Olmedo follows up for Rouget and Demuro to spark French Derby bid
Emirates Poule d'Essai des Poulains (Group 1) | 1m, 3yo colts
Jean-Claude Rouget ensured that for a fourth year running there will be at least one Classic trophy in the cabinet as Olmedo and Cristian Demuro came from well off a generous pace to deny the James Tate-trained Hey Gaman and Dice Roll in a frantic finish.
Carrying the lucky blue silks of Antonio Caro made famous by Avenir Certain and Almanzor, Demuro was repeating his success of 12 months ago over Deauville's straight track when driving Brametot up to collar Le Brivido on the line.
Now the team will attempt to complete the same Classic double as last year, with Paddy Power cutting Olmedo to 7-4 (from 9-2) for the Qipco Prix du Jockey Club on June 3 over an extra two and a half furlongs.
A delighted Demuro joked: "I think he’s got a bit more pace than Brametot because I used to lose 20 kilos every time I rode him. He has a good turn of foot and then he can accelerate again to run the others down."
It was also the colt's finishing speed which impressed Rouget after Olmedo survived what was a messy race in the backwash of US Navy Flag's stumble in front.
"I need to watch it back but he looked like he got checked at one stage, but once they turned in I was confident because I knew he had that turn of foot," said Rouget, who also pointed to conditions being much more favourable than when Olmedo was narrowly beaten on heavy ground by Wootton in the Prix de Fontainebleau last month.
"Today the ground was much better and we saw a different side of him. They were going pretty quick up front and it’s not easy to catch them when they get rolling on this ground, you need to have a super horse to do that."
Rouget quickly passed over the option of the St James's Palace Stakes in favour of the Jockey Club, but Royal Ascot could be the next stop for Hey Gaman, who improved from his third-placed effort in the Greenham Stakes to be beaten just a neck, with Dice Roll a nose behind in third.
Tate said: "We knew he had come on a lot from his prep run and it's bittersweet just getting beaten in such a tight finish. I’m pleased with him and he’s a big old horse so I think he’ll improve again. I don’t think that'll be the best of him.
"There's the St James’s Palace, but there are lots of races for him. He doesn’t like the ground too quick, this would be as quick as he wants it, and he's run very well. I'll be prouder in a few minutes when I’ve got over getting beat."
Ryan Moore set out to make all on US Navy Flag and Aidan O'Brien remains of an open mind as to whether last year's Middle Park and Dewhurst winner will stay at a mile after he came home fifth.
Asked whether a drop back in trip was forthcoming, O'Brien said: "We're happy with the run. We’ll have an option of going back to the Irish Guineas or Ascot. I'm not sure about the trip, obviously he can go back, he’s won a Group 1 over six so has options."
Favourite Wootton finished fourth at the end of an anything but ideal trip.
Trainer Alex Pantall said: "He dwelt in the stalls and found himself behind, and then coming down the hill he hesitated – I’m not sure why, maybe he was avoiding a horse in front – and then went to the outside and was too free. He ended up making his effort prematurely.
"I'm naturally very disappointed. I was hoping we'd learn a lot more about him and that hasn’t really happened. I've no idea what we’ll do next."
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