Saturday 23 September 2017

Reel takes Chantilly second

Highland Reel
Highland Reel

Highland Reel took second for the Aidan O'Brien team as New Bay finished with a flourish to provide Andre Fabre with a fourth victory in the Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly.

The winner, a Khalid Abdullah-owned son of Dubawi, was settled in the rear by French champion jumps jockey Vincent Cheminaud for much of the extended mile-and-a-quarter journey in the race commonly known as the French Derby.

New Bay remained nearer last than first rounding the home turn, but o nce angled wide to challenge he showed thrilling acceleration to run to the lead and was ultimately well on top as he passed the post a length and a half ahead.

Highland Reel was hard driven by Joseph O'Brien to claim the advantage in the straight, but he was immediately tackled by the winner and had no answer, though this was a big improvement on his disappointing run in the French 2000 Guineas.

Of the two other Ballydoyle contenders the Ryan Moore-ridden Cape Clear Island failed to get competitive, while War Envoy was a long way behind in last place.

Alain de Royer-Dupre's much-vaunted Karaktar looked poised to challenge early in the straight, but his run petered out and he was ultimately disappointing, while War Dispatch finished an unlucky-in-running third under Ioritz Mendizabal.

O'Brien said of his trio: "I'm delighted with Highland Reel. He ran a very good race. He progressed well from the last race. I'm very happy with his race.

"He has a lot of options. There is the Irish Derby or the Eclipse. He has all of those races possible. The winner quickened up very well, didn't he?

"Cape Clear Island wants fast ground. War Envoy ran disappointing. Maybe a mile and a quarter is too far."

Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager for the winning owner, said: "He is a relatively inexperienced horse, really. It was very exciting. This is the first French Derby (win) for Prince Khalid since Sanglamore in 1990. We have had some near-misses, with the likes of Famous Name.

"This was a super performance, the way he accelerated, and he showed a great turn of foot to come and win a big race like this.

"I think he has good options, he might even stay the mile and a half. I always think where would we like to end up and then go backwards. The Arc or the great options of Juddmonte at York, the Irish Champion Stakes - there are plenty of very nice options.

"He certainly gets a mile and a quarter and it was soft ground, so would he get the 300 extra metres? We shall see."

On Cheminaud, Grimthorpe added: "Andre called and asked if we would mind having a jumps jockey. He said he was the best. A champion is a champion, he is a champion jockey so why wouldn't he be able to ride on the Flat?"

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