Subjectivist put up a fine front-running performance to land the Prix Royal-Oak (French St Leger) at ParisLongchamp and complete a memorable weekend for the Mark Johnston stable.
So tough! Subjectivist makes all under a perfect Joe Fanning ride to win the Prix Royal-Oak at @paris_longchamp!— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) October 25, 2020
A Group 1 double in France this weekend for @Johnston_Racing ?? pic.twitter.com/knx1iRamQ6
The victory was the second leg of a Group 1 double for the Middleham yard after the success of Gear Up in the Criterium de Saint-Cloud 24 hours earlier. Both horses are by Teofilo.
Seventh in the St Leger at Doncaster on his previous start, Subjectivist showed staying was his game when making all the running over just short of two miles in the hands of Joe Fanning.
The son of Teofilo had to dig deep to keep his rivals at bay and was not helped by hanging to the left in the straight, with it later transpiring a front shoe had come loose. It failed to stop him, however, as he kept on stoutly to beat Valia by two lengths.
Holdthasigreen, the winner in 2018, took the third spot he also occupied last year, while Tony Mullins’ Princess Zoe was fourth, never really looking like repeating her victory in the Prix du Cadran of three weeks earlier.
“It was absolutely brilliant and I’m over the moon for everybody involved,” said Charlie Johnston, assistant to his father.
“Plan A had been to go to Ascot for the champions stayers’ (Long Distance Cup), but when we saw Stradivarius and a few others were declared we thought we’d reroute to France – the added bonus being it’s a Group 1. We felt it was going to be a weaker race and it proved to be the right decision.
“The lad who led him up said he was quite fresh in the paddock and Joe said he was quite keen on the way down to the start. I think he benefited from being that bit fresher.
“Having a slightly longer break was good for the horse and also the ground is a real positive for him and a real stamina test over this trip has helped as well.”
He added: “From the middle part of this year we were thinking he’s going to be a Cup horse for next year and hopefully we could have his big brother Sir Ron Priestley back aiming for the same kind of races. That would be nice problem, and not forgetting Nayef Road as well.”
Tony Mullins said of Princess Zoe: "There's not a bother on her. I am disappointed not to win today but very proud of her. I am pretty sure we are not going jumping with her. She will have a complete rest now for a month and maybe start back over a mile and six, or two miles, at the Curragh in April, with a view towards running in the Gold Cup at Ascot and the Goodwood Cup."
An update from France with @tonymullins84. Unlikely to go jumping with Princess Zoe and likely to start her back possibly @curraghrace next year with all the big staying races on the agenda for her. @Darrenfrehill @REDMILLSHorse pic.twitter.com/zdiuA0qlem— Dave Keena (@davekeena1) October 25, 2020
Looking back at yesterday's Group 1 success for Gear Up, Charlie Johnston pointed towards the Derby at Epsom as the colt's main objective in 2021.
“This was a bit of a reroute. After he won the Acomb, the plan was probably to go for the Royal Lodge and then the Vertem Futurity.
“Although we thought we had a genuine excuse in the Royal Lodge, with the way the race had been run and it wasn’t a true test of stamina, it slightly dented our confidence.
“As a result we thought we’d go for the Criterium de Saint-Cloud, which was guaranteed to be more of a test of stamina and a slightly weaker race than Doncaster, although when (Dewhurst runner-up) Wembley got withdrawn (at Doncaster) I was thinking maybe we should be there rather than Paris, but thankfully it all worked out great.
“Gear Up was one of six yearlings we bought for the Teme Valley syndicate, who wanted to buy a horse to go and win the Derby. We’ve got a Group 1-winning two-year-old now and it looks like the Derby is going to be his principal target for the first half of the year.
“When you’ve won a Group 1 at two in many ways the options are few and far between in the first half of the year.
“There’s a lot of water to run under the bridge between now and then, but the obvious plan for him next year would be the Dante, then the Derby.”