Tag Archive for: Prix Royal-Oak

Scope strikes for Beckett and Hornby in Prix Royal-Oak

Scope capped a brilliant weekend in France for Ralph Beckett with the trainer’s second Group One victory in as many days, in the Prix Royal-Oak at ParisLongchamp.

Beckett sent Angel Bleu from his Hampshire yard for a successful raid on the Criterium International at Saint-Cloud on Saturday, and completed his cross-Channel one-two at the highest level as jockey Rob Hornby won his first Group One on his maiden visit to ParisLongchamp.

Scope was continuing the recent trend of three-year-old pre-eminence in this race – also known as the French St Leger, but open to older horses too.

The Teofilo colt was also a third consecutive British-trained winner of the Royal-Oak, following subsequent Gold Cup hero Subjectivist 12 months ago and Technician in 2019.

Hornby sat prominent but bided his time on the 5-1 winner as habitual front-runner Alkuin set the pace, closely attended by Irish hope Zero Ten – who led into the straight.

But as the pack closed, Scope showed fine acceleration as well as stamina for this trip in rain-softened ground, moving to the lead a furlong out and holding off the challenge of Skazino by a length – with another three and a half lengths back to Glycon in third.

Reflecting on his two Group One wins in the space of 24 hours, Beckett said: “I wasn’t expecting it.

“It’s just great, fantastic.”

Scope, sixth in the St Leger at Doncaster last month, was then a Listed winner at Ascot three weeks ago.

Beckett told Sky Sports Racing: “At the beginning of the year, I said ‘I think he might be a Leger horse’ instead of a Derby horse. I didn’t think it was a French Leger – but that’ll do!”

He was always encouraged by Scope’s position, close enough to the pace.

“I was just delighted with where he was, how it was panning out and how well he travelled today – because he’s not an exuberant horse at home or in his races,” he added.

“He only does enough. His mother (Look So, a four-time winner for the yard in the same colours) was the same, and all his sisters were the same.

“I’ve been lucky enough to train the whole family, so you kind of know what he’s going to do before he does it.”

Beckett hopes Scope will improve again next year.

Trainer Ralph Beckett completed a Group One double in France this weekend - with Angel Bleu and Scope
Trainer Ralph Beckett completed a Group One double in France this weekend – with Angel Bleu and Scope (Mike Egerton/PA)

“He’s just got better and better with each run,” he said.

“He had a tough mid-part of the year – nothing really went right for us at home.

“I remember saying before he ran in the Voltigeur (a close fifth at York in August) ‘I’m not sure what’ll happen today’ because we hadn’t been able to get the work into him that I would have liked.

“He’d have run a lot better in the St Leger if he hadn’t blown the start. Then it was a good effort last time in the Noel Murless (at Ascot) and I thought today, beforehand, he looked terrific.

“He’s quite a raw, immature horse. He should develop from three to four – he should get better, (because) he was very backward all through his two-year-old career.

“I can see him getting stronger from three to four – but let’s worry about that in April!”

Hornby will happily do likewise, but can concentrate on this career high point first.

“I’m just ecstatic, delighted, this is why we do it,” said the winning jockey.

“When it pays off on days like today it’s really special.”

All went to plan from the outset, he explained.

Hornby added: “This horse can be quite slowly away sometimes, and I felt in the St Leger he didn’t get a fair crack at things – he was slowly away, and we had to bide our time.

“That doesn’t really suit him. He races quite lazily in the first part of the race but really comes good for you later on, and stamina is the key with him.

“It was a matter of just keeping tabs on the leaders, keeping him interested and then just build through the gears.

“I always knew he’d be hitting the line strongly – (but) he had to dig deep off that elbow. They came at him either side, and he really stuck his neck out.”

Quickthorn aiming to bounce back in Prix Royal-Oak test

Quickthorn bids to put a disappointing Ascot run behind him when he goes for Group One glory in the Prix Royal-Oak at ParisLongchamp on Sunday.

The four-year-old was beaten 10 lengths by Hukum in the Cumberland Lodge Stakes after making most of the running over a mile and a half.

He had put up an amazing performance to win at Salisbury on his previous outing after losing many lengths at the start and he was only beaten a head by subsequent Irish St Leger hero Sonnyboyliston in the Ebor at York.

Hughie Morrison runs Quickthorn in France
Hughie Morrison runs Quickthorn in France (Julian Herbert/PA)

This will be Quickthorn’s seventh racecourse appearance since May and trainer Hughie Morrison is slightly concerned he may not be in the same kind of form as earlier in the campaign.

“He’s up against good, improving three-year-olds,” said the East Ilsley trainer.

“He slightly disappointed us last time, so we are a bit nervous he might have had enough for the year, but we’ve found no reason not to run him so we thought we’d have a go.”

Kemari represents Charlie Appleby
Kemari represents Charlie Appleby (David Davies/PA)

Charlie Appleby’s Kemari and the Ralph Beckett-trained Scope, who took a Listed race at Ascot by seven lengths after finishing sixth in the St Leger, are two of the three-year-olds in the line-up.

Appleby is hoping Kemari can build on his second place on the Prix Chaudenay at ParisLongchamp three weeks ago.

“We have been pleased with how Kemari came out of the Prix Chaudenay, which was a step back in the right direction following his run at York. He has handled these conditions before and we are hoping he can make the first three in what looks a competitive event,” he told www.godolphin.com.

Search For A Song returned to winning form last time out
Search For A Song returned to winning form last time out (Niall Carson/PA)

Dermot Weld’s Search For A Song flies the flag for Ireland along with Emmet Mullins’ Zero Ten.

Search For A Song bagged a Group Three contest at the Curragh by nine and a half lengths last month to score for the first time since winning a second successive Irish St Leger triumph in September, 2020.

Fiona Craig, advisor to owner-breeders Moyglare Stud Farm, said: “She’s in very good form. We’re hoping there isn’t too much rain, but I don’t think there has been and hopefully the ground won’t be as bad as it was on Arc weekend.

“The Aga Khan’s filly (Valia) could be tough to beat, but we’re hoping she’ll run well.

“When she was younger she used to like the ground fast and firm. I don’t think she needs that now, she just doesn’t need to be stuck in a bog.”

French exam for Search For A Song

Search For A Song has further Group One honours in her sights as she heads to ParisLongchamp next Sunday for the Prix Royal-Oak.

The five-year-old is a dual Irish St Leger victor and trainer Dermot Weld is eager to have a crack at the French version of the staying race, which is contested over just short of two miles in Paris.

The mare could finish only sixth when bidding for a third Irish Leger last month, but returned to winning form with a nine-and-a-half-length romp in the Loughbrown Stakes and after bypassing a couple of options on Champions Day at Ascot, Weld hopes the French going will suit.

He said: “Search For A Song will go for the Prix Royal Oak next Sunday at Longchamp.

“She’s won two Irish St Legers so let’s see if she can win a French St Leger. We did it before with Vinnie Roe who won four Irish St Legers.

“She’s in great form. She was very good the last day in the Curragh and we just hope they don’t get too much more rain in France.”