Guineas, was the 92-1 chance mentioned earlier.

The Maurice De Gheest was the twelfth Group 1 race to be contested in France in 2021 and Aidan O’Brien has won five of them from 11 horses. That is enough to put him just behind third-placed Frank Rossi who has needed 135 horses and 68 winners to keep his nose in front of the Ballydoyle maestro, now fine-tuning his York team which will include St Mark’s Basilica and Snowfall. Jerome Reynier, still in his mid-30’s, is a very solid fifth and destined to go higher with the top two no doubt feeling the long-term draft from behind.

The Brits played a minor role in France but two big wins for Newmarket stables in Germany and Ireland proved that if the races aren’t to be found at home, “have horsebox, will travel” is still the mantra.

Sir Mark Prescott sent two of Kirsten Rausing’s home-bred fillies to Hoppegarten, a track bought in 2008 by an old acquaintance of mine Gerhard Schoeningh. He was based in England around the turn of the century and, after asking me whether I could introduce him to Sir Henry Cecil, had some nice winners with him.

Hoppegarten, in what was the old East Berlin, is the only privately-owned racecourse in Germany and has been brought back to its former prominence by Gerhard. The big race, the Grosser Preis, went to Prescott’s smart four-year-old Alpinista and Luke Morris who had Godolphin’s Walton Street back in third. Additionally, Prescott’s Alerta Roja finished second in a Listed race on the card.

One of the enduring mysteries of the international breeding business is just how Tony O’Callaghan’s Tally Ho Stud can continue to produce stallions that immediately out-perform what might reasonably be expected.

We all know about Kodiac, now at €65k a pop after producing a string of high-class performers over the past decade, but how about Mehmas? Available at €7,500 last year having entered the stud at €12,500 but, after his first crop ran away with the first-season sire title, he was upped to €25k for this year.

Tally Ho has two interesting first crop sires this year, and both were available at a covering fee of €5k. Cotai Glory is far and away the leader in his division with 18 individual winners. Heading his list is the brilliantly-fast Atomic Glory, already twice successful with ease in a Group 3 and then Group 2 in France for Kevin Ryan. Atomic Glory looks an obvious favourite for the Prix Morny (G1) later this month at Deauville.

Tally Ho’s other €5k bargain is Galileo Gold, Hugo Palmer’s 2000 Guineas and St James’s Palace Stakes hero. Palmer acquired his son, now called Ebro River, for Galileo Gold’s owners Al Shaqab for 75,000gns out of Tattersall’s Book 2 last October. Yesterday the owners collected almost double that when Ebro River landed the aforementioned Group 1 Phoenix Stakes as a 12-1 shot having looked short of top-class in recent runs at the major summer meetings.

Both stallions will assuredly be moving up into the Mehmas bracket for the next covering season and with sons Roger and Harry nowadays adding youthful energy as well as brilliant talent-spotting to the legendary skills of Tony and his wife Anne, John Magnier’s sister, Tally-Ho will be on top for many years to come. They repeatedly find new stallions that suit the sort of owners and breeders who like two-year-old winners! Who doesn’t?

- TS

Marianafoot foils Starman and company in Maurice de Gheest

Marianafoot extended his winning streak when taking the Group One Larc Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville.

The Jerome Reynier-trained six-year-old cut through a top-class field of 12 to take the six-and-a-half-furlong contest at 11-1 under Mickael Barzalona.

Tropbeau, a 150-1 chance, was second, with Ed Walker’s July Cup hero Starman (15-8 favourite) finishing third on the very soft going.

Successful in 2017 and runner-up in 2019, the Kevin Ryan-trained veteran Brando again showed his liking for the race with a gallant fourth.

Reynier said: “I’m so happy, we’ve been aiming for this race for a few months. We were planning many different things beforehand, we tried him over a straight course back in April at Chantilly, but that was just a Listed race and it was a pretty weak race compared to this Group One level.

“In between he has won two Group Threes and this is above expectations, we are delighted with the horse as he just seems better than ever – a bit like Skalleti.

“We were very sad not to be able to race him last year because of his injury in Qatar, but now he’s come back as a six-year-old better than ever. We’re just so happy and we don’t know where he’s going to stop, it’s an amazing story.”

Marianafoot’s run now stretches to eight consecutive victories, and more big days could be ahead.

Reynier said: “He’s entered in the Prix Jacques le Marois in seven days’ time, but we are going to see how he copes with this race.

“We are aiming for the Prix de la Foret on Arc weekend and then maybe the Breeders’ Cup at the end of the year.”

