Scorpion seizes the Ballydoyle crown

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The Group 1 race, moved on a month, extended to 12 furlongs and closed to older horses as part up of a shake-up in the Gallic part of the élite calendar, now represents the final act of the European three-year-old middle-distance colts' scene. Although it may have provided Scorpion with some compensation for his narrow defeat by Hurricane Run in the Irish Derby last month, it also showed him to be a highly progressive member of his generation.

As rank outsider Airex set a steady gallop, Fallon soon moved to shadow the leader and keep him honest through the first half of the contest. Down the far side of the course it was apparent that Scorpion was travelling well within himself; behind him Laverock, who had finished third in the French Derby, was coming under pressure.

Two furlongs out Desideratum, with Chris-tophe Soumillon wearing Sheikh Mohammed's first colours on the André Fabre inmate, moved smoothly through to challenge Scorpion and the two began to draw clear as they set to for the final charge.

Desideratum may even have put his head in front for a stride, but it was only for that fleeting instant. Fallon gathered Scorpion and asked for more, and the stinging response was swift and deadly.

The powerful dark bay son of Montjeu, the 6-4 favourite, lengthened, quickened and galloped resolutely to the line, giving generously despite his highish head carriage. The St Leger, for which he has hardened as 5-4 favourite, has been mooted as his end-of-summer assignment, but such is his rate of progress he may be diverted to perceived sexier targets.

His owners, though, also have Hurricane Run, Desideratum's stablemate, on their books. He is the 3-1 Arc favourite, for which Scorpion was cut to 8-1, from 20-1, after yesterday's display.

The colt had disappointed on his previous outing in France, when he beat just one home in a steadily run French Derby but this time Fallon said: "He is improving all the time, getting better and better. We wanted to make the running but then the other fellow [Airex] wanted to, so I decided to settle mine in behind and I was never worried. I was confident he could produce the goods when he wanted to."

Scorpion's victory added to the lustre of his Coolmore-based sire, this year's stallion sensation. After the two Derby winners, Motivator and Hurricane Run, he is the third individual three-year-old Group 1 winner from Montjeu's first crop, a feat not achieved even by his own sire Sadler's Wells. Typically, Scorpion displayed the tribe's feisty tendencies before yesterday's race.

The last mainstream fillies' Classic takes place on Sunday at the Curragh with the 111th running of the Irish Oaks.

British raiders have taken four of the past six renewals (most lately last year's heroine Ouija Board) and will field the first two favourites this time, in Dash To The Top (Luca Cumani) and Playful Act (John Gosden).

They will be joined by Thakafaat, and possibly her John Dunlop stablemate Cassydora, but Sir Mark Prescott's Songerie was ruled out yesterday.

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