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Skalleti set for Prix Foy prep before Champion Stakes

Jerome Reynier’s Skalleti will skip Deauville this weekend and head instead to the Prix Foy on his path to Ascot’s Qipco Champion Stakes.

The six-year-old has won all four starts this season, the two most recent successes coming in the Prix d’Ispahan at ParisLongchamp and the Bayerisches Zuchtrennen at Munich – both of which are Group One events.

A tilt at the Grand Prix de Deauville on Sunday was under consideration, but the going is set to be too quick for Skalleti’s liking, and Reynier has therefore declined to declare him.

The Group Two Prix Foy is now on the agenda, run over a mile and a half at ParisLongchamp on September 12.

“He is very good – we’re very happy with him,” said Reynier.

“We’ve decided not to go to the Grand Prix de Deauville because the ground is too firm, and by the end of the meeting it could be very patchy and dangerous for the horse.

“He might go for the Prix Foy, the prep race for the Arc.”

Skalleti is likely to take up the latter option instead of defending his Prix Dollar title, having won that race in both 2019 and 2020.

Reynier considers the contest to be too close to the gelding’s ultimate seasonal target, the Champion Stakes on October 16.

The grey finished second in the Ascot showpiece last season, two and a quarter lengths behind William Haggas’ Addeybb on soft ground.

A bid to go one better has long been the aim, and Reynier said: “We think the Prix Dollar – two weeks prior to the Champion Stakes, which is his aim – would be too close.

“We think the Prix Foy would be a better prep race. It’s five weeks prior to the Champion Stakes – but I’m just thinking about all the factors.

“The ground is a big factor, because we’d like to run him on soft ground, so we will keep our options open as well.

“It’s (the Champion Stakes) definitely our aim – we are targeting this race and trying to win it.”

Reynier also outlined the next steps for Marianafoot, who shares an owner with Skalleti and has an even longer unbeaten run – stretching back eight races.

The Prix Maurice de Gheest was his latest victory, a race in which he defeated Ed Walker’s July Cup hero Starman and Wesley Ward’s Commonwealth Cup winner Campanelle.

The Prix de la Foret, held at ParisLongchamp on October 3, is where the six-year-old will head next as he tries to extend his remarkable winning streak.

The Group One is also set to be the final race of Marianafoot’s career.

“We’re aiming for the Prix de la Foret for the Arc weekend – that will be his final race probably,” said Reynier.

“We’re happy with him – he’s in good shape and he’s won two Group races in Longchamp.

“That will be his final race, so we’ll be trying to be competitive.”

Jean-Claude Seroul owns both horses.

Reynier said: “They’re (the owners) so happy with both of them – for six-year-olds to be so competitive and in such great form is amazing for the team.

“We’re doing well. We’ve won 13 or 14 good races this year, and that is amazing.”

Reynier likely to bypass Marois date with Marianafoot

Prix Maurice de Gheest hero Marianafoot is unlikely to bid for a Group One double in the Prix Jacques Marois at Deauville on Sunday.

Jerome Reynier’s charge extended his remarkable winning sequence to eight in last weekend’s six-and-a-half-furlong feature, seeing off a British and Irish challenge that included Ed Walker’s July Cup winner Starman.

In the immediate aftermath, Reynier raised the possibility of Marianafoot turning out just seven days later for another top-level assignment, but he is now minded to give his charge a well-earned break.

He said: “To be honest with you, we are so happy with his Group One victory we don’t want to rush things.

“To be running in this category of race, you need to be 100 per cent sure your horse is fine. I’m very happy with him, but just seven days after the Maurice de Gheest, it (Marois) is coming a bit too soon.

“We respect him so much and have been so happy with his strike-rate and what he has been achieving.

“We are still waiting on the opposition and the way he feels, but I think we’ll probably wait a bit longer before running him back.”

Reynier has already identified the seven-furlong Prix de la Foret on Arc day at ParisLongchamp in early October as Marianafoot’s big objective for the autumn.

