The emergence of Jean-Claude Rouget as one of France's leading Flat trainers was crowned yesterday when he saddled four winners at Chantilly – including Le Havre in the Prix du Jockey-Club.
This colt by Noverre is the latest miler to benefit from the abbreviation of the race distance in 2005, from 12 furlongs to ten and a half. It is a lesser leap of faith than the one accomplished by Sea The Stars the previous day, but this colt certainly got home well, cutting down Fuisse after that rival had kicked clear in the straight. Westphalia led home the Ballydoyle raiders in third, drawn much wider than the winner but not really seeing out the race with much conviction.
Rouget has been training since the late 1970s but his yard, down in Pau, has only recently broken into the elite. Last month at Longchamp he won his first Classic with Elusive Wave, who heads to Royal Ascot next week.
"I didn't know if Le Havre would stay, as his pedigree is very fast," he admitted. "And because I wasn't sure, I wasn't overly confident. This season has been magnificent. We have been doing the same job at home – but they are better horses."