First Euro Group 1 For American Pharoah As Van Gogh Strikes

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Van Gogh | Scoop Dyga

A fortnight after Harvey’s Lil Goil provided American Pharoah with a first top-level triumph as a sire in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup, there was another landmark in his remarkable story as Van Gogh supplied him with a first in that grade in Europe in Saturday’s Criterium International at Saint-Cloud. Highly tried by Aidan O’Brien this term, the son of the G1 Epsom Oaks heroine Imagine (Ire) (Sadler’s Wells) had been second in Leopardstown’s G3 Tyros S. and G2 Champions Juvenile S. and in the Oct. 10 G3 Autumn S. at Newmarket and traded at what in hindsight appears generous-looking odds of 18-5. Anchored in rear early by Pierre-Charles Boudot, the bay was delivered on the hedge in the home straight to overtake all rivals and assume command with 300 metres remaining. Drawing away from there, he had enough in the tank to jink near the line and had four lengths to spare there over the long-time leader Normandy Bridge (Fr) (Le Havre {Ire}), with the 17-10 favourite Jadoomi (Fr) (Holy Roman Emperor {Ire}) a neck away in third. “This horse was very impressive and gave me a very good feel,” commented the unstoppable “PCB” as he racked up another big-race double. “Aidan called me before the race and said it was important to get a good trip and get him cover, but he was still a bit keen early on. I made my move along the rail, which is always a big help here and he showed a very nice turn of foot. He was a bit tricky and green in front and was looking around, so he can only improve and has run on all grounds so the signs are positive for next year.”

Introduced over seven furlongs at Leopardstown July 11, Van Gogh who is the 12th foal out of the operation’s 2001 G1 Irish 1000 Guineas and G1 Epsom Oaks heroine was fourth behind Khalid Abdullah’s Masen (GB) (Kingman {GB}) but turned that form around next time in the course-and-distance Tyros Aug. 6. Second to his stablemate Military Style (War Front) there as Masen was back in third, the Ballydoyle blueblood was below-par next time when sixth in The Curragh’s G2 Futurity S. Aug. 22 but rebounded back at Leopardstown when runner-up to Cadillac (Ire) (Lope de Vega {Ire}) on his first try at this trip in the prime juvenile contest on Irish Champions Day Sept. 12. Making most to get off the mark in a seven-furlong Curragh maiden Sept. 27, he was out again for Newmarket’s Autumn S. on the “Future Champions Day” but was no match for Godolphin’s authoritative One Ruler (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}) in that Oct. 10 contest. Minutes prior to that contemporary finishing a game runner-up in the G1 Vertem Futurity Trophy, Van Gogh was putting himself in an aptly priceless bracket in the Saint-Cloud mud with arguably the day’s most impressive display.

The Oct. 2 G3 Prix Thomas Bryon scorer Normandy Bridge, who looked set to be swamped in midstraight having over-raced in front only to rally and get back up for second, is a work in progress according to trainer Stephanie Nigge. “He didn’t have an ideal race, as we would have preferred cover but that’s the way it is,” she said. “I thought he’d finish fourth or fifth at one point, but he is very courageous and kept finding which is a very good sign. I feel he is very immature and there is quite a lot of work to do over the winter. He’s a nice prospect for next season.”

Imagine’s previous best was the ill-fated G1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere and G2 Futurity S. hero Horatio Nelson (Ire) (Danehill), but she had also thrown the G2 Rockfel S. winner Kitty Matcham (Ire) (Rock of Gibraltar {Ire}), the G2 Al Fahidi Fort winner Viscount Nelson (Giant’s Causeway) and his GIII Longacres Mile-winning full-brother Point Piper. Imagine is of regal blood herself, with the full-sister to the Listed Derrinstown Stud 1000 Guineas Trial winner and G1 Irish 1000 Guineas runner-up Strawberry Roan (Ire) a half to the brilliant G1 Epsom and Irish Derby and G1 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth S. hero and sire Generous (Ire) (Caerleon) and to the G3 Park S. and GIII Monrovia H. scorer Wedding Bouquet (Ire) (Kings Lake). The latter is in turn the second dam of the six-times group 1 heroine Moonlight Cloud (GB) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}), with this being the dam line of the excellent racemare and blue hen Margarethen (Tulyar {Ire}). It is fitting that one of Aidan O’Brien’s earliest stars during his tenure at Ballydoyle should be responsible for American Pharoah’s breakthrough moment in Europe and fitting also that one of this stable’s runners made the breakthrough such has been Coolmore’s support for the Triple Crown hero. Imagine’s as-yet unnamed yearling is a full-sister to Van Gogh.

Saturday, Saint-Cloud, France
CRITERIUM INTERNATIONAL-G1, €150,000, Saint-Cloud, 10-24, 2yo, c/f, 8fT, 1:48.31, hy.
1–VAN GOGH, 126, c, 2, by American Pharoah
1st Dam: Imagine (Ire) (Hwt. 3yo Filly-Eng at 11-14f, G1SW-Eng & Ire, $527,013), by Sadler’s Wells
2nd Dam: Doff The Derby, by Master Derby
3rd Dam: Margarethen, by Tulyar (Ire)
1ST BLACK-TYPE WIN; 1ST GROUP WIN; 1ST GROUP 1 WIN. O-Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, Susan Magnier & Diane Nagle; B-Barronstown Stud (KY); T-Aidan O’Brien; J-Pierre-Charles Boudot. €85,710. Lifetime Record: MGSP-Ire & GSP-Eng, 7-2-3-o, €144,262. *1/2 to Horatio Nelson (Ire) (Danehill), G1SW-Fr, GSWW & G1SP-Eng, GSW-Ire, $488,433; Viscount Nelson (Giant’s Causeway), GSW-UAE, MSW & G1SP-Ire, MG1SP-Eng, $707,647; Point Piper (Giant’s Causeway), GSW-US, $520,415; Kitty Matcham (Ire) (Rock of Gibraltar {Ire}), GSW-Eng, $106,564; and Red Rock Canyon (Ire) (Rock of Gibraltar {Ire}), MG1SP-Ire, $360,889. Werk Nick Rating: A. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Normandy Bridge (Fr), 126, c, 2, Le Havre (Ire)–Aiglonne, by Silver Hawk. (€80,000 Ylg ’19 AROCT). O-Gerard Thomas Ryan; B-Haras du Mezeray SA & Ecurie Skymarc Farm (FR); T-Stephanie Nigge. €34,290.
3–Jadoomi (Fr), 126, c, 2, Holy Roman Emperor (Ire)–South Sister (GB), by Sakhee. (€75,000 Ylg ’19 AROCT). O-Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum; B-Suc. de Moratalla, Alban Chevalier du Fau & Pierre-Hugues Henry (FR); T-Simon & Ed Crisford. €17,145.
Margins: 4, NK, NK. Odds: 3.60, 4.50, 1.70.
Also Ran: Policy of Truth (Fr), Darkness (Fr), La Barrosa (Ire). Scratched: Ponntos (Ire). Click for the Racing Post result or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree. Video, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.

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