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.
“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.”