Japanese Derby winner Makahiki scored in France on Sunday
PICTURE: Masakazu Takahashi
France: Makahiki smooth in Prix Niel success
By Keith Melrose 2:10PM 11 SEP 2016
Report: Chantilly, Sunday
Qatar Prix Niel (Group 2), 1m4f, turf, 3yo colts & fillies
JAPANESE Arc hope Makahiki ran out a comfortable but narrow winner of the Qatar Prix Niel as he warmed up for his tilt at Europe’s biggest race at the same track in three weeks’ time.
The Japanese Derby winner faced just four rivals and it was unsurprisingly quite a tactical affair, with one-time Derby favourite Midterm, not seen since suffering an injury in the Dante at York, setting a steady pace in front.
Midterm, under Vincent Cheminaud with intended jockey Ted Durcan stuck at home due to travel problems, led into the straight when a three-way sprint between him, Makahiki and Doha Dream unwound.
Makahiki was last of the three as the dash begun, but Christophe Lemaire was always confident and in the end his mount prevailed by a neck from Midterm, with Doha Dream another short head behind.
Lemaire said: “I am really pleased that the horse won. He accelerated really well and you have to remember that he hadn’t run since May.
“It was a very good reintroduction, and I was pleased I didn’t have to make the running on him, but could take a lead.”
Lord Grimthorpe, representing Midterm’s owner Khalid Abdullah, said: “He’s had a good blow and really needed that. He settled well and moved nicely during the race, and from that point of view you have to be pleased, apart from the result.
“He now has two options, either the Arc or the Champion Stakes, which we will decide in due course.”
Reaction from bookmakers towards the winner was mixed. While StanJames shortened Makahiki to 5-1 (from 8) for the Prix de l’Arc De Triomphe, Ladbrokes and Betfair pushed him out to 10-1 from the same price. Midterm was generally cut for the race and is now a best-priced 33-1.
Also at Chantilly on Sunday. . .
Qatar Prix Vermeille (Group 1), 1m4f, turf, 3yo+ fillies and mares
LEFT HAND gained a first success at Group 1 level when taking the Prix Vermeille little over an hour later under Maxime Guyon for Carlos Laffon-Parias.
The Dubawi filly, running in the famous Wertheimer colours, ran down Godolphin’s Endless Time after Mickael Barzalona, a late substitute for William Buick who suffered the same travel problems as Ted Durcan, had set a moderate gallop.
Left Hand had been second to La Cresionniere in the Prix De Diane in June and it was that filly whose price for the Arc was most affected. She is now a general 7-1 shot. Left Hand can be backed at 33-1 with Coral and Hills.
The winner also has the option of running in the British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes at Ascot and was cut to 12-1 for that race by Betfair. Options remain open, according to her trainer.
“I won’t say yes and I won’t say no [to the Arc],” he said. “Two weeks afterwards there is a race at Ascot for fillies and mares over 2,400 metres. We will take our time to think about it but we are certainly entitled to consider the Arc after that win.”
The runner-up seems more certain in her destination. Trainer Charlie Appleby said: “She has got her ground today and Mickael has given her a lovely ride on the front end. She will hopefully be very competitive in the Fillies And Mares at Ascot on Champions Day.”
Prix Foy (Group 2), 1m4f, 4yo+
SILVERWAVE brought further success for Guyon as the pair triumphed over long-time leader Ito in the Prix Foy.
Though the race had the fewest runners of the Arc trials with four lining up, Ito and Mickael Barzalona ensured a fair gallop and once they turned in only Guyon and Silverwave looked like getting past.
They did so inside the final furlong and stretched on to a comfortable success.
The winner went on to finish tenth to Golden Horn in the Arc last year after his second to New Bay in the Niel and will presumably go the same route again. He is a general 25-1 shot after Sunday’s success, his second in a row after the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud in July.