Zhukova shines for Weld as she takes Belmont by storm
Dermot Weld enhanced his superb record on the international stage in America on Saturday night when Zhukova stormed to victory in the Man o' War Stakes at Belmont Park.
Rain left conditions on the soft side, in which the mare found herself well at home, and her task was made easier as three local runners were taken out on account of the ground.
That meant Zhukova had just four to beat and punters took note, backing her into favourite. After tracking the front-running Charming Kitten, which had two runs for Weld last season, the Curragh raider burst clear to beat Taghleeb by six lengths under John Velazquez.
"We're absolutely over the moon with that," Weld's son and assistant Mark said afterwards.
"It was a major target over the last few weeks. The rain came, which was a huge help.
"Johnny was very complimentary about her. He said she could have a future here. She'll come home now, but the (Breeders' Cup) Filly & Mare Turf would be a definite possibility to finish off the year.
"She's a true European Grade One mare. We've known she's a good mare for a little while. You don't beat the Breeders' Cup winner Found very easily, and she beat her pretty handily (in the 2016 Alleged Stakes). She's a homebred, we've had her since she was a foal bred by my grandmother. This is huge for us today. We have a lot to look forward to."
In Deauville, Aidan O'Brien had no joy in the French 2,000 Guineas as his Orderofthegarter finished fifth - beaten by over nine lengths - to Jean-Claude Rouget's Brametot, which got up close home under Cristian Demuro to collar Le Brivido.
The Frankie Dettori-ridden Rivet ran a fine race in third for Newmarket trainer William Haggas, who had sent out Sea Of Grace to be second in Saturday's French 1,000 Guineas.
There was English success on the card as the Charlie Appleby-trained Sobetsu ran out a ready winner of The Gurkha Coolmore Prix Saint-Alary, a Group One contest over 10 furlongs.