There was at least something to brighten the day for South Africa yesterday when Mike de Kock, that country's leading trainer, opened his scoring here with 11-1 shot Archipenko in the Summer Mile. The four-year-old defied a three-month layoff to beat 50-1 shot Barshiba by three-quarters of a length, with last year's winner Cesare, the 6-4 favourite, third. "I think I'm in the best place," said De Kock. "I'm not going anywhere near Lord's."
At the end of last year Archipenko was surplus to requirements at Ballydoyle – after winning the Leopardstown Derby Trial he finished last in the real thing at Epsom – but has gone from strength to strength under the care of De Kock, who has acquired a world-class reputation since emerging from his Johannesburg base to broader global horizons.
Kevin Shea sent Archipenko, who won a valuable contest in Hong Kong in April on his previous run, to the lead early in the straight. "We thought he might need the run," said the rider, "and I thought I might have gone for home too early. But the little horse is all heart."
It seems he is all brain, too. De Kock added: "He's really intelligent, one of the smartest I've had and is learning all the time." Archipenko will resume his globetrotting in next month's Arlington Million in Chicago. "He was one of a package of horses I bought, and it's been a privilege to have him," said De Kock. "I wanted to start him off quietly here and avoid all the big guns, but this turned out to be one of the hottest Group Twos of the season."
One of those large-bore rivals was Godolphin's Ramonti, a ring-rusty fifth after a 216-day injury-induced absence. "We knew he'd need the race and the ground wouldn't suit," said Frankie Dettori, "but we needed to get him back running. Job done." A repeat win in the Sussex Stakes now beckons for last year's top miler.
This afternoon Godolphin's Rio De La Plata is one of six raiders from Britain in the 16-runner Prix Jean Prat over the two-bend Chantilly mile. The others include Kandahar Run (Henry Cecil), likewise coming on from a non-staying unplaced effort in the Derby, seasonal debutant Winker Watson (Peter Chapple-Hyam) and Raven's Pass (John Gosden), second in the St James's Palace Stakes.
The victory of Archipenko was a reminder of the excellence of the Ballydoyle product and not an hour later at York yet another of the Co Tipperary stable's rejects, Yellowstone (coincidentally runner-up in that Derby trial last year) won at York.
Today's other Group One contest, the Irish Oaks at the Curragh, provides a platform for Aidan O'Brien to continue his dominance at the top. Not only would victory by one of his six runners bring the seasonal Ballydoyle top-level tally to 13, but it would also mark a seventh successive Irish Classic for the operation. Last month's Oaks runner-up Moonstone is perceived as the most likely of the O'Brien sextet to continue the sequence.
Yesterday's richest domestic prize, the £93,465 for the John Smith's Cup at York, went to the Richard Fahey-trained Flying Clarets. The five-year-old mare, runner-up in last year's edition of the ten-furlong handicap, was given an enterprising ride from the front by 7lb claimer Frederik Tylicki for the biggest win of his career.