Reynier Taking on Trio of Guineas Winners With Darlinghurst

Darlinghurst with owner Jean-Etienne Dubois (hat) | Scoop Dyga

For France, there's a Classic weekend to contend with before Royal Ascot commences but next week's action in England could well include the strongest French challenge ever assembled for the royal meeting.

Next Friday's G1 Coronation S. is already being hotly anticipated for its potential clash of the English, Irish and French 1,000 Guineas winners Elmalka (GB), Fallen Angel (GB) and Rouhiya (Fr), but before that the G1 St James's Palace S. could provide an equally enthralling meeting of some of the best three-year-olds in Europe. Notable Speech (GB) and Rosallion (Ire) look set to renew their 2,000 Guineas rivalry, while Poule d'Essai des Poulains winner Metropolitan (Fr) will join the line-up.

France will also be represented by the progressive Darlinghurst (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}), who is one of three potential runners for Marseille-based trainer Jerome Reynier. The Yeomanstown Stud-bred colt is unbeaten in his last four starts, including the G3 Prix de Guiche, in which he beat subsequent G1 Prix du Jockey Club runner-up First Look (Ire) (Lope De Vega {Ire}).

“I'm really looking forward to seeing this race, it is going to be very interesting with all three of the Guineas winners. It will be interesting to see who is the number one three-year-old colt in Europe,” Reynier said.

He and owner Jean-Etienne Dubois clearly have much confidence in Darlinghurst having recently retained him at €590,000 when offered for auction through an Arqana Online Sale.

“Darlinghurst has beaten First Look who was runner-up in the French Derby, his form is very good and we're very happy with the horse. He is very easy to deal with and I know he will travel well and is in good shape,” he continued. 

“His main quality is his turn of foot and if he can follow a horse with his high cruising speed and Christophe [Soumillon] can show him a gap or bring him on the outside, then he can use his turn of foot in the closing stages and he will be finishing really well.”

Reynier will also be returning to Ascot with last year's G1 Queen Elizabeth II S. runner-up Facteur Cheval (Ire) (Ribchester {Ire}), who will again tackle the straight mile in Tuesday's G1 Queen Anne S. The Team Valor-owned five-year-old was last seen on Dubai World Cup night, when he won the G1 Dubai Turf in the hands of Maxime Guyon.

“He came back from the Dubai Turf in really good shape and I was really happy with him,” the trainer reported.

“The form from Dubai is amazing. The second Namur ran a cracker when second in the Yasuda Kinen and the Godolphin horse who finished fourth [Measured Time] won a Grade I in America at the weekend. Even the horse who finished eighth [Calif] won the La Coupe in ParisLongchamp and it was a very strong race.”

He added of Facteur Cheval, “Maybe we could see him over a mile and a quarter in the future, but right now we had the choice between the Prince of Wales's or the Queen Anne and we thought it would be good to stick to going one mile straight. You always need that little bit more stamina than just being a miler and I think it fits him well.”

Completing Reynier's trio of contenders is the G2 Prix d'Harcourt winner Zarakem (Fr) (Zarak {Fr}), who is being aimed at the G1 Prince of Wales's S.

He said, “He won five in a row last year as a three-year-old, including two Listed races, and his reappearance was really good in the Prix d'Harcourt in early April. We supplemented him for the Ganay but everything went wrong and he was too keen and he burnt too much petrol. Now, we will be riding him from the back [at Ascot] like we did in the Harcourt, waiting out the back for a place and you never know what can happen in this kind of race. If there is enough pace he will be able to come from behind.”

Reynier, who has had a superb start to the season with 10 stakes winners already to his credit, is currently fifth in the French trainers' table. 

He added, “A first win in Britain during Royal Ascot would be unreal, so I just hope the horses travel safe ahead of D Day.

“Ascot is something I have been watching on TV for many years, I was lucky enough to run Royal Julius in the Prince of Wales's six years ago.

“That was a good trip, I was driving the horse box myself and taking care of the horse myself and it was a great memory. This year I will only be racing on the Tuesday and Wednesday and we are staying Monday until Thursday so we will be able to enjoy it.

“When we came over for the Sussex Stakes, we flew over, the horse ran and then we were dashing to catch our flight so I wasn't really able to enjoy it and the same with the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, I wasn't able to stay for the Champion Stakes as the flight was straight after the race.

“This time we will make sure we will enjoy ourselves and I will be in the French tent in the car park having a good time.”


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