Intello makes challenge for Ruler's crown
Prix du Jockey-Club winner can rival Derby victor as Dettori suffers disappointing day
Another day, another Classic winner for Galileo. True, the traditional billing of the Prix du Jockey-Club as "the French Derby" has rung increasingly hollow since its abbreviation to 10 furlongs in 2005. No less a trainer than Alain de Royer-Dupré had looked ahead to the spectacle of 19 horses jostling round the bends of Chantilly yesterday as "stock-car racing".
On this occasion, however, a strong pace ensured that there was rather less trouble in running – and grumbling about the draw – than has tended to be the case. And the decisive success of Intello, trained by André Fabre, represented an immediate challenge to the claims of Ruler Of The World, who had come of age at Epsom barely 24 hours earlier, as the premier middle-distance colt of their generation in Europe.
Intello had impressed when sent over to the Craven meeting at Newmarket, and then looked unlucky to lose his unbeaten record in the French Guineas, flying into third after meeting traffic from his wide draw.
He was duly sent off a strong favourite yesterday and, always well placed, quickened smartly in the straight to win by two lengths from Morandi, who just caught Fabre's other runner, Sky Hunter, for second. Intello is now 8-1 with William Hill for the Arc, and as short as 6-1 elsewhere.
Frankie Dettori, returning to France after finally having his licence restored there last Thursday, did suffer some interference on First Cornerstone but his mount may well have found this race – just eight days after his comeback at the Curragh – coming too soon. He trailed in 15th, the best of the overseas raiders instead proving to be Willie The Whipper, who rattled through from last to sixth.
In the process he completed a proud weekend for Yorkshire – also home to Libertarian, who had produced such a remarkable charge for second in the Derby. Conversely the midfield finish of Loch Garman at Chantilly compounded the disappointment of Jim Bolger after the dramatic implosion of Dawn Approach's Epsom challenge.
The irony will have been lost on few that it should have been Loch Garmon's pacemaker who guaranteed the tempo yesterday. For it was the funereal early pace at Epsom that had caused Dawn Approach to squander the energy he needed to conserve for the longer distance.
Naturally enough, connections of Ruler Of The World innocently persevered with the pre-race consensus that any strategy calculated to turn over the favourite would instead have required them to set a "mad" gallop. But William Buick, Libertarian's rider, made it clear that the only jockeys who were not surprised by what happened were the five riding for Ballydoyle. Its presumed authors may demur, but to everyone else it was a masterstroke – a stunning double bluff.
It certainly created a gripping spectacle. By the time Kevin Manning quit fighting Dawn Approach, allowing him to take it up by halfway, the game was palpably up. Though Bolger had long suspected that his champion might not stay, he is unaccustomed to being outsmarted. It is safe to say that he will not have enjoyed the novelty.
Inevitably, those who had raced more tractably were unable to achieve a definitive measure of their relative merits in the dash for the line. But it is important to stress that Ruler Of The World, as a thorough stayer at the trip, would himself be unsuited by a sprint and did well to respond to a typically alert ride from Ryan Moore. For now he deserves full credit as a colt who has won a Derby not two months after his racecourse debut.
Having emerged as the cream of Aidan O'Brien's usual team of improvers – and Coolmore's third consecutive Derby winner – Ruler Of The World has earned due priority in his next race. That is likely to be his home Derby, where he would surely be furnished with a suitable platform to rebuke those still damning him with faint praise.
Mind you, a stronger pace will also suit Libertarian, who began his own career the same week as Ruler Of The World, and already looks a Ladbrokes St Leger colt for the host county. Both colts, however, have come a long way very quickly. With Fabre likely to give Intello a summer break, both Karl Burke and O'Brien might yet ponder following suit.
CHRIS McGRATH'S NAP: True Prince (6.15 Carlisle)
Best run yet for his new stable when just failing in a photo with a thriving rival last time, the pair miles clear.
NEXT BEST: Opus Maximus (5.45 Leicester)
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