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Ireland Dominant At Longchamp

14 September 2020

Face Time Bourbon enhanced his reputation as an exceptional horse winning the G1 Prix de l’Etoile (2200m) at Vincennes on Saturday recording a new race record of 1’09”4.   

He conceded his three-year-old younger rivals 50m and from the start continued to make ground, moving to the lead at the 750m mark and from the top of the straight he accelerated clear to win easily. The victory gave Face Time Bourbon his eleventh Group One race.    

The G1 Prix de Normandie (3000m) is a mounted contest for five-year-olds. The top three in the market on the PMU finished in the placings, however, it was Flamme du Goutier who was given a perfect ride by Antoine Wiels to win the race. This was the first time the mare had been in a mounted contest and immediately took to the discipline. She is starting to come of age. At her previous start in the G1 Criterium des 5ans (3000m) she finished third at odds greater than 140/1 and followed up with this victory. For Antoine Wiels, this was his first victory in a Group One contest. The Prix des Élites in two weeks will be her next contest.      

It is of special note that from both events this weekend Ready Cash was the sire of the two Group One winners.    

The traditional ‘Arc Trial’ meeting took place at Longchamp on Sunday with three final ‘prep’ races conducted prior to the big event held in three weeks’ time. There were also Arc chances racing in Ireland at the weekend.    

Following the running of these races it has emerged that the two key chances for the big race now appear to be Love and Enable – both of whom did not race at the weekend. During the course of the weekend some Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe contenders disappointed.   

The G2 Prix Niel (2400m) for the three-years-olds is normally run on this programme however this year the event was replaced by the re-programmed G1 Grand Prix de Paris (2400m). This turned into a fascinating contest with the progressive Mogul given a first-class ride from jockey Pierre-Charles Boudot and finding success.    

Now living up to the early promise shown as a two-year-old he is trained in Ireland for Coolmore by Aidan O’Brien and comes into Arc calculations. At the weekend he won clearly and comfortably by 2½L from the German Derby winner In Swoop who stayed on well. Three-year-old colts have the best record of any age and sex in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.   

Of the main fancied runners for the Arc there were disappointments, notably the favourite and stablemate to the winner Serpentine (fourth) and Port Guillaume (last).   

The fillies and mares (only three-and-four-year-old fillies accepted this year) contested the G1 Prix Vermeille (2400m) and a potential superstar was unearthed with Tarnawa the decisive victor. Raced by HH The Aga Khan, however trained in Ireland by Dermot Weld, the four-year-old ran out an easy victor defeating Raabihah by 3L. Whilst not nominated for the Arc, connections have indicated they will consider supplementing her. At present either the G1 Prix de l’Opera (2000m) on Arc day or G1 Fillies & Mares Championship (2400m) at Ascot (UK) will be her target races.    

For the older horses, the G2 Prix Foy (2400m) was held and a small, but elite, field of six came under starters orders. Anthony Van Dyck won and gave Coolmore and trainer Aidan O’Brien a double on the card. Ridden by Mickaël Barzalona this was the horses’ first victory since winning the G1 Epsom Derby (2400m) in June 2019. Second was the favourite Stradivarius beaten a neck with the remaining four runners not too far behind. All horses had their chances – although both Way To Paris and Nagano Gold were slowly away – and few excuses could be offered.     

In Ireland both Sottsass and Ghayiyath competed in the G1 Irish Championship Stakes (2000m) and were beaten. There appeared to be few excuses for both horses. The race was won by Magical for the second successive year and now comes into calculations for the Arc.