Almanzor Takes The Irish Champion For France

7th at LEP, Gr. Stk, €1,250,000G1 QIPCO Irish Champion S. (10f)Winner: Almanzor (Fr), c, 3 by Wootton Bassett (GB)

Almanzor | Racing Post

In a truly spectacular line-up for the G1 QIPCO Irish Champion S. at Leopardstown swollen with the turf stars of Europe, there were thankfully no excuses or hard-luck stories as Almanzor (Fr) (Wootton Bassett {GB}) supplemented his previous best in the G1 Prix du Jockey-Club to bring the most sought-after prize in recent memory back to France. There was something in the manner of his electric performance when returning successfully from a break in the G2 Prix Guillaume d’Ornano over this 10-furlong trip at Deauville Aug. 15 to suggest that he could hold his own among the very finest and so it proved on this unforgiving stage. Allowed to saunter around in rear by Christophe Soumillon with Success Days (Ire) (Jeremy) predictably providing the generous pace, the 7-1 shot was still on the bridle out wide at the top of the straight as the leaders started to pay for their early efforts. Swooping at the furlong pole on Found (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), who had been spurred to life by Frankie Dettori deputising for Seamie Heffernan, Antonio Caro and Gerard Augustin-Normand’s bay tenaciously fended off that spirited rival by 3/4 of a length. As a result, he was relegating her to the runner’s-up spot that she had filled 12 months earlier and in seven other group 1 races. Her G1 1000 Guineas and G1 Epsom Oaks-winning stablemate Minding (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) was 2 3/4 lengths behind in third with no obvious excuse, while the 2-1 favourite Harzand (Ire) (Sea the Stars {Ire}) was struggling before the final half mile and trailed in eighth. “It’s a great feeling to beat so many champions in a very highly-rated race,” Soumillon commented. “We know how good he is, but the first time you go overseas you never know. It felt like the Arc de Triomphe to ride in, with so many good ones rubbing against each other. He’s one of the best I’ve ridden.”

Saturday, Leopardstown, Ireland
QIPCO IRISH CHAMPION S.-G1, €1,250,000, LEO, 9-10, 3yo/up, 10fT, 2:08.93, yl.
1–ALMANZOR (FR), 126, c, 3, by Wootton Bassett (GB)
1st Dam: Darkova, by Maria’s Mon
2nd Dam: Darkara (Ire), by Halling
3rd Dam: Daralbayda (Ire), by Doyoun (Ire)
(€100,000 Ylg ‘14 ARQAUG). O-Ecurie Antonio Caro & Gerard Augustin-Normand; B-Haras d’Etreham (FR); T-Jean-Claude Rouget; J-Christophe Soumillon. €712,500. Lifetime Record: G1SW-Fr, 9-7-0-1, $2,144,193. Werk Nick Rating: A. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Found (Ire), 130, f, 4, Galileo (Ire)–Red Evie (Ire), by Intikhab. O-Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith & Susan Magnier; B-Roncon, Wynatt & Chelston (IRE); T-Aidan O’Brien. €250,000.
3–Minding (Ire), 123, f, 3, Galileo (Ire)–Lillie Langtry (Ire), by Danehill Dancer (Ire). O-Derrick Smith, Susan Magnier & Michael Tabor; B-Orpendale, Chelston & Wynatt (IRE); T-Aidan O’Brien. €125,000.
Margins: 3/4, 2 3/4, 1 3/4. Odds: 7.00, 7.00, 2.25.
Also Ran: New Bay (GB), My Dream Boat (Ire), Moonlight Magic (GB), Highland Reel (Ire), Harzand (Ire), Hawkbill, Sir Isaac Newton (GB), Success Days (Ire), Ebediyin (Ire). Scratched: The Grey Gatsby (Ire). Click for the Racing Post result or the free catalogue-style pedigree. Video, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.
While an achievement of this stature seemed improbable as Almanzor trailed in seventh in the seven-furlong G1 Criterium International at Saint-Cloud in November and when only third on his 3-year-old bow in the G3 Prix de Fontainebleau at a mile at Chantilly Apr. 20, his subsequent progression has been out of the ordinary. After making all in the G3 Prix de Guiche over nine furlongs also at Chantilly May 10, he helped to create a slice of history for Caro and Augustin-Normand when capturing the G1 Prix du Jockey Club over 10 1/2 furlongs back there June 5. Once his stablemate La Cressonniere (Fr) (Le Havre {Ire}) added the G1 Prix de Diane two weeks later, their owners now hold the distinction of being the first to win both Classics in the same season since Marcel Boussac in 1956. It was clear after his comeback victory in the Prix Guillaume d’Ornano that he had not stopped in any way over the summer, with the Jockey-Club runner-up Zarak (Fr) (Dubawi {Ire}) again left to chase in vain but he was facing a clutch of luminaries here and only the gold standard would suffice from the eventual winner.

