SUNDAY brought Deauville’s month-long summer meeting to a low-key close with the feature Group 2 Lucien Barriere Grand Prix de Deauville won by a horse, Botanik, who was gelded before he even reached a racecourse and hence is ineligible for the obvious follow-up, the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
The result did at least mean that, for once over the past four weeks, the home team had managed to stave off an overseas bid to hold on to one of its major prizes. For, in terms of potential subsequent Arc runners, this extended one-and-a-half-mile contest was all about Stay Foolish, one of four intended Japanese-trained starters in that Paris showpiece.
A winner of mega-money races over one mile and seven furlongs and two miles in Saudi Arabia and Dubai in February and March, Stay Foolish was always going to need this to be a proper test of stamina to give him a chance of coming out on top, so his jockey, Cristian Demuro, did the sensible thing and set a strong pace from flag fall.
These tactics saw three of his four opponents so far adrift with two furlongs to run that victory was nigh on impossible. But the one rival Stay Foolish was never able to shake off was Botanik, and though the Far Eastern challenger proved a tough adversary to pass, Mickael Barzalona never panicked aboard the pursuer and, after a good battle, had drawn a length and a quarter ahead at the line.
A representative of trainer André Fabre and owner-breeders Godolphin, Botanik ended his two-year-old season with a narrow reverse in the Group 1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud. Injury then forced him to miss almost the first nine months of his classic season, and Fabre has taken things very steadily in the 23 months since that return, not allowing him to race in stakes company as he prevailed in four of his next six starts.
The Group 3 Prix de Reux, over the same course and distance as the Grand Prix on August 7th, was his pattern breakthrough and Sunday’s triumph not only marked a best result yet for his sire, Golden Horn, it also took Botanik’s own record to an impressive seven wins and two seconds from 12 career starts.
“Botanik has really begun to fulfil his potential this year and I think that he won with a bit in hand,” Barzalona said. “The team will come up with a plan about where he goes next but I am pretty sure he will be sent on his travels.”
Yukihiko Araki, assistant to Yoshito Yahagi, trainer of Stay Foolish, said: “We are far from downhearted despite getting beaten. He has only been in France for two weeks and this was nothing more than a prep race – he should progress before the Arc.”
BOTANIK’s performance may have recovered a sliver of nation pride but the overriding theme of the meeting continued 35 minutes later when the two British hopes, Tempus and Internationalangel, proved way too strong for four domestic representatives in the Group 3 Barriere Prix Quincey over a straight mile.
A Kingman half-brother to the dual Group 2 scorer Time Test, formerly trained by Roger Charlton, Tempus was purchased for 25,000 guineas at the end of last year by owners Hambleton Racing who sent him to Archie Watson’s yard and arranged for him to be gelded.
His improvement since has been relentless - this one-and-three-quarter-length success over his fellow raider made it three straight wins (including two in pattern company) since he finished third in the Royal Hunt Cup at Ascot in June. The Queen Elizabeth II Stakes back at Ascot in October is his end-of-season target.
Memories of better times were rekindled in the day’s other Group 3, the six-furlong Barriere Prix de Meautry, thanks to a neck victory for Bouttemont. Back in April, this four-year-old Irish-bred son of Acclamation had struck a blow for the Tricolore when his Deauville handler, Yann Barberot, sent him over to England to win the £136,000 All-Weather Sprint Championship at Newcastle.
The day’s solitary Irish visitor was J J Jumbo in a €35,000 conditions race over six and a half furlongs. In first-time blinkers, Darren Bunyan’s Champs Elysees colt again proved his love of all-weather surfaces to take second place, making the running until the furlong pole and only missing out on top spot by three-quarters of a length.