Beheshtam's Arc chance in balance
Injury doubt over Aga Khan colt throws spotlight on to Fabre's emerging contenders
Wednesday 22 July 2009
Last autumn Zarkava became the first to do so in a quarter of a century, but the emergence of two more ladies of leisure in Stacelita and Sariska – who between them have just strolled to championship wins by an aggregate of seven lengths – is already prompting talk that a three-year-old filly could again win the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. It was only eight days ago, however, that Zarkava's own connections went on reconnaissance to the Arc course and distance in the hope that Beheshtam could consolidate a more conventional profile for the race.
Unfortunately for Alain de Royer-Dupré, Christophe Soumillon and the Aga Khan – respectively his trainer, jockey and owner – their colt proved very disappointing in the Grand Prix de Paris. Sent off at odds-on for what is nowadays recognised as the closest thing to a French Derby, Beheshtam came sixth of the eight runners, beaten over five lengths by Cavalryman.
Yesterday, however, De Royer-Dupré said he had found the problem. "The horse came out of the race with a problem in his back, I think in his pelvis," the trainer said. "He was cut across on the inside, and after that you could see from the way he was moving that his race was finished. He was not correct the next morning, but he should be all right after a week."
In the circumstances, De Royer-Dupré is reluctant to commit to any future programme. "Maybe he can go for the Arc," he said. "But if so I would like him to be able to have two races first. Certainly, he will have a break now, and wait for good ground."
The trainer also had tidings of Reggane, beaten only by Ghanaati when making her third start in the Coronation Stakes. This filly holds an entry in the Blue Square Nassau Stakes at Goodwood on Saturday week, but she will be kept to home soil – and a mile – for another Group One prize, the Prix Rothschild, at Deauville the day after.
As for Cavalryman, he was amplifying the growing reputations not only of his young rider, Maxime Guyon, but also of Cutlass Bay, who had beaten him at Longchamp in the spring. Both colts are trained for Sheikh Mohammed by André Fabre, who is considering the Grand Prix de Deauville, at the end of the seaside track's traditional August carnival, as a possible resumption for Cutlass Bay.
Ffos Las shows the way
A series of tired gaffes at other venues this summer makes the impeccable first chapters of Britain's newest racecourse all the more edifying. Patrons and professionals alike saluted Ffos Las when it became the first new turf track to open in 80 years, with a sold-out jumps card last month. Yesterday, despite heavy rain, its first Flat meeting also drew enthusiastic plaudits from jockeys.
Michael Hills, who rode Our Dream Queen to victory in the opener, was typical. "Cantering down, I couldn't believe how it has held together with a lot of rain," he said. "It rode good, but loose on top. It's a lovely, fair track, beautifully made."
The official "grand opening" takes place with a jumps card on 28 August, followed by a weekend of Flat racing on 12 and 13 September.
End of era for Politics
Party Politics, the giant steeplechaser who answered the call of destiny by winning the Grand National in 1992, an election year, has been put down at the venerable age of 25.
He had spent his retirement at Cheveley Park Stud, whose owners, David and Patricia Thompson, still cherish his Aintree success as much as many of the great days they have enjoyed on the Flat. They bought the horse, who was trained by Nick Gaselee and ridden by Carl Llewellyn, just three days before the race.
"He was a fantastic jumper of the National fences, and gave me one of the best days of my life," Llewellyn reflected. "It was a real shame he never got the chance to win back-to-back Nationals, as he was going significantly better at The Chair in the 1993 void National [when pulled up] than when he won it in 1992."
Turf account: Chris McGrath
Tanmeya (4.40 Worcester) Yet another to make dramatic improvement for her transfer to Tim Vaughan, winning easily over fences here last week, and runs off a similar rating switched to hurdles today.
Burgundy Ice (8.15 Sandown) With a top-class pedigree, as a Storm Cat half-sister to Bernardini, and starts in handicaps off a rating that leaves margin for improvement.
One to watch
Aim To Achieve (B W Hills) Enjoyed the run of the race on her handicap debut over a mile at Newmarket on Saturday, setting a steady pace before rallying for a close third, but looks certain to appreciate a stiffer test of stamina.
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