Prix Rothschild (Group 1)
IF the first day of Deauville’s annual month-long August jamboree is anything to go by, the patriotic turfistes who frequent the Hippodrome La Touques are in for a painful few weeks.
Tuesday saw a quartet of pattern races staged at the Normandy venue and all four went the way of visiting connections. What is worse, the locals often didn’t even get particularly competitive – of the 12 horses to fill the top three positions, a paltry three hailed from domestic yards.
And to think that there is still another week before the size of the overseas raiding party traditionally reaches its peak to coincide with the start of the European yearling sale season at Arqana.
So much for Brexit making crossing the Channel a risky endeavour in the heat – Saffron Beach endured a 12-hour box journey but was still much too strong for her rivals in the day’s feature, the Group 1 Prix Rothschild over a straight mile for fillies and mares, scoring by two and a half lengths under William Buick.
One of the key attributes that makes this daughter of New Bay so admirable is that she makes her own running, virtually cutting out the possibility of ill luck-in-running.
And stamina clearly won her the day: Aidan O’Brien’s Prix Jean Prat heroine, Tenebrism, made up a good two lengths from the two and a half furlong pole to eyeball the winner at the furlong marker, but all that ground was handed back in the last 100 yards, as Saffron Beach stretched clear of the young pretender.
Paddy Twomey’s Pearls Galore may have been slightly inconvenienced by racing away from the leader towards the stands side and could never really get in a blow, finishing fifth, just under four lengths behind the winner.
Given that she is from his first crop, Saffron Beach is a great advertisement for her Ballylinch Stud-based sire. New Bay was covering at €20,000 a pop when she was conceived but is a little more expensive these days.
Winning trainer Jane Chapple-Hyam believes that this imposing sort is still improving, and she remains on course to complete the ambitious campaign that was mapped out for her last winter – taking in both Dubai World Cup night (fourth) and Royal Ascot (first) with the nine and a half furlong Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf as her final destination. Next stop is likely to be the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown on September 10th, partly because that is a ‘Win And You’re In’ race for the Breeders’ Cup.
O’Brien was not downhearted saying: “Tenebrism went away to her right at the start, which didn’t help, and she’s been beaten by a very good filly. I am still convinced that she can stay the mile and she could come back to France [for the Prix du Moulin on September 4th] or stay at home for the Matron.”
Ballydoyle’s other runner on the card, The Antarctic, went one better in the Prix de Cabourg, a Group 3 six furlong event for two-year-olds, at the same time improving by one podium step the silver medal he achieved in the Group 2 Prix Robert Papin. Ryan Moore rode the perfect race on this Dark Angel full-brother to the multiple Group 1-winning sprinter, Battaash, getting a lovely tow into the race before switching out to challenge approaching the furlong pole and getting past the Amy Murphy-trained British filly, Manhattan Jungle, with 100 yards to run, clearing away to score by a length.
“The Antarctic is improving with every race and has become very professional,” O’Brien reported. “This trip suited him well but Ryan thinks that he could go another furlong or two if we wanted him to. We came here with the idea of returning for the Darley Prix Morny [over course and distance on August 21st].”
Given that he has already run six times, and won just three, The Antarctic does not have the profile of your typical Morny winner. But he is less one-dimensional than his famous sibling and would almost certainly give a strong account of himself in a race his handler has not won for over two decades.
A second Irish success on the afternoon was provided by Jessica Harrington’s Trevaunance, who justified the long journey from Co Kildare for a seemingly ambitious tilt at the Group 3 Prix de Psyche Sky Sports Racing with a hard-fought short neck victory in this mile and a quarter event for three-year-old fillies.
Given an uncomplicated ride by Shane Foley, the home-bred daughter of Muhaarar, who sports the renowned black and white Moyglare Stud silks, sat in second place before hitting the front with a furlong to run and holding off the late charge of Mqse de Sevigne.
Representing her mother, Kate Harrington was much less surprised at the result than most punters, who allowed the winner to be sent off as the sixth favourite in a field of seven at over 18/1.
“She didn’t run for nine months simply because she never stopped growing,” Harrington reported. “A mile and a quarter is a bare minimum for her and we won’t see the best of her until next year.”
Ryan Moore sparked a riding double when landing the Prix Six Perfections Sky Sports Racing (a Group 3 juvenile contest run over seven furlongs) for trainer Charlie Hills aboard Sydneyarms Chelsea. An inaugural pattern success for first season sire Sioux Nation, Sydneyarms Chelsea had finished almost three lengths behind Terrestrial over the same track and trip in listed company three weeks earlier. Then he raced keenly but this time he was always in the right place and was able to keep Terrestrial at bay by three-quarters of a length.