Starman’s owner David Ward pointed to underfoot conditions being against Starman, whose Newmarket victory had come on good to firm ground.

He said: “Starman was beaten by the ground. We will have to travel outside Europe at some point to find ground that suits him.

“He still ran well, despite the conditions not being to his liking. The jockey confirmed our impression. On good ground, he’s a different horse.”

Wesley Ward’s Campanelle lost all chance at the start, having fly-leaped as the stalls opened and almost knocking Frankie Dettori out of the saddle.

Skalleti impresses with finishing flourish in German Group One

A second tilt at the Qipco Champion Stakes remains the primary objective for Skalleti after notching his second Group One victory in the Grosser Dallmayr-Preis at Munich on Sunday.

Jerome Reynier’s stable star found only the William Haggas-trained Addeybb too strong on Champions Day at Ascot in October and has returned seemingly better than ever this season.

After winning at Group Three and Group Two level in the spring, Skalleti claimed his first top-level success in the Prix d’Ispahan at ParisLongchamp at the end of May, narrowly beating Charlie Hills’ subsequent Summer Mile scorer Tilsit.

A hot favourite to follow up in Germany, the six-year-old was settled at the rear of the field for much of the 10-furlong contest by veteran French jockey Gerald Mosse.

And while he still a long way behind the pacesetting Tabera rounding the home turn, Skalleti ultimately made up the ground comfortably before powering clear for a dominant success.

Reynier said: “It was a good opportunity to add another Group One to his record. It seemed an easy race for him on paper, but you always worry something might go wrong.

“Gerald was very happy with him. They didn’t go very fast early on and he was out the back, but when he asked him to go he did it well.

“It was not our original plan to run him during the summer because we wanted to avoid all the travel and the firm ground, but this summer is pretty weird as it’s been pretty stormy with a lot of rain – and because the horse was in such good shape we said we had to go.

“To be heading back down south with another Group One victory is great.”

Last season Skalleti won the Prix Dollar just a fortnight before running in the Champion Stakes and his trainer is eyeing a repeat, with a potential run at Deauville next month also under consideration.

“If all goes well, we’ll probably go to the Prix Dollar before going back to Ascot. It worked quite well last year and we hope to win both races this year,” Reynier added.

“The Dollar and the Champion Stakes are only two weeks apart, but so many horses have run well on Arc weekend and then run well again on Champions Day at Ascot. If he’s in great shape and we’re very happy with him, we can give it a go.

“If the ground is too firm in Longchamp, we can skip the Dollar and go straight to the Champion Stakes, but we’ll see in due course.

“He’ll definitely have an entry in the Grand Prix de Deauville at the end of August. I know the trip is a bit longer (extended mile and a half), but it’s a 200,000 euros Group Two – if the ground is soft enough and the horse is in good shape, I’m sure he’d have a great chance.”

Skalleti goes for Group One gold in Munich feature

Skalleti goes for a second successive Group One victory, following an eight-week break, in the Grosser Dallmayr-Preis – Bayerisches Zuchtrennen in Munich.

Trainer Jerome Reynier reports the six-year-old grey, winner of the Prix d’Ispahan at ParisLongchamp last time, to be in such fine shape at home that it was decided to head to Germany on Sunday and then maybe for the Grand Prix de Deauville on August 29, if all is well.

Skalleti’s main objective remains the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot, in which he was runner-up behind Addeybb last autumn.

“He’s good – we’re very happy with him,” said Reynier.

“He had a break after his last win, and we wanted to take our time. We wanted to see how he was in early July, and we are happy with him physically and mentally, so we thought this was a good opportunity to try to win another Group One with him.

“It’s a mile and a quarter on good to soft ground, depending on the weather forecast. With six runners, he will be waiting at the back and hopefully be doing the same as at Longchamp last time out.

“We are definitely not going there for the money. It’s only 60,000 euros for the winner.

“It was either this race or the Prix Gontaut-Biron – the Group Three in Deauville. He won that race last year with a three kilogramme advantage over (Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner) Sottsass.

“This year he would be the one to carry the penalty, so it is better to keep him to level weights in Group One company in Germany.

“Maybe then we will go for the Grand Prix de Deauville if he is in good shape, and if the ground is soft enough. The plan is to bring him to Ascot in top shape for the Champion Stakes.”

The two three-year-olds in the six-runner line-up are German Derby fourth Lord Charming, trained by Peter Schiergen, and Jean-Pierre Carvalho’s Mythico, winner of the German 2000 Guineas. Three four-year-olds – Grocer Jack, No Limit Credit and Tabera – complete the field.

