By Lewis Porteous 3:54PM 15 OCT 2016
Report: Ascot, Saturday
Qipco Champion Stakes (Group 1) 1m2f, 3yo+
ALMANZOR’S audition for the best horse in Europe was as smooth as silk as the three-year-old produced a turn of foot Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe heroine Found had no answer to in the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.
The pair had met in last month’s Irish Champion Stakes, but in between Found had proved what a class act she is by winning Europe’s richest race.
Her year-younger rival had three-quarters of a length to spare on the Leopardstown slopes, but he extended that superiority to two lengths with a dazzling display, one that makes him arguably Europe’s most talented racehorse.
Trained by Jean-Claude Rouget, who has swept most before him in France this year, Almanzor broke tight against the rail in stall one, but was manoeuvred wider by experienced rider Christophe Soumillon, who partnered the great Cirrus Des Aigles to a memorable success in the 2011 Champion Stakes.
The pair then settled into a midfield slot towards the inside, tracked by Ryan Moore and Found.
Going well, the 11-8 favourite shifted wide again to make his run and came head to head with Aidan O’Brien’s inmate, who went off a 5-2 pick.
Any ding-dong battle was short lived, however, as Almanzor came away to add to his triumphs in the Prix du Jockey Club and Irish Champion.
Soumillon said: “He’s an amazing horse. Everything you do with him looks easy and he’s shown how good he is. He was nearly unbeatable all year and he’s getting smarter and smarter.
“I came a bit early on him and I knew Found was there and how strong she is, but he kept going. He’s a strong horse and his great thing is his turn of foot.”
Connections of the winner bypassed the Arc even though stablemate and leading contender La Cressonniere was ruled out days before with an injury.
“We’ve never tried a mile and a half with him, but I’m sure he’ll stay,” added Soumillon. “He’s a strong horse and very versatile.”