The best juvenile in Europe? Atomic Force shows class in Papin stroll
Atomic Force posted a Racing Post Rating when winning at Chantilly four weeks ago which put him on a par with any of the two-year-old winners at Royal Ascot.
The suspicion that the Kevin Ryan-trained gelding might be the quickest of the lot was reinforced with a straightforward repeat in the Group 2 Darley Prix Robert Papin on Sunday, although this time Stephane Pasquier donned the red-and-black-striped silks of new owner, Hong Kong-based Siu Pak Kwan.
"He's just that type of horse, he's very simple to do anything with," said Ryan. "He has a high cruising speed and he can quicken off it. He puts horses in trouble a fair way out and he's done it again today, so I'm delighted for the new connections."
The Darley series culminates in the Group 1 Prix Morny at Deauville and while that is restricted to colts and fillies, Ryan and Siu still have plenty to look forward to with the son of Cotai Glory, who won his first two starts for the Hambleton Racing syndicate.
Ryan said: "He'll come home and obviously it limits his opportunities, being a gelding. I'll discuss it with his owners later in the week. We'll let them enjoy the moment for now and make a plan later."
There were two and a half lengths back to Baghed in second for Italian-based Vicenzo Fazio, while the George Boughey-trained Hellomydarlin ran on well to be third after appearing a little cold on leaving the stalls, following a long delay before loading.
Victor Ludorum back in the groove on good ground
Victor Ludorum posted his first success since last season's Poule d'Essai des Poulains with a fluent three-length defeat of Brentford Hope in the Group 3 Prix Messidor.
"It was really important to find a winning opportunity for him," said Godolphin France's Lisa-Jane Graffard. "He took a really long time to come to hand this year after having had a break in Newmarket. Anyone who has seen him at the races will have noticed he kept a winter coat for quite a while, but he's really started to come to himself again now. A mile on good ground is key for him, he's a real Shamardal with a good kick."
Discussions between trainer Andre Fabre, Sheikh Mohammed and the Godolphin team in Newmarket will determine how Group 1 targets over a mile in August – namely the Sussex Stakes and the Prix Jacques le Marois – are divided up.
On ground which had clearly firmed up since the morning reading of good to soft, Jamie Spencer set out to ensure he wouldn't be left vulnerable to those with more aptitude for a quick surface and Brentford Hope stayed on courageously to preserve second place, albeit he was no match for the winner in such speed-favouring conditions.
Trainer Richard Hughes was present to see one of his stable stars and said: "He's at a stage now in his career when he can run on good ground and come home safe but any quicker than that and he would have been withdrawn.
"He was very tough and resilient there. People have knocked him for being a bridle horse but he certainly wasn't there. Normally in France when you're in front a furlong out they come and get you and you finish fifth."
Hughes added: "On heavy ground he can jump off and go the same speed and we can't wait to get our conditions. There's a mile-and-two race at Haydock and we'll step him back up in trip while the ground is good.
"But on heavy ground a mile is perfect and our goal is the Group 1 at Ascot at the end of the year [the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes]. The last three years it's been nearly unraceable."
Noticeable Grace snatches Chloe thriller
Charlie Appleby has not needed to rely on too many photo-finishes with his best horses in recent weeks but Creative Flair had to settle for third after going down by a head and a nose to Noticeable Grace and Rougir in the Prix Chloe.
Noticeable Grace was making it three wins from four starts for owner/breeder Prince Faisal and trainer Andre Fabre.
"She's been brought along beautifully by the master trainer," said racing manager Ted Voute. "You never know but it would be lovely to think she could be a filly for the Prix de l’Opera if things go well.
"She is a Make Believe homebred out of a mare by Olden Times, who we still own and who lives at Throckmorton Stud. It's a true success for Prince Faisal's breeding and very pleasing for him."
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