“He’s won twice over the seven furlongs in Longchamp, so the Prix de la Foret could be his target if the ground is not too soft. If the ground is good or good to soft, that will be his aim for sure,” the trainer added.

“There is the Prix du Moulin de Longchamp before that, but that is over a mile and if we really want to aim for the Prix de la Foret, we need to get the freshness back into him.

“We were planning for the Prix Maurice de Gheest back in January. At the time we were dreaming about it, but to see him win it like he did was really unbelievable.”

Marianafoot is one of two Group One-winning stars for Reynier along with last season’s Champion Stakes runner-up Skalleti.

The six-year-old is four from four this season and is being prepared for a return to Ascot in October.

Skalleti (second left) finished second to Addeybb in last year's Champion Stakes
Skalleti (second left) finished second to Addeybb in last year’s Champion Stakes (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Reynier said: “I’m very happy with Skalleti, he’s in good shape.

“We are aiming for the Champion Stakes and maybe he will go to the Grand Prix de Deauville at the end of the month if the ground is soft enough.

“We are not sure whether we will train him to try to win the Prix Dollar for a third time in a row as it is only two weeks before the Champion Stakes. It worked well last year as he won the Dollar and was second at Ascot, so we will see.

“Between him and Marianafoot they have won 12 races this year. Skalleti has won four Group races, Marianafoot has won three and they have won three Group Ones, which is just unbelievable.”

Skalleti impresses with finishing flourish in German Group One

A second tilt at the Qipco Champion Stakes remains the primary objective for Skalleti after notching his second Group One victory in the Grosser Dallmayr-Preis at Munich on Sunday.

Jerome Reynier’s stable star found only the William Haggas-trained Addeybb too strong on Champions Day at Ascot in October and has returned seemingly better than ever this season.

After winning at Group Three and Group Two level in the spring, Skalleti claimed his first top-level success in the Prix d’Ispahan at ParisLongchamp at the end of May, narrowly beating Charlie Hills’ subsequent Summer Mile scorer Tilsit.

A hot favourite to follow up in Germany, the six-year-old was settled at the rear of the field for much of the 10-furlong contest by veteran French jockey Gerald Mosse.

And while he still a long way behind the pacesetting Tabera rounding the home turn, Skalleti ultimately made up the ground comfortably before powering clear for a dominant success.

Reynier said: “It was a good opportunity to add another Group One to his record. It seemed an easy race for him on paper, but you always worry something might go wrong.

“Gerald was very happy with him. They didn’t go very fast early on and he was out the back, but when he asked him to go he did it well.

“It was not our original plan to run him during the summer because we wanted to avoid all the travel and the firm ground, but this summer is pretty weird as it’s been pretty stormy with a lot of rain – and because the horse was in such good shape we said we had to go.

“To be heading back down south with another Group One victory is great.”

Last season Skalleti won the Prix Dollar just a fortnight before running in the Champion Stakes and his trainer is eyeing a repeat, with a potential run at Deauville next month also under consideration.

“If all goes well, we’ll probably go to the Prix Dollar before going back to Ascot. It worked quite well last year and we hope to win both races this year,” Reynier added.

“The Dollar and the Champion Stakes are only two weeks apart, but so many horses have run well on Arc weekend and then run well again on Champions Day at Ascot. If he’s in great shape and we’re very happy with him, we can give it a go.

“If the ground is too firm in Longchamp, we can skip the Dollar and go straight to the Champion Stakes, but we’ll see in due course.

“He’ll definitely have an entry in the Grand Prix de Deauville at the end of August. I know the trip is a bit longer (extended mile and a half), but it’s a 200,000 euros Group Two – if the ground is soft enough and the horse is in good shape, I’m sure he’d have a great chance.”

Skalleti goes for Group One gold in Munich feature

Skalleti goes for a second successive Group One victory, following an eight-week break, in the Grosser Dallmayr-Preis – Bayerisches Zuchtrennen in Munich.

