Signs Of Blessing (nose band) heading to victory in the Maurice de GheestPICTURE: www.scoopdyga.com
Blessing wins dramatic
Prix Maurice de Gheest
Report: France, Sunday
Deauville: Larc Prix Maurice de Gheest (Group 1), 6½f, 3yo+
SIGNS OF BLESSING made all to win an incident-packed Prix Maurice de Gheest, in which Hong Kong raider and favourite Gold-Fun was a fatal faller inside the last furlong.
A close third in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes behind Twilight Son, Signs Of Blessing returned victorious to claim his first Group 1 win, and a first French winner of this contest since 2013.
The drama began before the race was off, as the three horses drawn widest broke the stalls early after Jimmy Two Times reared, triggering the gates to release.
A delay ensued after the runners were reloaded, but once finally getting underway, the Francois Rohaut-trained Signs Of Blessing set a stern pace and never saw another rival, holding on for the win from the fast finishing Richard Fahey-trained Donjuan Triumphant in second, with Jimmy Two Times third.
Dutch Connection, the highly fancied winner of the Lennox Stakes, could only finish fifth for Godolphin and Charles Hills.
Rohaut said the decision to geld the five-year-old last year had reaped rewards. "This horse has always shown a huge amount of promise and I am delighted he has been able to make good on it today," he said. "Things didn't go well last year but this proves we made the right decision to geld him.
"He will have a break and then go back to Ascot. If all goes well he could go to Hong Kong after that."
The race was marred by a nasty fall for Diamond Jubilee Stakes runner up, Gold-Fun, who had to be put down.
The Richard Gibson-trained seven-year-old hit the turf as jockey Christophe Soumillon was launching his challenge. Soumillon walked away from the fall but did not ride in the next race.
Following the win Sign Of Blessings was cut to as short as 12-1 for the Qipco Champions Sprint Stakes at Ascot, with SkyBet a best priced 16-1.
Also on Sunday
Deauville: Prix de Reux (Group 3) 1m4½f, 3yo+
Ventura Storm completed a successful trip to France for owners Middleham Park Racing as he claimed victory in this race to go alongside the second their Donjuan Triumphant nabbed in the Prix Maurice de Gheest.
The three-year-old son of Zoffany was a convincing winner of the Group 3 contest as, drawn in six, he tracked the leaders wide before asserting his authority to return victorious at 4-1.
St Leger bound
Trained by Richard Hannon and ridden by Gregory Benoist, Ventura Storm won a listed contest at Hamilton before coming to France, and stepped up a furlong-and-a-half in trip for this contest.
Sarah Davey, representative of owners Middleham Park Racing, said "The key to him is the step up in trip and he was pricking his ears going away at the end.
"Now the entries in the English and German St Legers make sense. We will certainly be tempted by Doncaster. He needs to be ridden positively and Gregory gave him a great ride."