Tag Archive for: Rouhiya

Graffard in no rush to map out Calandagan plan

Francis-Henri Graffard is set to give impressive Royal Ascot winner Calandagan a break after his exploits in Berkshire.

The King Edward VII Stakes winner is ineligible for some big Group One races in France after being gelded and Graffard is likely to give the son of Gleneagles a rest before deciding what his next assignment will be.

Calandangan won a pair of Group Three races at ParisLongchamp on soft and heavy ground before charging home by six lengths in the hands of Stephane Pasquier at Group Two level to show he can go on any surface.

Graffard said: “We know how hard it is to be competitive and win at Ascot, so we are delighted with this win of course.

“He can’t run in the Grand Prix de Paris and Arc de Triomphe. We will see where we go next. He came out of the race well but he probably needs a little bit of a break now.”

Francis-Henri Graffard
Francis-Henri Graffard is likely to give his Royal Ascot hero a break (John Walton/PA)

One horse that could make a return to Britain is Goliath, who ran impressively to finish second behind Isle Of Jura in the Group Two Hardwicke Stakes.

Graffard hinted that the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes back at Ascot could be an option for the four-year-old.

He said: “Goliath is a horse I’ve always liked. He’s quite difficult to manage during the race. He pulled too much again on Saturday but he was a comfortable second.

Goliath (yellow cap) chased home Isle Of Jura in the Hardwicke Stakes
Goliath (yellow cap) chased home Isle Of Jura in the Hardwicke Stakes (John Walton/PA)

“He came out well and can even return in the King George. It’s a thing we can look at with the owner but he’s a nice horse and we are pleased with the track.”

However, the trainer was baffled by Rouhiya’s poor run in the Coronation Stakes.

The Lope De Vega filly won the French 1000 Guineas but ran no race at Ascot, trailing home last of the nine runners and six lengths adrift of the field.

Graffard said: “We have to find out what went wrong. I have my idea behind my back, in my head, but she didn’t run a minute – too bad to be true.

“I don’t know where she will go next. I want to find out what went wrong.”

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Varian respectful of Coronation Stakes threats to Elmalka

Roger Varian is aware of the dangers that lurk in a strong field for the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot, as Elmalka looks to add another big race to her CV after landing Classic glory at Newmarket.

The Kingman filly went from last to first under Silvestre de Sousa on the Rowley Mile at Newmarket to land the 1000 Guineas by a neck from Porta Fortuna at odds of 28-1, with Ramatuelle a further short head back in third.

Varian’s charge was beaten into third on her seasonal reappearance in the Fred Darling at Newbury, but was only half a length in arrears of the Marco Botti-trained Folgaria and stepped forward from that at Headquarters.

Varian opted against sending her to the Irish Guineas won by Fallen Angel in favour of a break ahead of the Royal meeting.

Folgaria, Porta Fortuna and Ramatuelle reoppose from Newmarket, but Varian is hopeful his charge is in top condition.

Varian said: “We weren’t tempted to go to Ireland, as she’d had two fairly quick runs, and she’s training lovely. She looks great and she seems to be getting stronger. She’s not a flashy worker, but I don’t mind that.

“She was a bit green at Newbury, and arguably at Newmarket too, but she’s looking a bit more complete now and there’s no reason to think Ascot’s round mile won’t suit. We are excited about running her.”

Fallen Angel had disappointed at Newmarket before winning the Irish Guineas, and while she is an absentee after a training setback Aidan O’Brien’s Opera Singer, who was third at the Curragh, won three times as a juvenile and is a major contender following what was a delayed seasonal reappearance.

Varian added on Sky Sports Racing: “We believe her best performances are still ahead of her and they might need to be. Opera Singer was the champion juvenile filly of Europe last year and she ran very creditably in the Irish Guineas when by all accounts she was massively in need of the run, so you’d have to respect her.

“It might need a stronger performance from Elmalka to what she produced at Newmarket to topple that filly, but it’s not just Opera Singer, it’s a field stacked full of quality fillies.

“Hopefully she can improve a pound or two and if she does she should be bang there. I sure she’s sharper now than before the Guineas, but the way she finished there suggests she could stay beyond a mile at this stage and her performance this week will determine that.”

James Doyle
James Doyle will be back in the plate on Elmalka (Mike Egerton/PA)

James Doyle takes over from De Sousa on Elmalka and is keen to make up for missing out on Classic glory.

Doyle said: “I rode Elmalka in her first race of the season, the Fred Darling at Newbury, and she ran a really good race in third, looking a bit unlucky as she got trapped on that stands rail.

“Silvestre rode her in the Guineas, when I was required in France, and she clearly bounded forward for the run at Newbury. It was obviously hard missing out on a Classic win, but there will always be days like that and you just have to take the rough with the smooth.

“Her work at home is workmanlike, but that’s just her. She looks great and she’s done well physically since the Guineas, where it probably helped being out the back with the other main contenders at the finish. I think the track and the race will suit her.”

Opera Singer
Opera Singer was third in the Irish Guineas at the Curragh (Brian Lawless/PA)

O’Brien has been delighted with how Opera Singer has come out of the Irish Guineas and with the focus on Ascot believes she will be in peak fitness.

