Posts

Van Gogh powers to Group One success at Saint-Cloud

Van Gogh produced an impressive burst of speed to win the Group One Criterium International for Aidan O’Brien at Saint-Cloud.

Pierre-Charles Boudot had Van Gogh anchored last of the six-runner field until making swift progress into the straight and bagging the rail position on the stands side.

On his seventh start of a busy campaign, O’Brien’s American Pharoah colt then quickly put distance between himself and the rest – and at the post the 3-1 shot had four lengths in hand from rallying long-time leader Normandy Bridge.

Van Gogh appeared to relish the heavy ground on his first attempt at the top level, going one better than when second to One Ruler in Newmarket’s Group Three Autumn Stakes.

Winning jockey Boudot told Sky Sports Racing: “He is impressive.

“Aidan told me before the race that he needed cover, for a nice trip and be relaxed – and he has a nice turn of foot.

Your first 30 days for just £1

“But he is still green and tricky when he arrived in front – but he won in very good style.”

Van Gogh, whose performance attracted a Betfair quote of 20-1 (from 33-1) for next year’s Epsom Derby, was previously a runner-up at Group Two and Group Three level in Ireland.

Among those behind him this time were two British challengers – and fellow 9-4 joint-favourites – Simon and Ed Crisford’s Jadoomi (third) and Charlie Appleby’s previously unbeaten La Barrosa, who dead-heated for fifth and last.

Mark Johnston’s Gear Up secured a British victory in the other Group One on the card, the Criterium de Saint-Cloud – springing a surprise at 18-1 under James Doyle.

Last seen when fourth in the Royal Lodge Stakes and successful before then in the Group Three Acomb at York, Gear Up took this move to 10 furlongs in his stride.

Always to the fore in a race run at only a steady pace in tough conditions, the Teofilo colt appeared vulnerable as the pack closed into the straight – but he refused to buckle and held on with great determination to win by a neck from Botanik.

Jean-Claude Rouget’s previously unbeaten favourite Makaloun and the well-backed Bolshoi Ballet, for O’Brien, were only third and fifth respectively.

Doyle, riding Gear Up for the first time, explained he decided on a change of tactics after speaking to Franny Norton, who had been in the saddle at Newmarket.

He said: “I have to say thank you to Franny Norton, who rang me yesterday and told me all about the horse.

“He just felt in the Royal Lodge that he gave the leader a bit of a soft time. He felt at the time it was the right thing to do – but in hindsight, it didn’t play to the horse’s strengths.

“He said get him into a nice rhythm, and wherever you’re happy – whether that’s in front or taking a lead.

“It wasn’t necessarily the plan to bounce out and make all – but as we know, these horses of Mark Johnston’s are a joy to ride, very relaxed and don’t tend to pull or overdo themselves.

“So when he broke nicely, I was happy to just control the race in front and he wound it up nicely off the bend.

“He was just tending to hang to his left a little bit, with inexperience. But I think this race will bring him on, and we’ll have a lot of fun with him next year.

“He’s very versatile, and I wouldn’t rule him out staying further next year. He powered through the line, and was actually drawing away.”

Ralph Beckett’s Feliciana De Vega was fancied to get involved in the earlier Prix de Flore but could fare no better than sixth of seven as Boudot took the Group Three spoils on Gianluca Bietolini’s Grand Glory.

The 9-1 shot won by a neck from Solsticia, with 7-4 joint-favourites Feliciana De Vega and the previously unbeaten Zaykava both unable to land a telling blow.

There was a Group Three win for a British challenger, however, when Roger Varian’s Believe In Love justified her starting price as 5-6 favourite in the Prix Belle de Nuit.

Mickael Barzalona made stealthy progress from the rear, took over in the straight and was largely motionless by the time Believe In Love passed the post a cheeky three-quarters of a length in front of Pontille.

The Revenant claims Queen Elizabeth II Stakes gold

The Revenant went one better than 12 months ago with a game display to claim the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot.

Runner-up to King Of Change in 2019, Francis-Henri Graffard’s mud-loving gelding only made his seasonal debut two weeks ago, when winning the Prix Daniel Wildenstein for a second time.

Given a fine ride by Pierre-Charles Boudit, the 5-1 chance held the persistent challenge of the always-prominent Roseman (28-1) by a head in the Group One over the straight mile, sponsored by Qipco.

Palace Pier, the 8-11 favourite, was only third, three and a quarter lengths away, as John Gosden’s dual Group One winner was beaten for the first time in six starts. He also lost a shoe in the race.

Gosden said: “He pulled a shoe off leaving the gate. He was trying to run the whole race with one shoe off and Frankie (Dettori) said he was not able to change leads and the horse wasn’t able to handle the ground.”

Big smiles from Pierre-Charles Boudot
Big smiles from Pierre-Charles Boudot (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

A delighted Boudot said of the winner: “Today I was very confident with his trainer and the horse did it well on the track.

“He loved the ground and the trip has been perfect behind Circus Maximus. My horse was very relaxed behind him and when I asked him, he gave me a nice and long turn of foot. He has been courageous on the last furlong.

“[He is a] super tough horse. His preparation has been good with the Daniel Wildenstein. He’s courageous and he is just good.”

Mogul comes good to claim Group One glory in Grand Prix de Paris

Investec Derby hero Serpentine had to settle for fourth as his stablemate Mogul claimed top honours in the Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris at ParisLongchamp.

Serpentine was a surprise winner of the premier Classic at Epsom under an enterprising front-running ride from Emmet McNamara.

Ridden more patiently on this occasion by Christophe Soumillon, the Galileo colt appeared in a good position rounding the home turn, but ultimately failed to pick up sufficiently, although there was promise in his return.

Trainer Aidan O’Brien has never made any secret of the regard in which he holds Mogul – and he was the chosen mount of Ryan Moore in the Derby, where he finished sixth, despite disappointing at Royal Ascot on his previous start.

Your first 30 days for just £1

Another son of Galileo, he opened his account for the campaign in the Gordon Stakes at Goodwood, before finishing third behind Pyledriver in last month’s Great Voltigeur at York.

Held up for a late run by Pierre-Charles Boudot, Mogul was nearer last than first at the top of the straight, but made stylish headway against the far rail before extending clear in impressive style.

Speaking at the Curragh, O’Brien said: “We’re delighted with him (Mogul). We always felt that he was only coming (to hand) and I kept saying it.

“He was starting to show so much speed I kind of thought maybe we were going the wrong way and we should be going back to a mile and a quarter. I said to Pierre-Charles today ‘ride him for speed, take your time on him and drop him on the line’.

“He’s obviously a fast horse as he’s able to quicken. I thought we were going too far today over a mile and a half.

“He’s entered in Australia, (or) he can go to for the Champion Stakes at Ascot. He could go to America and Hong Kong, so there’s a lot of options for him.”

Serpentine finished fourth in the Grand Prix de Paris
Serpentine finished fourth in the Grand Prix de Paris (Bill Selwyn/PA)

Of Serpentine, he added: “It was his first run back (after a break) and Christophe was very happy with him.

“He had a good break, which we wanted to give him. I was thinking of starting him today and going back for the Arc, but we’ll see how he is.

“I was very happy with how happy Christophe was with him.”

In Swoop and Gold Trip finished second and third, with the British pair of Highland Chief and English King behind Serpentine in fifth and sixth respectively.