VICTORY had been achieved at Agincourt in the face of greater numbers on French soil, so it was hardly surprising when British-based runners dominated the Poule d'Essai des Poulains (French 2,000 Guineas) at Longchamp yesterday.
On this occasion the longbowmen were not there to smooth a path, but that did not prevent the quills following home the first four foreign runners. Victory Note spearheaded the invasion of "les rosbifs", followed by Muhtathir, Desert Prince and La-Faah. The minority of the 12-strong field, the five French horses which included the favourite, With The Flow, were impaled.
Victory Note had been a narrow winner of Newbury's Greenham Stakes, but the success had been authoritative enough to persuade connections to slide him into a Classic. The colt repaid that faith by charging from first to last, in the hands of John Reid, to win rather cleverly at the post. "This was a surprise but we paid pounds 10,000 to supplement him for this race and it has turned out to be money well spent," Robert Sangster, who owns Victory Note in partnership with Jane Magnier, said.
The shock and the delight was felt not only by Sangster as the few who had chosen to support his colt on the Pari-mutuel were rewarded by odds of over 25-1. The George V Hotel, where the big-hitters repose, would have been a grateful venue.
If the waiters intend to play up their hefty tips they will need to take serving time off in the middle of June. Victory Note, who collected over pounds 100,000 for his paymasters yesterday, is now likely to participate in the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Desert Prince would have been an apt alternative selection for Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin team, and he indeed finished ahead of the royal blue colours of Altibr and Zaya.
The ropes had pinged off the sleeping Godolphin giant with Cape Verdi in the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket last week, and they had hoped to follow up with La Nuit Rose in the French equivalent (Poule d'Essai des Pouliches) yesterday, though the imported filly could finish only third to the Aga Khan's favourite Zalaiyka, and Cortona.
Like Cape Verdi herself, Zalaiyka is considered to be considerably superior to her domestic contemporaries. "She was a class above today," jockey Gerald Mosse said of the filly who will now probably go for the Prix de Diane (French Oaks).
Frankie Dettori, La Nuit Rose's partner, was considered by officials to be a class below in an earlier race and was suspended for four days after Capital Prince was demoted to fourth place for causing interference.
If Dettori is to listen to the erudite comments of the parade guru at next week's Goodwood meeting - Gary Nutting - he will have to do so with the public's paddock earphones over his head. He will not be on horseback.
The third Group One race on the card was collected by Croco Rouge, though Pascal Bary's colt had to fight hard for a beast that was being touted as a Derby consideration in the lead up to the race.
William Hill had gone 33-1 about the French creature until Saturday morning, when Mark Winstanley - who is among the talented men with a brown paper parcel under his arm following the merger between the Racing Post and The Sporting Life - quietly mentioned the name on The Morning Line television programme.
Pandemonium with a ball-point followed and before you could say "sorry I've had a late breakfast" there was the smell of butchered prices in Hills' shops as Croco was down in the 20s. If only Mark had suggested the cutting should have been of bookmakers' reproductive systems.
2.15: Poule D'Essai Des Pouliches (1,000 Guineas): 1. ZALAIYKA; 2. Cortona; 3. La Nuit Rose. Pari-mutuel: (to a 1 franc stake) win 2.2; places 1.2, 4.1, 2.2. (trained by A de Royer-Dupre). 14 ran. Non Runner Majoune.
3.20: Poule D'Essai Des Poulains (2,000 Guineas): 1. VICTORY NOTE; 2. Muhtathir; 3. Desert Prince. Pari-mutuel: 26.2; 7.5, 11.7, 6.2. (P Chapple- Hyam). 12 ran. Non Runner Merlin's Ring.
3.50: Prix Lupin (Group One): 1. CROCO ROUGE; 2. Daymarti. Pari-mutuel: 3.0; 1.8, 2.1. (P Bary). 5 ran.
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