French racing’s new star Ace Impact maintained his unbeaten record in the Prix Guillaume d’Ornano at Deauville.
Jean-Claude Rouget’s three-year-old grabbed the headlines when displaying an electrifying turn of foot in the Prix de Jockey Club in June, coming from a long way back to beat Big Rock.
Off the track for 72 days, Ace Impact was very keen in the early stages under Cristian Demuro before dropping in at the rear of the field, with only had one behind him for much of the race as stablemate Cambronne set the pace.
Aidan O’Brien had two runners in Breeders’ Cup winner Victoria Road and Greenland, while his son Joseph fielded Al Riffa, a Group One winner as a juvenile last season.
They mounted a stern challenge and had their chances, but Ace Impact made up plenty of ground in the straight and grabbed the lead in sight of the post.
However, he had to battle with Al Riffa, who finished three-quarters of a length adrift in second, with Birr Castle a further head back in third and Greenland coming home fourth.
Paddy Power left the winner unchanged as their 7-2 favourite for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, however, Coral eased him slightly to 9-2 from 4-1.
“We will have to discuss his future with the partners (Gousserie Racing and Ecuries Serge Stempniak) – either he will have another race before the Arc or go straight to the big one,” Rouget told www.thoroughbreddailynews.com.
“We will have less pressure on than we did today, as these races are very difficult to call beforehand. There is a lot at stake with a horse that is an undefeated, brilliant winner of the Prix du Jockey Club and who has been partly sold since.
“You don’t want to lose, you don’t know if the horse still wants to fight, if the race will be tactical, if he is ready enough knowing very well that he is not 100 per cent because that’s how I do things.
“You could see early in the race that he was keen, because he is fresh, but once the race went into a good rhythm, he relaxed.
“He showed the same acceleration and just idled a bit at the end, as he needed the race. It is a big relief for all the reasons I mentioned.”