The master of Ballydoyle told Racing TV: “We are very happy with her and she is a filly who is not an exuberant worker. She was only in work four weeks before the Curragh and really if she had finished mid-div we would have been really happy.

“We knew if we were thinking of coming to Ascot she would have to have a run and I was surprised with how well she ran really.

“She has been in good form since and everyone has been really happy with her. Her work has been nice and obviously we’re looking forward to seeing her again.

“She could do anything and she could get much further than a mile. So, obviously it is our second run this time and Ryan (Moore) will probably be a little bit more confident in her fitness this time. She is a big, straightforward filly really.”

Francis-Henri Graffard has preferred Royal Ascot to the French Oaks with Rouhiya and will take his chance with the surprise French 1000 Guineas winner.

Graffard said: “I’m very pleased with the condition of the filly and it’s a logical entry after her French Guineas win and she will be suited by the fast ground.

“I didn’t want to step her up in trip, so I didn’t want to run her in the Prix de Diane and I trained her for the Coronation.”

Oisin Murphy won the Coronation Stakes on Alcohol Free
Oisin Murphy won the Coronation Stakes on Alcohol Free (David Davies/PA)

Oisin Murphy, who struck three years ago aboard Alcohol Free, rides Ramatuelle for the first time and expects Christopher Head’s filly to be right up there at the business end of the race after finishing third in the Guineas in her first go at a mile, when at one stage she looked all over the winner.

Murphy said: “The Coronation is a climbing mile the whole way, but there is a bend. Alcohol Free was a very fast filly, like Ramatuelle, and she won the race on slow ground.

“It’s very competitive, with the Guineas winners and Opera Singer, but Ramatuelle was very good at two and she’s had a great preparation since the Guineas. The Newmarket run puts her right in the mix even though she didn’t win.”

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Rouhiya swoops late to grab Pouliches prize

Kathmandu was agonisingly denied Emirates Poule d’Essai des Pouliches glory as Rouhiya pulled out extra to ensure the Classic prize remained on home soil at ParisLongchamp.

Taken back by Maxime Guyon to track the pace set by Brian Meehan’s Kathmandu in the early stages, the Francis-Henri Graffard-trained winner picked up well when asked to win her race as the action developed, threading the eye of the needle to strike in the dying strides.

Having led from the moment the gates opened, it was despair for the Sean Levey-ridden Kathmandu who had to settle for a silver medal, while Willie McCreery’s Vespertilio ran a fine race to pick up the final spot on the podium.

William Buick had sent Charlie Appleby’s Romantic Style forward from a wide draw and she was also involved in the finish, coming home in fourth.

Owned by the Aga Khan, the winner was much improved on her previous outing over the track and trip in April, making rapid strides in her first race at the highest level.

“Francis-Henri Graffard’s gut feeling last year was that she was a Poule filly. This week, we asked ourselves the question, should we run in the Poule d’Essai on Sunday? Or head to the Prix des Lilas at Chantilly on Saturday?” said Princess Zahra Aga Khan.

“We reasoned in terms of the future, and in terms of the filly as a breeding prospect, so we opted for the Poule d’Essai.

“Maxime Guyon rode a superb race, as the filly was perfectly positioned, having harnessed her energies accordingly. Although half way up the straight a great deal of uncertainty had set in.

“For a breeder to produce a filly like her is extraordinary. It’s the reward of decades of work. Classic winners are so important for breeding, and especially so over a mile.”

Graffard added: “What an incredible race! We had a perfect run despite a bad draw. I had informed her jockey that she has a sharp turn of foot although her burst isn’t a lasting one. So he waited as long as possible before delivering his challenge.

“Rouhiya had made a lot of progress since her seasonal debut and she had been working very well. I had hesitated between the Poule d’Essai and the Prix des Lilas, but the Princess advised me to try our luck in the Poule d’Essai.”

The Rouhiya team collect their prizes at ParisLongchamp
The Rouhiya team collect their prizes at ParisLongchamp (PA)

For Meehan it was the second successive year he has experienced last-gasp heartache in the French capital as his wait for an elusive Classic winner goes on.

Isaac Shelby was beaten by the barest margin in the equivalent race for the colts last year and Kathmandu could now be set for a drop back in trip as she searches for compensation at Royal Ascot.

“It’s tough and she has run such an incredible race,” said Meehan.

Kathmandu (left) seen here at Newmarket
Kathmandu (left) seen here at Newmarket (Bradley Collyer/PA)

“All credit to the team at home and here with her, the owners Ed Babbington and Sam Sangster let me put her in the Guineas in the spring and she’s a wonderful filly – a Group One filly – and I thought Sean gave her an outstanding ride.

“It’s heart-breaking and it’s about the seventh Classic-placed horse I’ve had now – it’s becoming annoying.

“She’s run beautifully, she’s a stunning filly and there’s so much to love about her, we’re going to have a great time with her for sure.

“She definitely gets a mile, but whether she was on the limit of her stamina here today – and Sean felt that – so we will see. Maybe the Jersey Stakes at Ascot but we will see. There is so much we can do with her during the summer and have a lot of fun.”

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