Tilsit team considering options after narrow Group One defeat

Further top-level assignments await Tilsit following his narrow reverse in the Prix d’Ispahan on Sunday.

The Charlie Hills-trained four-year-old won the Group Three Thoroughbred Stakes at Glorious Goodwood last summer, before rounding off his 2020 campaign by finishing fourth behind 2000 Guineas hero Kameko in Newmarket’s Joel Stakes.

He was not disgraced in finishing fifth in the Neom Turf Cup in Saudi Arabia on his return to action in February, but raised his game to a new level when beaten just a head by Skalleti on his Group One debut at ParisLongchamp.

Hills said: “We’ve always liked him very much and you’ve got to say that was a career-best performance.

“Obviously we’re delighted with him. It’s just a shame we didn’t get the result really – he had his head in front just before the line and just after the line, so it was just on the bob really.”

Tilsit holds big-race entries in the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot and the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood, with Hills keen to discuss options with the owners before committing to future targets.

“The horse got back last night. We’ll obviously speak to the Juddmonte team and the (Abdullah) family,” the trainer added.

“The d’Ispahan is nine furlongs, but if it was a mile he would have won, so we could look at possible mile races in the future.”

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.”

The Revenant steps up for Prix d’Ispahan test at ParisLongchamp

The Revenant warms up for a potential trip to Royal Ascot next month in the Prix d’Ispahan at ParisLongchamp on Sunday.

Francis-Henri Graffard’s stable star has made two previous appearances at Ascot – finishing second in the 2019 Queen Elizabeth Stakes before returning to the Berkshire circuit to go one better on Champions Day in October.

The six-year-old has been beaten in his first two starts of this season, but Graffard is hoping for an improved performance on his return to Group One level this weekend ahead of a possible tilt at the Queen Anne Stakes on June 15.

He said: “He’s in good shape. Nine furlongs is a step up in trip for him.

“The ground the other evening was very sticky. Hopefully it does not dry too much – I hope the ground will not be too firm for him.

“The softer the better for him, so we’ll see.

“He’s in very good form and very happy. That (Queen Anne) is an option if the ground is suitable.”

Just over half an hour after The Revenant landed the QEII, Skalleti finished second for France in the Qipco Champion Stakes – finding only the William Haggas-trained Addeybb too strong.

Skalleti (grey) ran a fine race in defeat at Ascot last year
Skalleti (grey) ran a fine race in defeat at Ascot last year (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Skalleti has returned with back-to-back victories this spring and trainer Jerome Reynier is hoping he can complete his hat-trick.

“We’re pretty happy with him. He won the Prix Exbury very well and was back in Paris to win the Prix d’Harcourt,” he said.

“We felt running him in the Ganay a few weeks later was probably too much, so we’ve been kind on him and decided we’d go straight to the d’Ispahan with a bit of freshness.

“The distance is on the short side and the ground will be on the firm side for him, but we can’t really expect much softer ground at this time of the year.

“The race that would have been best for him is the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh, but logistically it was impossible to travel the horse to Ireland with the staff and everything, so we decided we’d stay at home and we’re hoping for the best on Sunday.”

Reynier is already looking forward to a return to Ascot in October, adding: “If we can win one Group One this year, it would be the Champion Stakes back in Ascot at the end of the year on soft ground.

“We’re not sure if we’ll go for the Prix Dollar this year. It’s only two weeks before Ascot, so it’s a tough prep for the horse.

“His target for 2021 is definitely the Champion Stakes – we’ll try to get our revenge on Addeybb.”

Andre Fabre saddles dual Group One winner Victor Ludorum, while British hopes are carried by the Charlie Hills-trained Tilsit and William Haggas’ My Oberon.

Wally (Jean-Claude Rouget) and Ecrivain (Carlos Laffon-Parias) complete the field.

Haggas sets My Oberon another Group One challenge in Prix d’Ispahan

William Haggas is keen to give My Oberon another opportunity to claim Group One honours in the Prix d’Ispahan at ParisLongchamp.

The Dubawi colt made an impressive start to his season in the Earl of Sefton Stakes at Newmarket last month, earning himself a step up to the top level in the Lockinge at Newbury.

My Oberon could finish only seventh in a race dominated by the brilliant Palace Pier, and Haggas is hoping the sun is shines in Paris on Sunday to give his charge the best chance of bouncing back to form.

“It was a pretty moderate run (in the Lockinge), but he’s come out of it very well,” the Newmarket trainer told Sky Sports Racing.

“I attributed it solely to the ground and I’m hoping they have in France a day like we’ve had in Newmarket – a beautiful, warm, sunny day. Hopefully the ground will dry to suit him.

“I’m not sure whether he’s up to it (Group One level). But he’s a pretty good horse, and he’s won a Group Three.

“Sons of Dubawi have done terrifically well at stud, and I’m trying to find him a race he can win, possibly a Group One race, and then he’s a stallion in the making.

“That’s the idea behind it – he’s never going to win a Group One if he doesn’t run in one. That’s why he’s going to France.”

He added: “I think a mile and a quarter in time will be good for him. I got distracted and went for the Lockinge, which was a mistake.

“I’d always planned to go to the d’Ispahan. We might be flying a bit high – but nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

My Oberon is one of two British-trained runners in a seven-strong field, along with Charlie Hills’ Tilsit.

Queen Elizabeth II Stakes winner The Revenant bids to open his account for the campaign, while Skalleti – runner-up to the Haggas-trained Addeybb in last season’s Champion Stakes – is seeking to take his winning tally to three from three this season.

Andre Fabre’s dual Group One winner Victor Ludorum also features.