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Friday, 16 November, 2018

Nonza swoops in Prix Jean Romanet to deny Urban Fox and put Devin in dreamland

Nonza and Alexis Badel wins the Darley Prix Jean Romanet
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Among the ranks of jockeys and trainers in France the names Alexis Badel and Henri-Francois Devin have been talked of for some time as Group 1 winners-in-waiting.

For both men the wait is over as Nonza came from well back to overhaul Urban Fox and James Doyle, sparking emotional scenes in the tight Deauville winner's enclosure. 

A homebred product of the Devin family's Haras du Mesnil, Nonza started her run out wide and, from a furlong down, always looked to be getting there. 

Navaro Girl came from a similarly long way back to take third but the Aidan O'Brien-trained Rhododendron was eased right down by Ryan Moore after appearing to be struck into early in the straight.

Nonza had been climbing the ladder gradually of late but had won only a Listed race before this, on her previous start. 

"She's very progressive and has improved with time, as a lot of the family can," said Devin, who missed the presentation as he rushed off to saddle a runner in the following Prix de Pomone. 

"The thing about her is that you can't really rush her. She has a fantastic morning rider, Marcos Santos, who has ridden her for quite some time and gets on very well with her. Full credit to him, he's done an incredible job."

Alexis Badel celebrates winning the Prix Jean Romanet on Nonza

Devin praises his number one Badel

Devin took out his training licence only in 2013 but has quickly made a name for himself.

But he reserved his warmest praise for Badel - the son of former jockey Alain and trainer Myriam Bollack - who has been an ally of the yard ever since finishing second aboard Physiocrate in the 2015 Prix de Diane. 

"Alexis is a fantastic jockey and I'm so happy for him," said Devin. "He's been riding for so long and it seems amazing to me that this is his first Group 1 win. See what he achieved in such a short time in Hong Kong. If he'd stayed he would be one of the top guys."

Haggas may look overseas with Fox

Urban Fox now has Group 1 figures of 122 since joining William Haggas, who found nothing to reproach in her performance. 

"James just felt she was there plenty soon enough, but he had to go when he went," said Haggas. 

"He's just got done close home but she's run a very solid race again. I think this is her trip, and faster ground - James said the ground felt a bit dead on her - would suit her better.

"I'll be definitely be looking abroad with her. We've got to make a plan, both short term and long term."

Favourite Bateel did not pick up quite as expected in the straight under Olivier Peslier and was well held in fifth. 

Trainer Francis Graffard said: "She didn't really breathe properly during the race and the ground has gone a bit quick for her on what was her first run since May."


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The four-year-old started her run out wide on the Deauville straight
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