Johnston's high hopes for on-song Jukebox
Mark Johnston made up for a dismal Ebor meeting at York when saddling the hardy stayer Jukebox Jury to win yesterday's Darley Prix Kergolay at Deauville yesterday.
The Middleham trainer is hoping the victory will provide a launch pad to an international campaign that will take in major races in Ireland, Canada, Japan and Hong Kong.
Johnston, usually a prolific supplier of winners at major festivals, sent out 13 runners over the four days at York, yet failed to get even one in the first four placings.
Fox Hunt, which finished sixth in the Betfred Ebor after being stopped in his tracks in the final furlong, performed arguably the best of his team, but generally the meeting was a huge disappointment.
It was all so different on the Normandy coast as Jukebox Jury bounced out of the starting gates, crossed to the inside rail, and then proceeded to dictate matters under Neil Callan for the rest of the 15-furlong trip.
Sent off at 9/1 on the French Pari-Mutuel, the grey son of Montjeu came home well clear of veteran Kasbah Bliss, with the Andre Fabre-trained Brigantin a close third, inches ahead of the Luca Cumani-trained Manighar.
Johnston said: "He stayed the trip very well. There are now heaps of options, but we'll be wanting to go the Group One route."
The Irish St Leger at The Curragh has been mentioned, but there is also the Prix du Cadran at Longchamp for connections to consider and then there are the races for which overseas racing bodies pay handsome subsidies to attract foreign runners, namely the Canadian International, the Japan Cup and the Hong Kong Vase.
Last year's Melbourne Cup winner, Americain, which was having his final outing prior to entering quarantine before another trip to Australia, stumbled badly at the start and then stayed on in the home straight to finish a creditable 10th.
Frankie Dettori landed the Prix Morny aboard the impressive Dabirsim, with Frederick Engels only fifth of seven.
Trainer David Brown reported that the colt had given a cough at the start and would be scoped.
Owner Khalid Abdulla completed another Group One race one-two, to add to his Juddmonte Stakes success, in the Prix Jean Romanet with Andre Fabre's Announce and the Henry Cecil-trained Timepiece.
As at York on Wednesday, it was Tom Queally who came off second best -- this time overhauled late on Timepiece by Announce, ridden by Maxime Guyon. Henry Cecil felt that Timepiece might have been in front too soon, but Queally had certainly seemed to do the right thing in taking charge of an absurdly cautious pace in the straight. There was only a short head in it, and Abdulla will have had no complaints with the result, as the runner-up already had a Group One success to her name.
•Barry Hills brought the curtain down on a fantastic training career when winning a race at his beloved Chester with his final runner on the Roodee, and then ended the day by winning with his last ever runner, One Lucky Lady at Bath.