Reynier sets sights on Champion Stakes date for Skalleti

Jerome Reynier has revenge on his mind for Skalleti as he pinpointed the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot in October as the grey’s long-term target.

Skalleti was runner-up to Addeybb last autumn in what was the six-year-old’s first attempt at a Group One and the Kendargent gelding made it second time lucky with a last-gasp success in the Prix d’Ispahan at ParisLongchamp on Sunday.

Skalleti brought heartache to the British-trained pair of Tilsit and My Oberon despite the distance of the race being inadequate, conditions unsuitable and the inconvenience of losing a racing plate during the race.

“We knew the trip was going to be a bit short and the ground a bit too firm for him,” said Reynier.

“He was the only horse who came from behind because most of the winners made all. He has done something special because he lost a shoe as well entering the final straight.

“He’s just a very genuine horse and a champion for us. He still remains unbeaten in Longchamp and remains unbeaten as a six-year-old this year, so it’s very exciting.

“We are going to give him a break now – he deserves it. Maybe we’ll be back in Deauville in August for the Prix Gontaut-Biron he won last year beating Sottsass, or maybe we’ll go another route. We will see how he comes back from this race. We will take it easy with him.”

As for Ascot’s Champion Stakes, Reynier said: “We would like to take our revenge that day.

“I’m not sure we will run him two weeks prior to that race in the Prix Dollar because two big races in two weeks is a lot. We will see how he is at that time.”

Reynier has Group One aspirations for Marianafoot after the six-year-old entire completed a five-timer in the Group Three Prix du Palais-Royal on the same card at ParisLongchamp.

“It’s unbelievable the way he has been racing this year. He’s getting better and better. We knew he was spot on and we are very happy with him,” said Marseille-based Reynier.

“He deserved to win a Group race and now we are going for a Group One in the Prix Maurice de Gheest in Deauville. That will he his target for this year.”

Skalleti claims first Group One with d’Ispahan strike

Skalleti got up on the line to open his Group One account in a thrilling renewal of the Prix d’Ispahan at ParisLongchamp.

Jerome Reynier’s six-year-old – who was runner-up to Addeybb in the Champion Stakes last year and again has Ascot as his big target – came with a steady run on the outside in the hands of weighing-room veteran Gerald Mosse to break the heart of Charlie Hills’ British raider Tilsit.

The late withdrawal of The Revenant due to the drying ground robbed the race of one of its star names, but it still provided a great thrill for those racegoers lucky enough to be in attendance.

Ecrivan made the running until Victor Cheminaud made his bid on Tilsit early in the straight. The four-year-old, wearing the Juddmonte Farms colours, tried to kick on a furlong and a half out, but he was soon challenged by Ioritz Mendizabal on the William Haggas-trained My Oberon.

Meanwhile, Skalleti (4-6 favourite) was gradually making inroads and his bid was timed to perfection to snatch an unlikely head verdict.

“We knew he was in good shape. We were very happy with his two runs this year, but the fact he was going on a firm track and over a distance quite short for what he’s best at, I think it’s just amazing,” Reynier told Sky Sports Racing.

“I don’t think it was the strongest Group One of the year, but the way he has done it coming from the back like that he is showing he is a very good horse and he deserves his Group One victory. Now we are hoping for some other ones by the end of the year.

“We were thinking of going for the Tattersalls Gold Cup (at the Curragh) last week, but because of the logistics due to Covid we came here and and he has the French premiums to boost his prize-money.

“We are going to stick to the plan if he is good shape. Now he is going to have some holidays because he deserves them. We are hoping to come back even better at the end of the year.”

Reynier was capping a fine day, having also taken the Group Three Prix du Palais-Royal with Marianafoot as well as completing a treble on the card with Elusive Foot.

“Marianafoot is a lovely horse, but it was really sad we didn’t have him to score many goals unfortunately as he had to take it easy for nearly all of last year. But he came back maybe better than ever and we are very happy to win a Group Three in France with him,” he said.

“He won a Group Two in Qatar, but he really deserves this win here in France.

“He can stretch to a mile if there is enough pace, but his ideal trip could be the Prix Maurice de Gheest, six and a half furlongs on a straight course (at Deauville) and that is why we tried him last time over the straight course at Chantilly.

“He has done it well so he is in great shape and we need to keep him like that to try to win a Group One with him.”