Languishing at the back along with Found throughout the early stages, he allowed the scene to play out in front of him with internationally-renowned tactician Soumillon gauging the efforts of his main opponents as he considered his own move. Harzand was the first to crack before the end of the back straight with Pat Smullen hard at work and as Highland Reel (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) was committed on the front by Colm O’Donoghue with 1 1/2 furlongs to race, Ryan Moore was guiding Minding up the far rail in preparation for the finale. Those involved in that group were quickly swamped by the wide runners, with Found producing a telling kick to gain a short-lived lead before the furlong marker as Almanzor came over the top and on to an impressive win. Soumillon was on the fastest horse on the day and his straightforward tactics paid the ultimate dividend. “The trainer said before the race to make sure he was really relaxed so that he could produce his turn of foot,” he explained. “Going wide in the straight was a risk to take, but I was going so well and my horse was so relaxed I thought I could go earlier than we had wanted him to. He gave me a great turn of foot and won like a champion. He’s shown he’s the best three-year-old in Europe and will probably have to go to the Arc now. I think he’ll have a lot to say in that race.”

Trainer Jean-Claude Rouget was in two minds about the chance of the son of the speedy Wootton Bassett tackling the Oct. 2 Chantilly showpiece afterwards. “Before the race, this seemed unbelievable and was a strong challenge,” he commented. “He looked to have improved from race to race. In Deauville, he was more impressive than at Chantilly and today he was more impressive than at Deauville. He doesn’t look very tired after the race. Christophe told me it was quite an easy race for him. He’s a great horse and the Arc could be his next race, but we also have the [G1 QIPCO British] Champion S. [at Ascot Oct. 15]. It all depends on how he is over the next two weeks, as we also have La Cressoniere, a great great filly who will run in the Arc. We might put one in each race.” Almanzor could be in action in 2017, with the prospect up in the air at present albeit not entirely ruled out. “It’s not easy for a horse from three to four, but we will discuss it in October and see who is retired and who trains on. It’s another challenge for us,” Rouget added.

Aidan O’Brien reflected on the runs of the fillies who did Ballydoyle proud, saying, “It was an evenly-run race and Minding ran very well even though she got a few tough bumps, which is the way it is in a race like that. It was a big field and in a competitive race like that you don’t always get a clear run. The plan was to go to the Arc after this with Found and Minding is hardy and well and had a good break coming to this race, so she could go again.” Disappointment of the race was the G1 English and Irish Derby winner Harzand, whose jockey Pat Smullen was looking to the Arc afterwards. “When I knew he wasn’t going to win today I looked after him,” he said. “Unfortunately he hadn’t got the pace early to get into the position we wanted to be in. At the furlong pole I accepted I wasn’t going to get anything today, so I had to think of the next day. He hasn’t run a bad race and it’s probably the best race I’ve ever ridden in. He’ll bounce back and I think back at a mile and a half we’ll see the best of him.”

While Almanzor’s sire was a fast individual, his female side has abundant stamina as well as speed which helped him see off Found up this stiff finish and bodes well for his prospects should connections take the plunge in the Arc. Darkara is a half to the dam of the star miler Darjina (Fr) (Zamindar), successful in the G1 Poule d’Essai des Pouliches, G1 Prix du Moulin and G1 Prix d’Astarte, but his G3 Prix Minerve-winning fourth dam Daralinsha (Empery) boasts a clutch of middle-distance and staying types under her including another Prix du Jockey Club hero in Darsi (Fr). Darkova also has a 2-year-old full-sister and a foal full-brother to the winner, with the former named Troarn (Fr), as well as a yearling colt by Falco.


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