Vettori heads Godolphin treble

Sue Montgomery at Longchamp reports on a truly international day
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The Independent Online
Modern racing showed its truly international face here yesterday, when the three Group One races fell to horses trained by a Belgian-bred Frenchwoman, an Englishman whose career started in California, and a Newmarket-based Arab.

And two of the winners, Flemensfirth and Vettori, were ridden by an Anglophile Italian.

Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin bandwagon rolled on in a serious way when Vettori, who wintered in Dubai under the nominal care of Saeed Bin Suroor, stuck his head out to beat the favourite Atticus a short neck in the Poule d'Essai des Poulains (French 2,000 Guineas).

It was a gutsy performance from the colt, having only his third race, and his rider, Lanfranco Dettori, said: "It was a fantastic effort for such an inexperienced horse."

It was the third Group One race on an extraordinary day worldwide for 28-year-old Bin Suroor, a former policeman whose appointment as Godolphin trainer was announced less than two months ago. Earlier yesterday, his Heart Lake had won a £600,000 event in Japan and then Flagbird took the Premio Presidente della Repubblica in Italy.

Vettori, along with the 1,000 Guineas third Moonshell, was transferred to Dubai from Henry Cecil at the end of last season. He is likely to be the Goldolphin runner in the Derby, for which he is only 16-1 with Coral. Simon Crisford, who supervises the Sheikh's Al Quoz stables in Dubai, said: "We tried him with some decent horses out there, and we knew he was at least good enough to take his chance at the highest level. Whether he will stay 12 furlongs is open to question, but his dam is fairly stoutly bred."

General Monash, trained by Peter Chapple-Hyam, was back in sixth. Another English-based challenger, Michael Bell's filly, Hoh Magic, finished only eighth in the previous event, the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (French 1,000 Guineas). Criquette Head gained a fifth victory in this race, with Matiara, but it was only by a fast-diminishing nose that the Bering filly held Carling at bay. She then had to survive a stewards' inquiry into a barging match between her rider, Freddie Head, and Cash Asmussen on the unplaced Piquetnol. These two fillies are likely to meet again in the Prix de Diane (French Oaks).

Flemensfirth, trained by John Gosden, became the first British-based winner of the Prix Lupin since Rheingold in 1973, but is most unlikely to try to emulate Sea-Bird II, who 30 years ago was the last horse to take both the Prix Lupin and the Derby.

Yet another Sheikh Mohammed winner, Flemensfirth, booked his place in the Prix du Jockey-Club field with a length victory from hot favourite Solar One. Gosden said: "He is a high-action horse and would not be suited by Epsom." Flemensfirth found Longchamp's rain-eased ground much to his liking, under a clever ride from Dettori.

LONGCHAMP: 1.50 (Prix Lupin): 1. Flemensfirth; 2. Solar One. Pari-Mutuel (1Fr stake): win 2.70; places 1.30, 1.10. SFC: 9.80. (winner coupled with Angel Falls). 6 ran.

3.00 (Poule d'Essai des Pouliches): 1. Matiara; 2. Carling; 3. Shaanxi. Pari-Mutuel: 3.60; 1.50, 2.50, 1.70. DFC: 18.50. 16 ran.

3.35 (Poule d'Essai de Poulains): 1. Vettori; 2. Atticus; 3. Petit Poucet. Pari-Mutuel: win 5.50; 1.50, 1.10, 1.30. DFC: 12.20. 8 ran (NR: Kirdoun).

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