However, there was a sting in the tail for Mosse, who was hit with a 16-day ban for misuse of the whip on Skalleti, to add to the six-day suspension he picked up following a winning ride on Paco for Reynier at Bordeaux Le Bouscat on Saturday.

Reynier said: “Yesterday he won on my three-year-old and got banned for six days. Now, he’s got another ban because he has been using his whip too much so he has a three-week ban in total.

“It is quite annoying, but for big races like that he has to give it all.”

Skalleti all set for Hong Kong Cup mission

Skalleti will bid to reinforce the impression he is a genuine Group One performer when he runs in the Longines Hong Kong Cup at Sha Tin on Sunday.

The Jerome Reynier-trained gelding is a multiple Group Two and Three winner – and ran a career-best when finding only Addeybb too good in the Champion Stakes at Ascot.

Immediately behind the five-year-old was Aidan O’Brien’s brilliant mare Magical, and the pair are set to cross swords again at the weekend.

Reynier’s charge served notice of his ability when beating subsequent Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe hero Sottsass at Deauville in August, having previously been third to Persian King at Saint-Cloud over a trip short of his best.

From Deauville he went on to Arc weekend to land the Prix Dollar for the second time and his Ascot outing was his first at the top level.

“He was getting 6lb from Sottsass and had ground conditions to suit, so I was always confident we’d see the real Skalleti,” Reynier said.

“He really put on a show that day. It was (then) just a case of keeping him in the same shape to win a second Prix Dollar.”

It was a quick turnaround from ParisLongchamp to Ascot, and Reynier explained: “On top of that he had a change of surroundings because I kept him in Chantilly rather than head back to Calas, given the logistical issues with going to Britain.

“It wasn’t a straightforward preparation, but he showed he absolutely belongs at Group One level on his first try.

“On Sunday he needs to show he is up to that same level in very different circumstances, around two turns and on good ground and against opposition which is very used to such a set up.

“We beat Magical last time, but this might be more to her taste and we are here to see what we can do.”

Reynier will also saddle stablemate Royal Julius at the big meeting, in the Hong Kong Vase.

“We’ve had some fabulous days with him, but he comes here off the back of two average performances,” said Reynier.

“He didn’t enjoy the heavy ground in the Arc and at Rome the race circumstances were somewhat unusual.

“But his two second places in Milan were both very good. He is a horse that can get a little disheartened and so things need to go right for him.

“That said, it’s a small field with only two horses that stand out in Mogul and Exultant. Third place looks up for grabs so we have everything to gain and nothing to lose, safe in the knowledge he is in good form.

“On good ground going right-handed at between 2000 and 2400 metres, he is capable of putting up a very good performance if he is in the mood.”

Hong Kong in mix for Skalleti

Jerome Reynier will consider sending Skalleti to Hong Kong in December following his fine effort in defeat in the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot.

Fresh from winning the Prix Dollar for a second time at ParisLongchamp a fortnight earlier, the five-year-old performed admirably on his first start at Group One level on Saturday, filling the runner-up spot behind the William Haggas-trained Addeybb.

Reynier reports his stable star to have returned to France none the worse, and both the Hong Kong Cup and the Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin on December 13 are possible targets.

“You always go to the races with a lot of confidence with this horse, because he always gives you everything,” said Reynier.

“He had the conditions to suit (at Ascot), because he handles that sticky ground well. To be fair, he is good on soft and heavy, straight tracks or right or left-handed, and he has even been winning on Polytrack – he’s just an amazing horse.

“Now the question is whether we go to Hong Kong with him. He hasn’t had a big campaign this year, because he only started in May and had two light starts on good ground before we started to step things up in August.

“We could now be aiming for Hong Kong, where I will enter him in the Hong Kong Cup over a mile and a quarter and the Hong Kong Vase over a mile and a half.

“You have to stay really well over a mile and a quarter at Ascot on that sort of ground, and he wasn’t fading out – when Magical came to him he kept going to finish second. I think he would stay a mile and a half on good ground in Hong Kong.

“We will have to see how we can travel horses and people as well. It could be tough logistically, to try and get everyone there seven days before the race, but we will see.

“Everyone is saying the races will not be as competitive this year, because the Japanese horses are not so good and the local level isn’t so strong either, so this could be the year to try it.”

Whether Skalleti heads to the Far East or not, he is set to return to training in 2021 – with a trip back to Ascot for the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at the Royal meeting a potential target.

Reynier added: “The owner really wants to keep him in one piece and doesn’t want to try silly things, so I can understand if he decides to put him away for next year.

