Ski Paradise came with a strong late run to beat East Of The Moon, the hot favourite, in the Prix du Moulin, and the winning rider, Yutaka Take, now has a strong defence against those who believe inexperience of the Paris track will be his undoing in next month's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.
Take, the Japanese champion, will replace John Reid on White Muzzle in the season's most important middle- distance contest at the insistence of Teruya Yoshida, the colt's owner, and against the wishes of Peter Chapple- Hyam, his trainer.
The same arrangement was in place when White Muzzle finished second to King's Theatre in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot in July, when some observers were quick to blame the rider, rather than knock-on interference from the riderless Ezzoud, for White Muzzle's defeat.
Punters, however, seem to have given him the benefit of the doubt, and confirmation earlier this week that Reid had been jocked off did not affect White Muzzle's position as 9-2 favourite for the Arc. Indeed, Take's success yesterday may cause his price to contract still further.
Ski Paradise's victory seemed to dispel doubts about the filly's ability to see out a truly-run mile, as Marildo, the outsider of the seven runners, set a good early pace. Green Tune hit the front with a furlong to race, with East Of The Moon, long odds-on after her success in the Prix Jacques le Marois last month which had seemed to confirm her as the best miler in Europe, poised to strike.
Take, though, timed his challenge to perfection, coming wide to beat them both, by three quarters of a length and a short-head. His mount paid 10.20 on the Pari-Mutuel.
'We won very easily,' Take said. 'I always feared East Of The Moon, but my horse was very relaxed today. I have won many Group races in Japan but this was one of my biggest moments.'
Sayyedati, the British challenger for yesterday's race, was a severe disappointment. Clive Brittain's four-year-old, ridden by Walter Swinburn, was unable to get into a challenging position and was clearly beaten at the distance, eventually finishing fifth. 'She looked okay and I can't see why she ran below form,' Brittain said. 'She must have had an off day, as fillies can do. We shall have to wait and see about the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.'
East Of The Moon, too, was disappointing, as most punters had expected a comfortable exercise gallop for Francois Boutin's three-year-old, whose five previous outings had yielded three Group One victories. 'She didn't show the lightning acceleration that she did in the Jacques le Marois,' Cash Asmussen, her jockey, said.
Boutin felt that he was to blame for East Of The Moon's defeat. 'Maybe I have been a little easy on her since her brilliant win at Deauville,' he conceded. A positive postscript for British racegoers is that Boutin may now increase the work-rate by sending East Of The Moon abroad for the first time, to the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot.
Following Sayyedati's poor showing, British honour was further diminished half an hour later in the Prix des Tourelles, in which Overact, trained by Lady Herries, finished last of the 10 runners.
One foreign purse did return to Britain, however, when John Dunlop's Spaghetti House took the Premio Eupili at San Siro. However, Dunlop's second runner in Italy, Otto E Mezzo, fell in the Premio Toscana in Florence, bringing down two of the other six contestants in the process. All three escaped serious injury.
In Europe's third Group One event of the weekend, the Grosser Preis at Baden-Baden, Heinz Jentzsch's Lando beat his stablemate Monsun by two lengths. The standard of German racing is slowly improving and Lando may now be allowed to take his chance in the Arc. The horse to beat, though, is still the one with the Japanese champion in the saddle.
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