Racing: Bago throws down the gauntlet

With the old jumps season on its way into the record books, the 2005/2006 season already under way with meetings at Ludlow and Wetherby yesterday, and a tumultuous finale for this term's leading players, including Kicking King and Moscow Flyer, starting at Punchestown tomorrow, the luminaries of the Flat season are struggling to make an impression.

With the old jumps season on its way into the record books, the 2005/2006 season already under way with meetings at Ludlow and Wetherby yesterday, and a tumultuous finale for this term's leading players, including Kicking King and Moscow Flyer, starting at Punchestown tomorrow, the luminaries of the Flat season are struggling to make an impression.

Yet, in a week which culminates with the 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket on Saturday and Sunday, it may be yesterday's victory by Bago, last year's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner, which stands out.

Back to Longchamp, scene of his finest hour, for the Prix Ganay, Bago just got up to record his fifth Group One win in a race that involved a false start and a disqualification. The Jonathan Pease-trained runner, partnered by Thierry Gillet, started the 8-13 favourite and just nosed out Pride on the line.

A stewards' enquiry disqualified Pride for drifting across the track and interfering with Short Pause, whose stablemate Reefscape was upgraded to second. Aidan O'Brien's Ace, ridden by Kieren Fallon, led with 200 metres to go but faded to fourth, later promoted to third.

That was the high point for O'Brien and Fallon as Guineas and Oaks hope Silk And Scarlet finished down the field in her race, as did Dark Cheetah and Cougar Cat in the colts' trial, while Falstaff was fourth of five in the Derby trial and was disqualified when Fallon was found to have weighed in too light.

Bago, meanwhile, will be on view to a wider audience next in either Ireland or Britain. Alan Cooper, racing manager to the colt's owners, the Niarchos family, said: "Bago could go for the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh on 22 May or the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot at York in June."

Gillet added: "It's great to ride such a super horse. It wasn't ideal ground but he has so much class and that saw him through."

The Niarchos family also won the Prix de la Grotte with Divine Proportions who had been pulled out of the 1,000 Guineas because it was thought she would not be ready. She now heads for the French version.

¿ Tomorrow's card at Newton Abbot has been abandoned, waterlogged.

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