A week of Classic trials began at Longchamp yesterday with a first career defeat for Dabirsim, the outstanding French juvenile last season. Ridden for the first time by Christophe Soumillon, and also making his first start at a mile, the colt raced keenly in the early stages but took over smoothly in the straight with his rider apparently intent on coasting home.
By the time he spotted Dragon Pulse gathering momentum as the post loomed, Soumillon had not even left himself time to wind up and use his whip.
He was duly collared on the line by a colt previously trained in Ireland by Jessica Harrington but now with Mikel Delzangles, who is likely to bring him back to Longchamp next month for a rematch in the local version of the 2,000 Guineas.
Soumillon had earlier won a fillies' trial on Beauty Parlour, now unbeaten in three starts and plainly a very high-class prospect.
The PW McGrath Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown, meanwhile, often used as a stepping stone for potential Epsom colts, was won for the third year running by Jim Bolger with Light Heavy. The Teofilo colt, in only his third start, stayed on stoutly over the longer trip to see off Call To Battle by two and a half lengths.
Bolger hopes to bring the winner back for the Derrinstown Trial over the same distance next month, but sees him as a more suitable candidate for his home Derby than Epsom. "He only does what he has to, he's a very laid-back horse – hardy, yet still responds when he's asked," he said.
David Livingston, the leading Ballydoyle candidate, failed to pick up in fifth. But Aidan O'Brien did win both the card's Guineas trials, Homecoming Queen in the fillies' and Furner's Green in the colts'.
Chris McGrath's Nap: Rosslyn Castle (3.30 Windsor)
An unfancied fourth in his sole start to date, at Sandown last September; a useful middle-distance pedigree promises plenty more over this longer trip.
Next best: Pittodrie Star (3.15 W'hampton)
Second in a better race at Musselburgh and entitled to be competitive off the same mark.
One to watch: Joyful Spirit (John Dunlop) looked capable of exceeding a modest mark on her reappearance at Nottingham on Wednesday, raised in trip yet readily contesting a strong pace.