Trainer Jerome Reynier reports the six-year-old grey, winner of the Prix d’Ispahan at ParisLongchamp last time, to be in such fine shape at home that it was decided to head to Germany on Sunday and then maybe for the Grand Prix de Deauville on August 29, if all is well.

Skalleti’s main objective remains the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot, in which he was runner-up behind Addeybb last autumn.

“He’s good – we’re very happy with him,” said Reynier.

“He had a break after his last win, and we wanted to take our time. We wanted to see how he was in early July, and we are happy with him physically and mentally, so we thought this was a good opportunity to try to win another Group One with him.

“It’s a mile and a quarter on good to soft ground, depending on the weather forecast. With six runners, he will be waiting at the back and hopefully be doing the same as at Longchamp last time out.

“We are definitely not going there for the money. It’s only 60,000 euros for the winner.

“It was either this race or the Prix Gontaut-Biron – the Group Three in Deauville. He won that race last year with a three kilogramme advantage over (Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner) Sottsass.

“This year he would be the one to carry the penalty, so it is better to keep him to level weights in Group One company in Germany.

“Maybe then we will go for the Grand Prix de Deauville if he is in good shape, and if the ground is soft enough. The plan is to bring him to Ascot in top shape for the Champion Stakes.”

The two three-year-olds in the six-runner line-up are German Derby fourth Lord Charming, trained by Peter Schiergen, and Jean-Pierre Carvalho’s Mythico, winner of the German 2000 Guineas. Three four-year-olds – Grocer Jack, No Limit Credit and Tabera – complete the field.

Reynier sets sights on Champion Stakes date for Skalleti

Jerome Reynier has revenge on his mind for Skalleti as he pinpointed the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot in October as the grey’s long-term target.

Skalleti was runner-up to Addeybb last autumn in what was the six-year-old’s first attempt at a Group One and the Kendargent gelding made it second time lucky with a last-gasp success in the Prix d’Ispahan at ParisLongchamp on Sunday.

Skalleti brought heartache to the British-trained pair of Tilsit and My Oberon despite the distance of the race being inadequate, conditions unsuitable and the inconvenience of losing a racing plate during the race.

“We knew the trip was going to be a bit short and the ground a bit too firm for him,” said Reynier.

“He was the only horse who came from behind because most of the winners made all. He has done something special because he lost a shoe as well entering the final straight.

“He’s just a very genuine horse and a champion for us. He still remains unbeaten in Longchamp and remains unbeaten as a six-year-old this year, so it’s very exciting.

“We are going to give him a break now – he deserves it. Maybe we’ll be back in Deauville in August for the Prix Gontaut-Biron he won last year beating Sottsass, or maybe we’ll go another route. We will see how he comes back from this race. We will take it easy with him.”

As for Ascot’s Champion Stakes, Reynier said: “We would like to take our revenge that day.

“I’m not sure we will run him two weeks prior to that race in the Prix Dollar because two big races in two weeks is a lot. We will see how he is at that time.”

Reynier has Group One aspirations for Marianafoot after the six-year-old entire completed a five-timer in the Group Three Prix du Palais-Royal on the same card at ParisLongchamp.

“It’s unbelievable the way he has been racing this year. He’s getting better and better. We knew he was spot on and we are very happy with him,” said Marseille-based Reynier.

“He deserved to win a Group race and now we are going for a Group One in the Prix Maurice de Gheest in Deauville. That will he his target for this year.”

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.

Skalleti all set for Hong Kong Cup mission

Skalleti will bid to reinforce the impression he is a genuine Group One performer when he runs in the Longines Hong Kong Cup at Sha Tin on Sunday.

The Jerome Reynier-trained gelding is a multiple Group Two and Three winner – and ran a career-best when finding only Addeybb too good in the Champion Stakes at Ascot.

Immediately behind the five-year-old was Aidan O’Brien’s brilliant mare Magical, and the pair are set to cross swords again at the weekend.

Reynier’s charge served notice of his ability when beating subsequent Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe hero Sottsass at Deauville in August, having previously been third to Persian King at Saint-Cloud over a trip short of his best.

