Marois target for Taareef after spoiling 'rusty' Al Wukair's return
Jean-Claude Rouget was unable to hide his satisfaction after Taareef defied a penalty and weight-for-age to run out a comfortable winner of the Group 3 Prix Messidor over Maisons-Laffitte's straight mile on Sunday.
Two lengths back, his most immediate pursuer was 2,000 Guineas third Al Wukair, who was making his first start since Newmarket after trainer Andre Fabre had opted to bypass the Prix du Jockey Club.
"He's confirmed the impression of his win last time and has done it giving weight away all round," said Rouget, who has brought Hamdan Al Maktoum's colt along steadily, rounding off his three-year-old campaign with a Group 2 success on Arc weekend.
"He's perhaps benefiting from not being over-raced as a three-year-old and will now go to the Prix Jacques le Marois."
Deputising for the injured Gregory Benoist, Frankie Dettori bided his time with Al Wukair, who once again briefly hit a flat spot before picking up, though he never seriously threatened Taareef.
"He was very rusty and Taareef got first run on me," said Dettori. "Andre Fabre told me this was only a prep race for Al Wukair and he ran like it was."
Speaking for owners Al Shaqab, Harry Herbert indicated Al Wukair would go up in trip to ten furlongs for his next start in the Prix Guillaume d'Ornano, where he is likely to face Brametot in a delayed clash originally due to have taken place in the Jockey Club.
Earlier the roles were reversed, at least for the two trainers, when the Fabre-trained Finche – a Frankel half-brother to 2010 Prince of Wales's Stakes winner Byword – got the better of Rouget-trained Afandem in the Group 2 Prix Eugene Adam.
"He's a big horse, though finely made, and showed today he could be exceptional," said jockey Vincent Cheminaud.
Afandem had got the better of Finche when the pair had met at Compiegne the time before and Rouget refused to be downhearted by this reversal of form.
Rouget said: "I think Afandem can be a good horse and might perhaps benefit from the approach we took with Mekhtaal and Taareef, who we didn’t over-extend at three and who have flourished at four."