Racing: Dalakhani may put his brilliance on display at Curragh

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The Independent Online

Dalakhani maintained his unbeaten record in commanding style when galloping away with the Prix du Jockey-Club at Chantilly yesterday and could next take on the best Irish- and British-trained three-year-olds in the Irish Derby at the Curragh.

The handsome colt was always coasting in the French Derby and pulled clear of his rivals in the final two furlongs with his jockey, Christophe Soumillon, barely having to shake the reins to get the desired result.

Even Super Celebre, the only real challenger to emerge from out of the pack in the home straight in pursuit of the winner, was flattered to get within two lengths at the line. Coroner finished a further three lengths away in third place.

The win leaves Dalakhani's owner, the Aga Khan, in the enviable position of having had one Derby winner and also looking forward to the run of top contender, Alamshar, in the Epsom version this weekend. Excitingly, he refused to rule out the possibility of the colts meeting in a showdown later this season, providing that both continue to progress in the desired fashion.

"The way it worked it always seemed the obvious route for Alamshar [trained in Ireland by John Oxx] was to go to Epsom while we brought this colt here," the Aga Khan said.

"They probably wouldn't meet until the Arc de Triomphe but if they were both on course for the race and things had gone to plan then I wouldn't be afraid for them to race against each other. This is an amazing colt who is maturing all the time, an elegant and talented horse.

"He has such presence that it is not so much you who watches him as him watching you when he races. Today was the first time that he has really had to stretch."

Dalakhani could now take in the Irish Derby on 29 June. His trainer, Alan Royer-Dupre, said: "We will see how he is before thinking about plans - we will also have to see how Alamshar gets on this weekend. He's an exceptional horse. He's very calm, a good mover and he's unbeaten. He's very easy for a trainer."

Soumillon, who waved his whip close home to emphasise that he had not had to recourse to using it at any stage, said that he was unsure exactly when the scale of improvement would end with his mount.

"He has run six times and won six times," the young jockey beamed. "It was a good pace and the way he travelled was unbelievable. Always he is better and better."

Super Celebre, the runner-up, is now set to be rested before returning for the Prix Niel, a traditional trial for the Arc at Longchamp in October.

André Fabre's well-touted colt Papineau found the quick going against him, Frankie Dettori reported after he had trailed home well beaten, although the Italian had enjoyed better luck earlier on in the afternoon.

Tears were flowing after the conclusion of the other Group One race on the card, the Prix Jean Prat, although not from backers of the 2.8-1 winner Vespone. Owned by a syndicate of three Norwegian businessmen, the winner is one of four horses they have in training at present with Nicolas Clement.

Vespone handled the conditions well and stuck on gamely to beat Prince Kirk and Dettori by three lengths with the favourite, Tashkandi, third. It was a first Group One success for the winning rider, Christophe Lemaire, who burst into tears with the emotion of the occasion as he returned to weigh in.

It was about the only water seen on a scorchingly hot afternoon, where the bright sunshine scotched fears that the ground might have been over-watered.

Vespone has the option of heading to Royal Ascot next month but connections favour the Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp in three weeks' time as the most likely target.

Royal Ascot, however, could be the aim for Maiden Tower, who gave Dettori his 300th Group-race success in the Prix de Sandringham. The Alex Pantall-trained filly was given a classic front-running ride by his pilot and stayed on well to hold the late thrust of Acago.

Intercontinental, third in the Sagitta 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket last month, proved a big disappointment for Fabre, proving a real handful on the way to the starting gate, running free in the early stages and fading close home to finish third again.

Maiden Tower is owned by Sheikh Mohammed, whose adviser John Ferguson commented: "That was a very good performance and the Coronation Stakes at Ascot could be a plan, but we also have Campsie Fells, who was fourth in the Prix Saint-Alary and we would like to drop her back to a mile, so we'll have to think about it."

Dettori, while delighted with the landmark success, also hinted that Maiden Tower's temperament might not be up to a trip across the Channel. "She is definitely up to that class and she is a very good filly but she is very hot - a bit of a Moulin Rouge."

British runners may not have been represented in the feature contest, but they did manage a one-two in the Listed Prix La Moscowa as the Peter Harris-trained Barathea Blazer caught John Gosden's Windermere on the post.


Going: Good

PRIX LA MOSCOWA: 1. BARATHEA BLAZER (C Soumillon); 2. Windermere 3. Miraculous. 6 ran. (P Harris). Tote: £6.20; £2.10, £1.30. CSF: £14.50. NR: Generic.

PRIX DU JOCKEY-CLUB: 1. DALAKHANI (C Soumillon) 4-11 fav; 2. Super Celebre 7-2; 3. Coroner 20-1. 7 ran. 2, 3. (A De Royer Dupre). Tote: £1.40; £1.10, £1.20. Exacta: £2.08. CSF: £2.40. Winner coupled with Diyapour.