Almanzor on course for Irish Champion after easy Deauville victory
Horse racing Almanzor on course for Irish Champion after easy Deauville victory French Derby winner was cut to 8-1 for Leopardstown Group one race
New Bay left unchanged at 16-1 for the Arc after Prix-Biron success
A trip to Leopardstown for the Qipco Irish Champion Stakes looms large for Almanzor following an impressive display in the Prix Guillaume d’Ornano at Deauville.
Despite winning four of his previous six starts the Wootton Bassett colt was a relatively unconsidered 20-1 shot for the Prix du Jockey Club [French Derby] at Chantilly at the start of June but looked every inch another top-class performer for his trainer, Jean-Claude Rouget, in running out a decisive winner.
Making his first appearance since, the three-year-old was an 11-4 chance to prove his French Derby triumph was no fluke and, after being ridden with confidence by Jean-Bernard Eyquem, Almanzor showed a smart change of gear to claim a comfortable victory by a length. The French Derby runner-up, Zarak, a son of the great racemare Zarkava, confirmed the Classic form by finishing a clear second once more.
RaceBets cut Almanzor to 8-1 from 10-1 for the Irish Champion Stakes on 10 September and Sylvain Vidal, racing manager for his part-owner Gerard Augustin-Normand, confirmed a trip to Leopardstown will now come under serious consideration.
He said: “I thought he was very impressive today. He has so much speed it’s unbelievable. He has improved race after race and I think today was his best performance yet. We need to speak to Jean-Claude but I think that [the Irish Champion Stakes] is the plan. What he did today was something special, I think.”
John Gosden’s Royal Artillery, winner of the Rose of Lancaster Stakes at Haydock earlier in the month, fared best of the British challengers in third. The Richard Hannon-trained Steel Of Madrid was fifth and Sky Kingdom from William Haggas’ yard was eighth.
André Fabre’s Ultra was the big disappointment of the Group Two contest but the French maestro did enjoy better luck later in the afternoon as New Bay got his career back on track in the Prix-Biron Hong Kong Jockey Club.
Winner of last year’s French Derby before finishing an excellent third behind Golden Horn in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, the son of Dubawi was bitterly disappointing on his return to action in the Prix d’Ispahan at Chantilly back in May. Having been given plenty of time to recover, the four-year-old was the 4-11 favourite to show his true colours and did so in some style. Paddy Power left New Bay unchanged at 16-1 to go two places better than last season in the Arc this autumn.
The other Pattern-race prize on offer was the Prix de Lieurey. British hopes rested on Charlie Appleby’s Mise En Rose, but she was ultimately well beaten as Alain de Royer-Dupre’s Trixia lunged late to deny Chartreuse by a nose.