From Deauville he went on to Arc weekend to land the Prix Dollar for the second time and his Ascot outing was his first at the top level.

“He was getting 6lb from Sottsass and had ground conditions to suit, so I was always confident we’d see the real Skalleti,” Reynier said.

“He really put on a show that day. It was (then) just a case of keeping him in the same shape to win a second Prix Dollar.”

It was a quick turnaround from ParisLongchamp to Ascot, and Reynier explained: “On top of that he had a change of surroundings because I kept him in Chantilly rather than head back to Calas, given the logistical issues with going to Britain.

“It wasn’t a straightforward preparation, but he showed he absolutely belongs at Group One level on his first try.

“On Sunday he needs to show he is up to that same level in very different circumstances, around two turns and on good ground and against opposition which is very used to such a set up.

“We beat Magical last time, but this might be more to her taste and we are here to see what we can do.”

Reynier will also saddle stablemate Royal Julius at the big meeting, in the Hong Kong Vase.

“We’ve had some fabulous days with him, but he comes here off the back of two average performances,” said Reynier.

“He didn’t enjoy the heavy ground in the Arc and at Rome the race circumstances were somewhat unusual.

“But his two second places in Milan were both very good. He is a horse that can get a little disheartened and so things need to go right for him.

“That said, it’s a small field with only two horses that stand out in Mogul and Exultant. Third place looks up for grabs so we have everything to gain and nothing to lose, safe in the knowledge he is in good form.

“On good ground going right-handed at between 2000 and 2400 metres, he is capable of putting up a very good performance if he is in the mood.”

Hong Kong in mix for Skalleti

Jerome Reynier will consider sending Skalleti to Hong Kong in December following his fine effort in defeat in the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot.

Fresh from winning the Prix Dollar for a second time at ParisLongchamp a fortnight earlier, the five-year-old performed admirably on his first start at Group One level on Saturday, filling the runner-up spot behind the William Haggas-trained Addeybb.

Reynier reports his stable star to have returned to France none the worse, and both the Hong Kong Cup and the Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin on December 13 are possible targets.

“You always go to the races with a lot of confidence with this horse, because he always gives you everything,” said Reynier.

“He had the conditions to suit (at Ascot), because he handles that sticky ground well. To be fair, he is good on soft and heavy, straight tracks or right or left-handed, and he has even been winning on Polytrack – he’s just an amazing horse.

“Now the question is whether we go to Hong Kong with him. He hasn’t had a big campaign this year, because he only started in May and had two light starts on good ground before we started to step things up in August.

“We could now be aiming for Hong Kong, where I will enter him in the Hong Kong Cup over a mile and a quarter and the Hong Kong Vase over a mile and a half.

“You have to stay really well over a mile and a quarter at Ascot on that sort of ground, and he wasn’t fading out – when Magical came to him he kept going to finish second. I think he would stay a mile and a half on good ground in Hong Kong.

“We will have to see how we can travel horses and people as well. It could be tough logistically, to try and get everyone there seven days before the race, but we will see.

“Everyone is saying the races will not be as competitive this year, because the Japanese horses are not so good and the local level isn’t so strong either, so this could be the year to try it.”

Whether Skalleti heads to the Far East or not, he is set to return to training in 2021 – with a trip back to Ascot for the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at the Royal meeting a potential target.

Reynier added: “The owner really wants to keep him in one piece and doesn’t want to try silly things, so I can understand if he decides to put him away for next year.

“We could aim for the Prix Ganay in France in April, and everyone is saying we should consider the Prince of Wales’s Stakes in June – because sometimes it’s raining and they can get soft ground.

“We will definitely consider that, because there is no option in France at that time of year.”

Skalleti enters Champion Stakes equation following Dollar delight

Skalleti became the first horse to win back-to-back renewals of the Qatar Prix Dollar since Cirrus Des Aigles seven years ago when staging a late show at ParisLongchamp.

