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Ascot Champions Day 2020 – And The Success Of French Horses

20 October 2020

In the UK last weekend, Ascot was able to maintain and present their traditional curtain closer to the British season, irrespective of the uniqueness of 2020.

Traditionally, French horses have a good history on British Champions Day and this year that record was maintained with multiple winners. 

The stayers were first up in the G2 British Champions Long distance Cup (3200m) with Stradivarius looking to return to winning ways after a mid-field result in the G1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (2400m) at Paris-Longchamp thirteen days prior.   

To everyone’s surprise, jockey Frankie Dettori was struggling as the field took the home turn with 400m to go. Under pressure and soon weakening, this presented jockey Hollie Doyle the opportunity to add to her record-breaking year with the French bred Trueshan scoring by a comfortable seven and a half lengths. It was his first attempt at Group level and his easiest success to date. It was also a first Group victory for Planteur.   

Planteur has been resident at Haras de Bouquetout however, it was announced in September the sire would be transferred to the UK to stand at Chapel Stud in Worcestershire (UK).    

Hollie Doyle then made it a quickfire double with Glen Shiel in the G1 British Champions Sprint (1200m) and Prix de la Foret heroine – One Master – managed a close-up third, beaten a half-length with Pierre Charles Boudot on board. 

Trainer David Menuisier gained his first British Group One victory with Wonderful Tonight, by French based stallion Le Havre in the G1 British Champions Fillies and Mares (2400m). Winner of the G1 Prix de Royallieu (2800m), the filly was bred in France at Haras La Cauviniere and had previously raced twice in the UK. She has now proven herself to be top class on both sides of the Channel. The G1 Prix Vermeille (2400m) third, Dame Malliot, finished second.    

Following the race, David Menuisier said:    

"Look I am speechless, absolutely speechless. I am so tired, I think I pushed harder than William (Buick) riding the filly!...I am absolutely thrilled. She is a champion. I feel so lucky and blessed. We bought her at the sales as a yearling for next to nothing and here she is winning her second G1 in two weeks.”   

"We know that she is very good. The only question mark was whether she had recuperated from the Arc weekend or not. I hadn't, but I am glad she did!   

Over the years’ there has been previous French success in the G1 Queen Elizabeth II stakes (1600m) and this continued with The Revenant going one better than he did in 2019. At Longchamp over Arc weekend, he won his second G2 Prix Daniel Wildenstein (1600m).  

Jockey Pierre-Charles Boudot said: 

"Today I was very confident with his trainer, and the horse did it well on the track….he loved the ground, and the trip has been perfect behind Circus Maximus. My horse was very relaxed behind and when I asked him, he gave me a nice long turn of foot. He was courageous in the last furlong.”   

"[He is a] super tough horse. His preparation has been good in the Daniel Wildenstein. He is courageous, he's just good."   

The feature event, the G1 Champion Stakes (2000m) did not disappoint. Globe-trotter Addeybb reversed the form with Magical (third this year) and powered away under Tom Marquand.   

The French representative, Skalleti, produced another great effort in defeat, beaten only two and a quarter lengths in second. He was given every chance with Pierre Charles Boudot onboard the G2 Prix Dollar (2000m) winner. Winner of twelve of his sixteen race-starts, Skaletti had previously only raced once outside of France but his performance in the G1 British Champion Stakes (2000m) proved his class on an international stage. 

Picture: © APHR