National Defense: wins the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
By Stuart Riley 1:52PM 2 OCT 2016
Report: France, Sunday
Chantilly: Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (Grand Criterium) (Group 1) 1m, 2yo colts & fillies
IN RECENT years Criquette Head-Maarek has become synonymous with Arc day thanks to the wonderful Treve and she was to the fore once more as National Defense made light work of his Lagardere opposition to register a wide-margin success.
The first year after the retiring of her stable star has been a difficult one for Head-Maarek. She lost the patronage of Al Shaqab Racing earlier this year despite winning two Arcs for the operation and had saddled just two winners for the year – one of which came courtesy of National Defense on his debut.
A third last time out in what is turning out to be a very hot Group 3 over course and distance meant he was sent off a 5-1 shot and he proved that while his trainer may be struggling, her masterful touch with classy animals remains as he led from start to finish.
National Defense looked the winner a long way out, with Pierre-Charles Boudot backing the field up around the bend and then cruising clear as all around him were hard at work to keep up. When he pushed the button the pair powered clear, galloping all the way to the line for a comfortable success.
“He is not a difficult horse but he has a lot of energy,” said Head-Maarek. “The other day he didn’t settle in behind and so I told Pierre-Charles to let him go on like he did on debut at Deauville. He is a very good horse. I have had a terrible year and that is my third winner.”
Treve’s two Arc wins came by five lengths and two lengths and National Defense was similarly destructive, putting four and a half lengths into Sylvester Kirk’s 8-1 chance Salouen, with Aidan O’Brien’s Whitecliffsofdover third.
Kirk said: “It’s a lovely run but I’m disappointed as I was hoping he’d go one better. I don’t know the times but it looked like they went slow.” The time of the race was 1m35.53s, which was 0.47s faster than standard.
Aidan O’Brien, who also saddled the horse who finished last, Utah, added: “Whitecliffsofdover ran a nice race, I think he’ll be better next year, he’s still babyish. Utah had a false step coming off the back straight and he’s better than that.”