The five-year-old came from the clouds to cut down Patrick Sarsfield and land the Group Two spoils by a length and a quarter for trainer Jerome Reynier and jockey Maxime Guyon.

Raging Storm made the running and soon set up a six-length advantage which he maintained into the straight, where Frankie Dettori set sail for home on Patrick Sarsfield.

It looked like Joseph O’Brien’s four-year-old was heading for victory, but Skalleti got a dream run on the far rail to nail the leader, with Dariyma two and a half lengths away in third.

“With a pacemaker like that, we know in the final straight he was going to go backwards and we didn’t want to take him along the rail, so he had to be squeezed a little bit between horses,” Reynier told Sky Sports Racing.

“He got the go from Maxime Guyon to chase Dettori’s horse. I was thought it was going to be a tough task, but he had so much to give and he has been very impressive this year once again in this race.”

Reynier is keen to run Skalleti in the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot on October 17 if he can find somewhere to house him in England due to the coronavirus restrictions.

“He is in very good shape and we want to try the Champion Stakes in two weeks’ time, but logistically it is not easy because we have to send him without his staff and he is a very special horse and he needs to be in really good care,” said the Marseilles-based handler.

“Maybe if we can find someone who can host him for a day or two in England before the race, maybe we will take this gamble.

“I have four boxes in Chantilly for two weeks and if we take the decision to cross the challenge and go for the Champion Stakes, he will be based in Chantilly and he won’t have to go very far to travel.”

Skalleti was slashed to 14-1 from 33-1 for the Champion Stakes with Paddy Power.

Valia came from last to first to run out a comfortable winner of the opening Qatar Prix Chaudenay.

Alain de Royer-Dupre’s lightly-raced three-year-old, wearing the colours of the Aga Khan, proved too good for the opposition in the Group Two over one mile and seven furlongs.

Christophe Soumillon was content to sit back as Mykiss cut out the pace while Ralph Beckett’s British raider Max Vega appeared to be in a good position only to be found wanting when the tempo increased in the final straight.

Valia made smooth progress to hit the front and draw away to score by two lengths from Nemean Lion. Step By Step was third with Max Vega fourth of the six runners.

De Royer-Dupre said: “Today was her first attempt at both the ground and the trip, but she has had an excellent run there. She is a classy filly.

“After she suffered some interference in the Vermeille, we couldn’t take the risk in running her in a race as high standard as the Arc.

“She has done that easily, even if the distance was a shade long. She will be better over 2,400 metres (12 furlongs), but we didn’t have much of a choice with our programme and we will continue to aim towards to the Prix Royal-Oak.

“Realistically, there are no other opportunities this year for her at Group One level.”

The Revenant lived up to both his name and billing with victory for the second year in succession in the Group Two Qatar Prix Daniel Wildenstein.

Pierre-Charles Boudot had Francis-Henri Graffard’s 4-7 favourite comfortably positioned in midfield until pulling out to challenge wide and ease to the front.

Ziegfeld gave chase but could get no closer than a length and a quarter at the line as The Revenant defied an absence of almost a year, since finishing second in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot, to duly add his name to race’s list of dual winners.

Graffard said: “He is one of the horses we don’t run that often. Getting a horse ready to run is already complicated enough and even more so with good horses like him, you need other good ones to go with them and without putting too much stress on them either. I am happy with that.

The Revenant (in red) seen finishing second in last year's QEII at Ascot
The Revenant (in red) seen finishing second in last year’s QEII at Ascot (Simon Cooper/PA)

“His exercice rider knows him off by heart and assured me he was as well as when winning this last year. I was still a bit stressed but now I’m relieved.

“He is a super horse. We missed the early part of the season but we respected him and now he is paying us back.”

Simon and Ed Crisford struck for the British challengers in the preceding Haras de Bouquetot – Criterium de la Vente d’Octobre Arqana.

Their juvenile colt Jadoomi followed up last month’s Wolverhampton novice victory, easily bagging this valuable prize by seven lengths under Mickael Barzalona.