Godolphin's Victor Ludorum stamps authority with French 2,000 Guineas success
Pinatubo has yet to face his Classic date with destiny but all those connected with Godolphin now know they already possess a colt of exceptional quality, after Victor Ludorum blew away his rivals with an emphatic display in the Poule d'Essai des Poulains.
Only a laboured third on his return to action at Longchamp three weeks ago, Victor Ludorum looked transformed as he motored into contention under a motionless Mickael Barzalona before coasting to victory by a length and a half over his Prix de Fontainebleau conqueror The Summit.
That transformation is testament to his trainer Andre Fabre, who was winning the colts' Classic for an eighth time but who measures success in terms of weeks, not decades.
Over Deauville's dragstrip straight mile and on ground a world away from the soft terrain of his comeback run, the strapping son of Shamardal looked a colt with the world at his feet, while Barzalona's whoop of delight as he crossed the line conveyed every bit as much as his post-race comments.
"He's a powerful horse and today he showed his comeback run did him the world of good," said Barzalona. "I was able to ride him the way I did at two. I didn't really drop him out, I just rode him for himself.
"He can be a little bit difficult during the preliminaries but he is so straightforward in a race. We went a good even pace and he was just in his racing bubble. He got there gradually and I never had to get serious."
Summing up Victor Ludorum's abundant qualities, Barzalona said: "He never wins by far but he was well on top. He has ease, he has the action. And he knows exactly how to press the accelerator!"
Fabre has made no secret of his belief that Victor Ludorum is made for the Prix du Jockey Club and Coral trimmed him to 4-1 favourite for Chantilly, ahead of stablemate Ocean Atlantique at 5-1 and Pao Alto at 6-1.
BoyleSports were more impressed and are just 2-1 about Victor Ludorum completing the same Classic double as his sire, while the firm went 14-1 (from 33) for the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.
Whether the acceleration shown by the winner prompts a rethink for Fabre and Sheikh Mohammed remains to be seen, with Pinatubo still to emerge on the other side of the English Channel, while stablemate Earthlight has been pencilled in for a return to action in the Prix Jean Prat over seven furlongs.
"He showed a real streak of class," said Godolphin's Lisa-Jane Graffard. "This is the result of a great team effort and a lot of people [connected with the horse] will have been quite emotional in front of their television screens.
"Before the race the plan was always the Prix du Jockey Club. That said, he showed a lot of class over a mile today. There will be no rush to decide and we'll see how he comes out of it. Andre Fabre will then discuss it with Sheikh Mohammed."
Despite the decisive turnaround in the Prix de Fontainebleau form, there was no shame in The Summit's second-placed effort, although trainer Alex Pantall might be keener than most to see the winner step up in trip.
"I'm fractionally disappointed but also very pleased," said Pantall. "He ran very well and he proved that he didn't win last time by jockey tactics alone. A lot of people put it down to PC [Pierre-Charles Boudot] but he showed again that he has a lot of quality.
"He was very courageous because there was a moment 300 metres down when I was a little worried but he ran all the way to the line. It may be the prep race for the Prix du Jockey Club but I think he might struggle to stay further."
Victor Ludorum's stablemate Alson produced a fine effort in third on his first start for Fabre while, just 40 minutes before trainer Frederic Rossi was to land his first Classic, the stable's Kenway ran a creditable fifth.
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