Atomic Force put up another scintillating performance for an all-the-way win in the Group 2 Darley Prix Robert Papin at Chantilly on Sunday.
Kevin Ryan’s hugely-talented juvenile was never headed as he added this prize to last month’s equally impressive course-and-distance victory in the Prix du Bois on his previous trip to France.
Stephane Pasquier again had the son of Cotai Glory out in front from the outset after breaking very well – and although the field briefly closed up mid-race, Atomic Force quickened again to win emphatically by two and a half lengths from outsider Baghed.
A second British challenger, Hellomydarlin, was third for George Boughey.
The winner has changed hands since his first Chantilly victory – from Hambleton Racing to Siu Pak Kwan.
But he remains in Ryan’s North Yorkshire yard, and he said: “He’s a very straightforward horse, has a huge amount of ability, a great temperament, a great mind.
“He has a high cruising speed and he quickens off it. He’s a wonderful horse to deal with.
“He cruises through a race, and he has that good turn of foot, and he’s done it very stylishly again today.”
As a gelding, several high-profile targets cannot be considered – but Atomic Force does hold an entry in next month’s valuable Irish EBF Ballyhane Stakes at Naas.
Ryan is in no rush to make definite plans, however.
“He’s a fantastic horse,” he said.
“From day one, he’s been a lovely horse to deal with, and has identified his ability very early and then just kept improving with it.
“I’m delighted for the (new) connections as well.
“He’s limited as to what he can go for. We’ll let him get home, and I’ll discuss that with his connections at the end of week.
“We won’t make any decisions (just yet), and we’ll do what’s right by the horse.”
Earlier on the card, Victor Ludorum returned to winning form for the first time in six starts, since his success in last year’s French 2000 Guineas at Deauville, easily collaring front-running Brentford Hope in the Group 3 Prix Messidor.
Prix Messidor (Gr3, 1 600m) @fgchantilly ?? 1-3-2-6. Facile succès du bon #VictorLudorum (Shamardal) @godolphin @mickaelbarzalon, qui n’avait pas gagné depuis la #Emirates Poule d’Essai 2020 ! Bonne 2ème place du visiteur #BrentfordHope… pic.twitter.com/WekTi7DvWr— France Galop (@francegalop) July 18, 2021
Mickael Barzalona tracked Richard Hughes’ British contender on Andre Fabre’s charge, before leading two furlongs out and taking the measure of the runner-up – who stayed on well to keep the remainder at bay but was beaten three lengths.
Barzalona told Sky Sports Racing: “That was great. He was a little bit disappointing in his last run (fifth in the Group 1 Prix d’Ispahan at ParisLongchamp).
“He’d come back very well from his first run of the season.
“(But) today it was a nice, regular pace – and I was pretty happy.”
A return to the top level, and a clash with John and Thady Gosden’s top miler Palace Pier, may beckon for Victor Ludorum in the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville next month.
“That might be part of the normal programme for him,” said Barzalona.
“It’s going to be a top race, against Palace Pier, but he deserves to be in it.”
Barzalona and Fabre completed a big-race double when Noticeable Grace took the Group 3 Prix Chloe.
Barzalona again hauled back a long-time leader but only just in time on this occasion, as Noticeable Grace pounced deep in the final furlong to pass Charlie Appleby’s Creative Flair to win by a head.
In a busy finish, Rougir also eventually got the better of Creative Flair to bag second spot by a nose.