Vazirabad (left) pictured beating Big Orange in the Dubai Gold CupPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Vazirabad justifies favouritism in Royal-Oak
Report: France, Sunday
Saint-Cloud: Prix Royal-Oak (Group 1) 1m7f110y, turf, 3yo+
VAZIRABAD (Alain de Royer-Dupre/Christophe Soumillon) gained his second win at the highest level when fending off a determined challenge from Charlie Appleby's Endless Time to retain his Royal-Oak crown.
The Aga Khan's stayer had been a beaten favourite in the Prix du Cadran on his most recent outing, when he finished a close-up second to Quest For More, but he was not to be denied on this occasion.
Trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre had been left mystified by Vazirabad's errant course in the closing stages at Chantilly but the gelded son of Manduro kept straight here under a confident Christophe Soumillon and was a length and three quarters to the good at the line, while Arc fourth Siljan's Saga ran on to snatch third.
"He can sometimes set his jaw like that and he then always drifts towards the rail, whether he is running left or right-handed," said Royer-Dupre. "We tested him from top to bottom after the Cadran and everything came back perfectly so we knew he wasn't feeling anything."
Endless Time was only beaten half a length in the Prix Vermeille over a 1m4f last time and pushed Vazirabad all the way to the line on this first attempt at an extended trip.
William Buick said: "She ran great. The winner is obviously classy in that grade against those stayers but she has run a gallant second."
Also on Sunday
Saint-Cloud: Prix de Flore (Group 3) 1m2½f, 3yo+ fillies & mares
Soumillon instigated a Group race double after Loving Things rewarded the patience of both trainer Luca Cumani and owner/breeder Philippa Cooper when coming out on top half an hour earlier.
The daughter of Pivotal earned her Listed stripes when scoring in the Pontefract Castle Stakes back in June but had found little joy on rattling summer ground and had been waited with since finishing down the field in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks in August.
"I'm pleased for the filly as she has done nothing but improve all year," said Cumani. "Unfortunately we had a long dry summer and she doesn't like firm ground. We were delighted to hear the ground was good or slightly softer."