Saturdays card has always been the poor relation to Arc Sunday. That has always seemed harsh, as we had some excellent and very informative racing, with 2 Group 1s and 3 Group 2s to wet the appetite. In truth, it also told us a lot about what Sunday would be like, after riding the winner of the opening Prix Chaudenay, Christophe Soumillon reported that this was the softest going he had ever encountered at Paris Longchamp. It was definitely a weekend for soft ground horses who stay, but there were a few who bucked the trends and are worth noting. Here are some eye catching runs I made note of.
For the 2nd year in a row, Skalleti has won the Prix Dollar. In many ways he is underestimated and that is very unfair, his career stats read 11 wins from 14 starts. Over 10 furlongs on soft ground, he is unbeatable and his win at Deauville in the Prix Gontaut-Biron now reads very well, with Sottsass back in 2nd. He had a nightmare trip round on the inside rail on Saturday and Maxime Guyon had to fight for every inch of racing room, but once he hit top stride there was only one winner and to overhaul Patrick Sarsfield, having given him a 2 length head start, was an enormous effort.
The last remaining question mark is whether he can deliver at Group 1 level. In truth, he has never been tried in a Group 1, but connections are reported to be considering a run at Ascot in the Champion Stakes. If the ground remained soft, this could be a perfect opportunity for Skalleti to get that Group 1 on his CV.
Imagine picking up €157,000 with a horse rated 87. Impossible in the UK, but that is what the Crisfords have done with Jadoomi. The Haras de Bouquetot Stakes is one of the most valuable sales races anywhere in the world and credit to everyone associated with French Racing for putting it on, especially in such difficult times.
Now clearly a mark of 87 somewhat flatters the horse, he is much better than that on this evidence as his 7 length demolition job shows. How good he actually is would be open to debate, but he must surely be worth a rating of 100 after Saturday. This shows the value of clever placement, had he run in the UK in a Nursery or Listed race, he might have picked up £10,000 at most, by looking at the wider picture, Connections have picked up 12 times that amount. As the Prize money issues in the UK rumble on, Jadoomi will probably not be the last well placed UK raider to go to France.
Now the Prix Du Cadran story clearly revolves around Princess Zoe. What a credit she is to connections and what a ride by Joey Sheridan. She travelled like a dream and rallied brilliantly to get up in the last few strides. Whether she now goes hurdling or is put away for a Flat staying campaign in 2021, she will be a horse to follow. However, underneath all of that was a magnificent run by Alkuin in 2nd.
Having set a very strong gallop and been as much as 15 lengths clear at one point down the back straight, to have only been beaten 1/2 length is an astonishing run. On the day, the other pace setters finished 5th, 8th, 9th, 9th and 4th, having been beaten 11 lengths, 13 1/2 lengths, 44 lengths, 12 1/2 lengths and 5 lengths. When you consider that he began this season by winning a claiming race in June, this was a massive effort. At the age of 5, he is reaching his prime as a stayer and as we head into next season, he will surely be a force to be reckoned with over the marathon trips on this evidence.
This one I got wrong. At odds of 4/7, having had the best part of a year off the track, I thought it was worth taking on The Revenant. His trainer seemed to imply that he was well, but would come on for the run and as such he seemed worth opposing. I could not have been more wrong.
The simple fact is that The Revenant is a very good horse. He now has 8 wins from 11 starts, with €370,000 in prize money and on soft ground over 1 mile, he is outstanding. His victory on Saturday in the Group 2 Prix Daniel Wildenstein was never in doubt as he travelled strongly and won without any fuss. As long as he comes out of the race OK, the plan is to go to Ascot for the QEII, where he will most likely meet Palace Pier. That is a race to look forwards to.