Meandre win makes France's day
National honour was upheld on Bastille Day when André Fabre won the Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris for an 11th time last night. The trainer of Pour Moi has now introduced another three-year-old to the equation for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, run over the same course and distance in October, after Meandre cut down the front-running Seville for a decisive success.
For much of the race, it looked as though Aidan O'Brien would be rewarded for turning this sunlit evening in the Bois de Boulogne into a quintessentially Irish occasion. For Seamie Heffernan set the sort of pace you seldom see at Longchamp, shadowed by Colm O'Donoghue on Treasure Beach, the colt who had been nailed in the final stride at Epsom by Pour Moi, and then wore down Seville in his home Derby.
The bold strategy certainly seemed to be paying off as Reliable Man, the unbeaten favourite who was stepping up in distance, came off the bridle and struggled to make ground in the straight. But Meandre, who had led the chasing group under Maxime Guyon, seemed to relish the strong pace and closed impressively. A late developer, Meandre had scrambled home in his last two races in lesser grade, but the very fact that the masterly Fabre supplemented him made this stunning leap forward less surprising.
Seville maintained the gallop with characteristic honesty, again looking a natural for the Ladbrokes St Leger, but Treasure Beach could keep on only at the one pace in fourth and is due a break after two very taxing races since the start of June. O'Brien's disappointment was completed by the lacklustre performance of Marksmanship, who was never going.
But the next round of the carousel is already gathering momentum, and back on home soil O'Brien had earlier laid down a couple of significant markers for the 2012 Classics. Maybe, ante-post favourite for the 1,000 Guineas, was admittedly little better than workmanlike in Group Three company at Leopardstown, but perhaps this came soon enough after her impressive performance at Royal Ascot.
On the night, you have to say, there was rather more excitement about the debut of Camelot, whose flamboyant maiden success prompted Paddy Power to offer 16-1 for next year's Derby.
Such is the preponderance of middle-distance pedigrees at Ballydoyle nowadays that O'Brien accounted for three of the six runners in this early test at a mile. His son, Joseph, held up the odds-on favourite at the rear and allowed him to cruise round the field from the home turn, going two lengths clear essentially under his own steam.
Though O'Brien doubtless has a series of Galileo colts in reserve, this son of Montjeu has the authentic look of an elite performer in the making. He is out of a Kingmambo mare, herself a Group winner, and cost 525,000 guineas as a yearling. At this early stage, it remains conceivable that even that may prove money pretty well spent.
O'Brien's old adversaries at Godolphin have some promising youngsters of their own coming through, and morale in both camps is high in advance of the showdown between their older stars, St Nicholas Abbey and Rewilding, at Ascot tomorrow week.
Yesterday Saeed bin Suroor won a listed race at Hamilton through Hunter's Light, who showed a good attitude to see off the tenacious rally of Malthouse. Hunter's Light was one of three winners on the card for the flourishing Phillip Makin, who must have been especially impressed by the way Sardanapalus won the opener for his boss, Kevin Ryan.
Chris McGrath's Nap
Dinkum Diamond (7.25 Newmarket) Shaped well when given the slip by a well-drawn rival last time.
Captain Brown (4.35 Haydock) Set plenty to do last time; this extra distance can confirm him on a fair mark.
One to watch
Hal Of A Lover (David O'Meara) Suggested he will improve further when third at Catterick on Wednesday.
Where the money's going
Wonder Of Wonders is 4-5 from evens with Paddy Power for the Darley Irish Oaks on Sunday.
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