Blue Descends

The prospects of a Maktoum representative lifting Sunday’s G1 Prix de Moulin de Longchamp–which again is staged at Chantilly–are very strong and it could be Sheikh Mohammed’s royal blue which is predominant as Ribchester (Ire) (Iffraaj {GB}) bids to put his G1 Sussex S. reversal behind him. Previously, the season’s leading miler had won the G1 Lockinge S. at Newbury May 20 and G1 Queen Anne S. at Royal Ascot a month later without appearing to try his hardest and his subsequent second in the rain-afflicted renewal of the Sussex at Glorious Goodwood Aug. 2 can be forgiven. Also successful in last year’s G1 Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville, the pride of the Richard Fahey yard is ready to resume his winning sequence. “We have been very happy with Ribchester since Goodwood, when things just didn’t work out for him,” his trainer commented. “I thought he probably had a hard race at Goodwood, but he’s come out of the Sussex so well physically. The ground won’t be a problem–it is currently soft, and it could get softer. Everything has gone well with his preparation and I was very pleased his last piece of work on Monday. He is absolutely bouncing and we expect him to run very well.”

If Ribchester falters again, fellow Godolphin runner Inns of Court (Ire) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}) could take advantage as he looks a typical Andre Fabre improver and proved he is well up to this standard last time when a short-head second to Al Wukair (Ire) (Dream Ahead) in the G1 Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville Aug. 13. That was his first try over this trip, having captured the seven-furlong G3 Prix du Palais-Royal at Maisons-Laffitte June 3 and G3 Prix de la Porte Maillot also at Deauville July 1. Godolphin’s Lisa-Jane Graffard said, “Inns of Court produced a very good performance in the Jacques le Marois and has been in great form lately. This is a different test for him and he is coming up against some very good horses, but we are hoping that he can run another good race in Group 1 company.” Fabre, who intriguingly also saddles Gestut Ammerland’s ‘TDN Rising Star’ and Aug. 15 G3 Prix de Lieurey winner Lady Frankel (GB) (Frankel {GB}), added, “Inns of Court ran a very good race in the Marois and I think he should repeat that performance. If he does, he should run a big race. Lady Frankel is a Group 3 winner, so there are not many options. She has a great turn of foot and I hope she will run well.”

Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s silks are sported by two who have suggested they can win at this level in the Jean-Claude Rouget-trained 4-year-old Taareef (Kitten’s Joy) and the Aug. 19 G2 Hungerford S. scorer Massaat (Ire) (Teofilo {Ire}) who represents the Owen Burrows stable. The latter trainer commented, “We’ve been very happy with him since Newbury. I thought he’d run well in the Hungerford, as he’d been working well at home. I just felt he might be a bit rusty. I think that run has put the edge back on him and they’re forecast a nice drop of rain, so it looks as though the ground will be suitable. We’ll have a better idea of where we stand after the weekend.”

Taareef’s winning run in pattern races was halted when he was a close-up fifth in the Prix Jacques le Marois and Shadwell’s racing manager Angus Gold is hoping tactics play out better for him this time. “I thought they went a stupid pace in the Jacques le Marois. They went no pace and sprinted, which was never going to suit a horse who has bowled along before and has been happy doing so,” he explained. “Hopefully we’ll make a bit more use of him this time.”

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