Flintshire (left): powered clear under a brilliant ride from Maxime GuyonPICTURE: Scoop/Dyga
Flashy Flintshire lands Grand Prix de Paris
Report: France, Saturday
Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris (Group 1) 1m4f, 3yo colts & fillies
THE SIGNATURE of seven-time winner Andre Fabre looks ever more likely to be inscribed on this season's Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, after Flintshire joined stablemate Intello at the head of most books for the race following a hugely impressive display.
While connections of Al Kazeem and Orfevre will be hoping to have a say in the great autumn prize's final destination, Flintshire burst into the Arc reckoning under an ecstatic Maxime Guyon, who eased the son of Dansili down well before crossing the line a length and a half clear of Manndawi.
Epsom Derby fifth Ocovango completed a very satisfactory result for Fabre a length back in third, while Battle Of Marengo was unable to get competitive under Joseph O'Brien, finishing seventh of the eight runners.
Widely available at 16-1 before yesterday's race, Flintshire was trading at a best priced 7-1 with Hills and Bet365 last night.
Ladbrokes were far more impressed, cutting the Juddmonte homebred to 5-1 clear favourite, while Paddy Power have him at the same price alongside last year's runner-up Orfevre.
Given the master trainer's preferred modus operandi there was perhaps little suprise in Fabre's reaction.
"He has great acceleration and is a very exciting horse," said Fabre, who was winning this historic prize for a twelfth time. "In principle he'll be back here in September to run in the Prix Niel as a prep for the Arc."
The Niel has acted as a springboard for all but one of Fabre's previous Arc winners and, while near-neighbour Intello could provide potent opposition if given the go ahead, the Wertheimer's Jockey Club hero must first pass through the fire of a potentially sizzling Prix Jacques le Marois over a mile at Deauville, a race which could also feature Dawn Approach and Toronado.
Speaking on behalf of owner Khalid Abdullah, racing manager Teddy Grimthorpe was as impressed as most other observers with the way Flintshire put the race to bed half way up the Longchamp straight.
"He did it off quite a slow pace and that was the really good thing," said Grimthorpe. "He's learning and he had to mix it a little at the beginning but the way he's quickened is the most important thing."
Manndawi certainly stepped forward on his previous efforts, notably when fourth to Flintshire at Chantilly last time.
While the Aga Khan's near-white colt may have been flattered by the margin of defeat, jockey Christophe Lemaire was positive enough about Manndawi's future prospects.
He said: "On softer ground I think he'd be a little more explosive. Today he was beaten by a very good horse who loves good ground. In any case he was courageous and I think we'll have a very good horse for the autumn."
The prospect of soft ground in October would be the main issue to temper enthusiasm in the winning camp but Beckett wasn't ready to accept the colt needed a sound surface to prosper.
"He didn't run so well here on his second start when he was beaten and it was very soft that day," he confessed. "At Chantilly it was very good and it's fast ground today but of course he's a more mature horse now."
Ocovango did his best to uphold the now rather battered-looking Epsom form.
Fabre reported: "He ran well but he was a little caught for speed. He would have preferred slightly softer ground and a faster pace."
But Battle Of Marengo, who finished half a length in front of Ocovango in the Derby, appeared to resent the waiting tactics employed and was unable to pick up off the slow pace.
"He was just a little keen in the blinkers," admitted Aidan O'Brien. "He'll have a break now and after that we'll see."