Racing: Pistolet's only aim is the Arc: Ascot's richest race fails to attract France's finest as Eldorado finds wealth in a new world

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BLUE silks rather than a yellow jersey were to the fore in the big race in France yesterday but teamwork that would do credit to the leading outfit in the Tour de France produced an emphatic success for Pistolet Bleu. The Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud may have been slightly overshadowed in French national consciousness yesterday by the Tour and the Grand Prix featuring a rather greater magnitude of horsepower, but it still carried a first prize of pounds 154,162 and a startlingly clear-cut result.

Team Daniel Wildenstein used two pacemakers, Art Bleu and L'Oiseau Bleu, to cut out the running and so well did they burn up the stamina of the others that Pistolet Bleu was able to stride away for a five-length success. The time of 2 min 30.3 sec was remarkable considering the ground was soft.

Back in second was the filly that had deprived Pistolet Bleu of the runner-up spot in last year's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, Magic Night, with the even-money favourite, Subotica, third.

The race also gave reason for regret on at least two counts: it emphasised the sense of loss in the absence from the track of the Arc winner, Suave Dancer, and the lack of ambition towards tackling prizes in Britain of any of the leading participants.

'If the owner agrees, Pistolet Bleu will now have a break before running in the Prix Foy (on 13 September) and the Arc,' Elie Lellouche, the colt's trainer, said. Magic Night will take in the Prix de Pomone at Deauville before being aimed at the Arc, while Subotica is unlikely to return to Britain in a hurry after the bad experience of unpenalised interference at Epsom.

There was a time - and it was not so long ago - when the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes was as much a compulsory midsummer target for the top European middle-distance horses as the Arc remains an automatic objective for the autumn. The explanation for the trend away from the Ascot race probably has less to do with the prize-money on offer than the attractiveness of resting in mid-season for an autumn campaign that can also take in the Japan Cup, Breeders' Cup and a clutch of other lucrative North American prizes.

As a reminder of how rewarding a change in continents can be, the result of Saturday's American Handicap at Hollywood Park provides a perfect example. Man From Eldorado, who turned in three dreadful performances for Guy Harwood this season, took the Grade Two race only a few days after joining Neil Drysdale's stable. Second was a former inmate of Barry Hills's yard, Bold Russian, and third the much travelled Golden Pheasant.

And to continue the theme of how travel broadens the wallet, Michael Bell's Ancestral Dancer, successful at San Siro the previous Sunday, brought her winnings in Italy to over pounds 40,000 inside a week by landing a Listed event at the Milan track on Saturday.

After partnering Ancestral Dancer, Billy Newnes moved on to Hamburg yesterday for what he described as 'the happiest day of my life'. Victory on Pik Konig in the Deutsches Derby, at pounds 157,895 the richest race ever run in Germany, supplied the reason for his joy.

Germany may also be the next stop for Kooyonga, who could tackle the Grosser Mercedes Benz at Munich two weeks before her next possible target in Britain, the International Stakes at York on 18 August. Her end-of-season aim is the Japan Cup in her owner's homeland.

'I would say the International is almost certainly on the agenda but I am quite keen that she has a holiday before she goes off to Japan,' Michael Kauntze, her trainer, said yesterday.

Rest does not figure highly in the plans for Sapience, who was third to Kooyonga on Saturday. He is likely to be out again at Newmarket tomorrow, taking on Saddlers' Hall in the Princess of Wales's Stakes.

(Photograph omitted)

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