The result of yesterday's Prix Morny at Deauville brought several old adages into play, the ones about clouds and silver linings, doors serially closing and opening, and the law of sod.
The stylish winner, Dutch Art, was his trainer Peter Chapple-Hyam's first Group One winner since his return to Britain nearly three years ago after failing to cut a dash in Hong Kong. The colt is owned by Paul and Susan Roy, who bought him as a replacement for their ill-fated Majors Cast, fatally injured on the gallops in June. He was acquired from Matthew Green, whose Excellent Art finished only third behind his former fellow-colour bearer yesterday.
The bright chestnut Dutch Art, who won the six-furlong contest by a comfortable length, clearly is a bit of an oil-painting. Criquette Head-Maarek, who supplied the runner-up Magic America, presciently marked him as the one to beat after paddock inspection. He was just as impressive in the race; Christophe Soumillon, a late sub for unwell Alan Munro, stalked the favourite Sandwaki, a slightly reluctant trailblazer after a pedestrian early pace, before committing a good furlong out.
Dutch Art responded willingly and easily, quickening clear on the soggy ground. Magic America came from last place to beat Excellent Art, sent over by Neville Callaghan, by a head with Sandwaki fading to fourth some way behind.
It was Soumillon's 11th top-level success of the season, the most by any jockey in Europe, and although he regularly attracts criticism there was no flamboyance yesterday, just a grateful pat as the post was safely passed. "I was delighted when asked at the last minute to ride," said the Belgian. "The English never come over to France for nothing. I saw Olivier [Peslier] wasn't going a great pace in front and decided to hide in behind him before making my move."
Only time will tell whether Green who, as one of the family who run a Bond Street gallery, clearly knows a lot about art, will rue Dutch's going, for the son of Medicean, a mere 16,000-guinea yearling, is now unbeaten in three, having won the Norfolk Stakes on his first outing for the Roys.
The Prix Morny, which has been won by luminaries like Divine Proportions, Johannesburg and Fasliyev in recent years, may have lost some of its lustre with the withdrawal of Ballydoyle representative Holy Roman Emperor because of ground deemed too soft. There were similar concerns on Dutch Art's part, but he coped.
"It wasn't the most ideal going for him," said Chapple-Hyam, "so he did very well." Dutch Art, who holds entries in the Middle Park and Dewhurst Stakes, has now entered the bookmakers' lists for next year's 2,000 Guineas, with William Hill the most impressed at 16-1.
The other British day trippers to the seaside fared less well. Sir Michael Stoute's charge Red Bloom had to settle for third place in the 10-furlong Prix Jean Romanet behind Satwa Queen and Sweet Stream, who was returning to the racecourse after failing to get in foal. Strawberry Dale, from James Bethell's yard, set the early pace but faded.
The Group One stage switches from the up-market French resort to urban, earthy Yorkshire tomorrow with the first of three days on the Knavesmire. The Irish Derby winner Dylan Thomas heads eight runners for the International Stakes, and is a rare Derby winner of any type in the 10-furlong race in their Classic year. The last two were Epsom heroes Benny The Dip, third in 1997, and Dr Devious, fourth five years before that.
The other top-level winners in the field are Cherry Mix for Godolphin and French raider Laverock. Stoute fields a pair, last year's close third Maraahel and Notnowcato, with Enforcer, Blue Monday and Snoqualmie Boy completing the line-up.
Mick Kinane, who will ride Dylan Thomas and the Ballydoyle contender in tomorrow's 10-runner Great Voltigeur Stakes, Fire And Rain, warmed up for the meeting with an easy victory on smart staying mare Kastoria, now bound for the Irish St Leger, in the Ballyroan Stakes at Leopardstown yesterday. Others involved in York's traditional St Leger trial - this year run over 12 furlongs of the course of the transferred final Classic - include Soapy Danger, Papal Bull and Championship Point.
Nap: Gigs Magic (Ayr 2.30)
NB: Blue Aura
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