Poulains Glory For Victor Ludorum

|

Victor Ludorum | Scoop Dyga

After all the worry and uncertainty of the past few weeks, the first of the European Classics to be staged in the time of COVID-19 provided a reassuring outcome as Godolphin’s TDN Rising Star Victor Ludorum (GB) (Shamardal) made class tell over the straight mile at Deauville. As it was before the huge disruption wrought by the virus, so it remains at least in this sphere with the G1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere winner confirming the form of the Arc card’s juvenile highlight to regain the winning thread in Monday’s G1 Emirates Poule d’Essai des Poulains. Sent off the 7-5 favourite despite his below-par prep when third in the May 11 G3 Prix de Fontainebleau at ParisLongchamp, the homebred had one behind early and showed signs of laziness but Mickael Barzalona knew to bide his time and coax him forward when the time was right. Getting rolling towards the stands’ side, he took command approaching the final furlong and was pushed out to assert for a 1 1/2-length verdict over The Summit (Fr) (Wootton Bassett {GB}), with Alson (Ger) (Areion {Ger}) a neck behind for a Fabre one-three.

“This shows that he needed the race last time and he’s proven today what a great horse he is,” Barzalona stated in his immediate post-race reaction. “He didn’t have the best trip last time and I was very impressed with the way he went down to the start here–he hasn’t gone to post as well in the past. It was not my idea to take back like that, but it was the way the race unfolded and once I took him out he has a way to quicken which is very impressive. He is very strong and very fluent in his stride and has a beautiful action. You can see now that he has lost none of his quality and I think he will stay further–he was just doing the minimum at the end.”

Andre Fabre is the ultimate artisan when it comes to preparing his Classic contenders to peak on the day and this eighth Poulains winner under his care is a prime example of that unteachable blend of intuition and skill. There was precious little to garner from Victor Ludorum’s Fontainebleau effort to encourage maximum confidence here despite the absence of his stable’s brilliant juvenile Earthlight (Ire) (Shamardal) and any raiders from Britain or Ireland. Despite the fact that he appeared too fresh for a part of that trial, the way he finished off was deflating for those who recalled the panache with which he operated in three winning starts in the space of just over a month during the autumn.

Introduced at the beginning of September at ParisLongchamp, the bay earned instant TDN Rising Star status with a scintillating effort and followed up in convincing fashion despite a penalty when sent to Chantilly for more conditioning 13 days later. In the Lagardere, which was a stern enough test coming so quickly on the back of his two starts, he was forced to overcome testing ground but proved professional enough to account for Alson by 3/4 of a length in a bunch finish. This performance proves that the Fontainebleau effort can be put aside, but the initial signs as he tackled a straight course for the first time were not entirely positive.

Tending to race either tardily or green in rear almost five lengths off the tempo set by the outsider Reshabar (Fr) (Iffraaj {GB}), Victor Ludorum received a light flick down the neck with Barzalona’s stick as he was pulled out approaching the final two furlongs. While the reaction was not electric, it was an emission of steady power which overwhelmed Alson and the Fontainebleau winner The Summit to suggest that the G1 Prix du Jockey Club trip will be a perfect fit. There was no hiding place for non-stayers, with the winning time faster than the fillies’ equivalent by 1 1/2 seconds.

Godolphin’s Lisa-Jane Graffard said, “We are delighted with the performance of Victor Ludorum, who left his comeback run in the Prix de Fontainebleau behind him and showed his best form. The Prix du Jockey Club has always been Plan A for Victor Ludorum and we will see how he comes out of this race before confirming his next target. I am sure that Andre Fabre will want a chance to assess the horse over the coming days and discuss it with Sheikh Mohammed.”

The Summit was affirming his rise through the ranks which began last month at ParisLongchamp and trainer Henri-Alex Pantall was feeling more than a small share of vindication. “I am happy with his performance, of course, but also a little bit disappointed to be second as it is always a little bit frustrating,” he commented. “It shows that last time was no fluke–everyone said that [jockey Pierre-Charles] Boudot had won the race that day but he showed today that he’s a good one. After this, I don’t think the Jockey-Club will be next as I am not certain he will go much further than a mile.”

Fifteen years after Shamardal returned from a similarly unbeaten group 1-winning juvenile campaign to capture this contest at its traditional home, the aptly-named Victor Ludorum was following suit and it now remains to be seen whether he can emulate his sire’s triumph in the Chantilly Classic which was having its inaugural running at 10 1/2 furlongs in 2005. On pedigree as well as racing style that trip looks easily within his compass, with his dam being the G3 Prix Cleopatre runner-up Antiquities (GB) (Kaldounevees {Fr}) and his half-sister Mary Tudor (Ire) (Dawn Approach {Ire}) annexing the Listed Naas Oaks Trial and finishing third in the G1 Irish Oaks.

The second dam is the Listed Prix Rose de Mai winner Historian (Ire) (Pennekamp), a daughter of the G1 Irish Oaks heroine Helen Street (GB) (Troy {GB}) who also boasted this operation’s stellar performer Street Cry (Ire) (Machiavellian). Successful in the G1 Dubai World Cup and GI Stephen Foster H., he also emerged as a leading sire while his listed-placed full-sister Helsinki (GB) produced Shamardal himself. That fact means that Helen Street features 3×3 in Victor Ludorum’s pedigree, providing a timely reminder of the great loss that Darley have suffered as a result of the recent death of Shamardal. Indeed, there is a strong chance that by the first week of July he would have sired the winner of three of the European Classics. Antiquities, who is also linked with the operation’s G1 Prix Jean Prat-winning youngblood sire Territories (Ire) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}), has the 2-year-old colt Ages of Man (Ire) by Dawn Approach’s sire New Approach {Ire}) and a yearling filly by Territories’s sire.

Monday, Deauville, France
EMIRATES POULE D’ESSAI DES POULAINS-G1, €360,000, Deauville, 6-1, 3yo, c, 8fT, 1:34.14, gd.
1–VICTOR LUDORUM (GB), 128, c, 3, by Shamardal
1st Dam: Antiquities(GB) (GSP-Fr, $116,642), by Kaldounevees (Fr)
2nd Dam: Historian (Ire), by Pennekamp
3rd Dam: Helen Street (GB), by Troy (GB)
O/B-Godolphin; T-Andre Fabre; J-Mickael Barzalona. €205,704. Lifetime Record: 5-4-0-1, €473,164. Werk Nick Rating: F. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–The Summit (Fr), 128, c, 3, Wootton Bassett (GB)–Acola (Fr), by Acatenango (Ger). (€16,000 Ylg ’18 AROCT). O-Mme Jacques Cygler; B-SARL Jedburgh Stud (FR); T-Henri-Alex Pantall. €82,296.
3–Alson (Ger), 128, c, 3, Areion (Ger)–Assisi (Ger), by Galileo (Ire). O-Corinna Baronin von Ullmann; B-Gestut Schlenderhan (GER); T-Andre Fabre. €41,148.
Margins: 1HF, SNK, 3/4. Odds: 1.40, 8.00, 8.00.
Also Ran: Celestin (Fr), Kenway (Fr), Arapaho (Fr), Shinning Ocean (Fr), Reshabar (Fr), Ecrivain (Fr). Click for the Racing Post result or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree.

Not a subscriber? Click here to sign up for the daily PDF or alerts.