Hard Dream sets sail at damp Longchamp
Report: France, Monday
Longchamp: Prix Noailles (Group 2) 1m2½f, 3yo colts & fillies
HARD DREAM (Francois Rohaut/Stephane Pasquier) made light of atrocious conditions to earn a place in the Prix du Jockey Club in six weeks' time.
Along with Tifongo, the son of Oasis Dream helped dictate an extremely sedate pace in ground bordering on heavy, and when the two leaders settled down to fight out the finish none of their four rivals was able to land a serious blow.
Owner Tony Ford is now in the happy position of having a French Derby prospect to go alongside his Poule d'Essai des Pouliches hopeful Lily America.
Rohaut was reaping the rewards for paddling in much shallower waters in the South West until as Hard Dream made it three wins from four starts, getting on top in the final hundred yards to score by a length and a half.
"It was a gamble to put him in a hot race like this, but we hoped not too much of one," said Rohaut. "I hope he can continue to progress, and I think he'll be better on better ground."
Hard Dream will now head straight for the Jockey Club, but that whether the runner-up Tifongo joins him is not so sure.
"He's run very well, but that might have been just beyond his limit," said trainer Henri-Alex Pantall. "He has very good acceleration, and he didn't quite get home over the trip."
The big question mark after the race was the run of Prix de Conde winner Loi, who was last turning in, before making only modest inroads on the leaders to finish fourth.
Olivier Peslier felt the Lawman colt may have underperformed. "He didn't have his usual action," he said.
However, trainer Jean-Marie Beguigne was far from downhearted after Loi's return to action.
"The race didn't play to his strengths and although the others weren't of his quality, he needs better ground and a more honest pace," said Beguigne.
"It wasn't his main objective, which isn't for another six weeks. He hasn't had a hard race so he'll run in the Prix Hocquart, with the idea that he still gets to the Jockey Club a fresh horse. But he'll need to win the Hocquart to prove he's up to that level."