IT was an unusually disappointing day for Andre Fabre at Saint-Cloud last Sunday, as the 31-time champion trainer saddled the hot favourites for the two Group 2 features but saw them both turned over, albeit in very different circumstances.
Agave, a daughter of Dubawi sporting the Juddmonte silks, was the buzz horse of the afternoon, as she took on the colts for the first time in the €130,000 Prix Greffulhe over an extended mile and a quarter, bidding to stretch her unbeaten sequence to four and cement her place in the Epsom Oaks line-up.
Sent off at odds of 4/5, everything seemed to be going to plan as she surged into the lead under a hands and heels ride from Olivier Peslier approaching the furlong pole. Then, all of a sudden, the wheels came off, allowing Onesto, who had come from last place in the field of six, to swoop past and score by an ever-widening two and a half lengths.
Bred in Ireland but purchased in America at the Ocala Breeze-Up Sale for $530,000, Onesto could finish no better than 10th behind Welwal in the Group 3 Prix de Fontainebleau on his 2022 debut. He had clearly come on a lot for that run and, as trainer Fabrice Chappet underlined afterwards, was much better suited to this longer trip.
“He’s by Frankel out of a Sea The Stars mare with Kahyasi also in his pedigree so middle distances were always going to be his thing,” Chappet said. “He started off over a mile last season so that was going to be too sharp for him in the Fontainebleau and this should put him spot on for the Prix du Jockey-Club.”
While it was hard to find excuses for Agave, the Fabre-trained Duhail, who was returned the 11/10 market leader in the Prix du Muguet for older milers, failed to find running room in the home straight until the race was all over, so his fourth place can be upgraded.
This time the only female in the field did prevail as Sibila Spain, so often a tearaway front-runner in the past, responded positively to being dropped out last of the six runners and finished strongly to catch Dilawar right on the line.
Winning trainer Christopher Head, son of Freddy and nephew of Criquette, was notching the first pattern race triumph of his career. He said: “The only time that she was ridden from behind was in the Prix Saint-Alary and we learned nothing that day as she was fiendishly unlucky, so it was worth another go.
“Now that it has proved successful her owners can look forward to the rest of the year, probably starting with the Duke Of Cambridge Stakes at Royal Ascot.”
Trainer Francis Graffard was delighted with Dilawar’s second and said: “I was ready for him to be beaten as I hadn’t done much with him at home so it was an excellent comeback.
“He’s a gelding who likes fast ground and there is a good chance that we will go abroad with him.”
Churchill double at Chantilly
AT Chantilly on Tuesday, Jean-Claude Rouget strengthened his already powerful hand for the Prix du Jockey-Club when Vadeni, only fifth under a tender ride behind stablemate Welwal in the Fontainebleau on his reappearance, scored a smooth two-and-a-half-length victory in the Group 3 Prix de Guiche over nine furlongs.
The son of Churchill was assisted by his pacemaker, Kotari, setting a decent but not frantic gallop, allowing Rouget to admit afterwards: “I was happy from the word go. Once I saw that Vadeni was relaxed, I knew that he would be able to quicken.
“I love this race. I used it as a stepping stone to the Jockey Club with Almanzor [in 2016] and I think that it represents a perfect preparation for that classic.”
Coolmore sire Churchill had another notable winner on the Chantilly card when the three-year-old filly La Gloire ran out a smooth winner of a nine-furlong maiden.
Trained by André Fabre for Godolphin, La Gloire is out of the George Washington mare Date With Destiny. She was bred by Newsells Park Stud and sold to Godolphin for 350,000gns as a yearling at Tattersalls.