“We could aim for the Prix Ganay in France in April, and everyone is saying we should consider the Prince of Wales’s Stakes in June – because sometimes it’s raining and they can get soft ground.

“We will definitely consider that, because there is no option in France at that time of year.”

Skalleti enters Champion Stakes equation following Dollar delight

Skalleti became the first horse to win back-to-back renewals of the Qatar Prix Dollar since Cirrus Des Aigles seven years ago when staging a late show at ParisLongchamp.

The five-year-old came from the clouds to cut down Patrick Sarsfield and land the Group Two spoils by a length and a quarter for trainer Jerome Reynier and jockey Maxime Guyon.

Raging Storm made the running and soon set up a six-length advantage which he maintained into the straight, where Frankie Dettori set sail for home on Patrick Sarsfield.

It looked like Joseph O’Brien’s four-year-old was heading for victory, but Skalleti got a dream run on the far rail to nail the leader, with Dariyma two and a half lengths away in third.

“With a pacemaker like that, we know in the final straight he was going to go backwards and we didn’t want to take him along the rail, so he had to be squeezed a little bit between horses,” Reynier told Sky Sports Racing.

“He got the go from Maxime Guyon to chase Dettori’s horse. I was thought it was going to be a tough task, but he had so much to give and he has been very impressive this year once again in this race.”

Reynier is keen to run Skalleti in the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot on October 17 if he can find somewhere to house him in England due to the coronavirus restrictions.

“He is in very good shape and we want to try the Champion Stakes in two weeks’ time, but logistically it is not easy because we have to send him without his staff and he is a very special horse and he needs to be in really good care,” said the Marseilles-based handler.

“Maybe if we can find someone who can host him for a day or two in England before the race, maybe we will take this gamble.

“I have four boxes in Chantilly for two weeks and if we take the decision to cross the challenge and go for the Champion Stakes, he will be based in Chantilly and he won’t have to go very far to travel.”

Skalleti was slashed to 14-1 from 33-1 for the Champion Stakes with Paddy Power.

Valia came from last to first to run out a comfortable winner of the opening Qatar Prix Chaudenay.

Alain de Royer-Dupre’s lightly-raced three-year-old, wearing the colours of the Aga Khan, proved too good for the opposition in the Group Two over one mile and seven furlongs.

Christophe Soumillon was content to sit back as Mykiss cut out the pace while Ralph Beckett’s British raider Max Vega appeared to be in a good position only to be found wanting when the tempo increased in the final straight.

Valia made smooth progress to hit the front and draw away to score by two lengths from Nemean Lion. Step By Step was third with Max Vega fourth of the six runners.

De Royer-Dupre said: “Today was her first attempt at both the ground and the trip, but she has had an excellent run there. She is a classy filly.

“After she suffered some interference in the Vermeille, we couldn’t take the risk in running her in a race as high standard as the Arc.

“She has done that easily, even if the distance was a shade long. She will be better over 2,400 metres (12 furlongs), but we didn’t have much of a choice with our programme and we will continue to aim towards to the Prix Royal-Oak.

“Realistically, there are no other opportunities this year for her at Group One level.”

The Revenant lived up to both his name and billing with victory for the second year in succession in the Group Two Qatar Prix Daniel Wildenstein.

Pierre-Charles Boudot had Francis-Henri Graffard’s 4-7 favourite comfortably positioned in midfield until pulling out to challenge wide and ease to the front.

Ziegfeld gave chase but could get no closer than a length and a quarter at the line as The Revenant defied an absence of almost a year, since finishing second in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot, to duly add his name to race’s list of dual winners.

Graffard said: “He is one of the horses we don’t run that often. Getting a horse ready to run is already complicated enough and even more so with good horses like him, you need other good ones to go with them and without putting too much stress on them either. I am happy with that.

The Revenant (in red) seen finishing second in last year's QEII at Ascot
The Revenant (in red) seen finishing second in last year’s QEII at Ascot (Simon Cooper/PA)

“His exercice rider knows him off by heart and assured me he was as well as when winning this last year. I was still a bit stressed but now I’m relieved.

“He is a super horse. We missed the early part of the season but we respected him and now he is paying us back.”

Simon and Ed Crisford struck for the British challengers in the preceding Haras de Bouquetot – Criterium de la Vente d’Octobre Arqana.

Their juvenile colt Jadoomi followed up last month’s Wolverhampton novice victory, easily bagging this valuable prize by seven lengths under Mickael Barzalona.