Vazirabad got the better of Big Orange in Dubai in March
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
By James Burn 7:26AM 3 JUL 2016
Preview: France, Sunday (3.15pm BST, live on ATR)
Saint-Cloud: Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud (Group 1) 1m4f, 4yo+
IN DUAL-DERBY hero Harzand, the Aga Khan has a top-notch middle-distance performer and come this afternoon he could have another.
When Vazirabad flashed by Meydan’s winning post in the 2m Dubai Gold Cup in March talk of him stepping up in trip for Ascot’s Gold Cup was quickly dowsed by trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre, who has long thought the four-year-old capable of being more than a simple stayer.
Today Vazirabad, assisted by pacemaking stablemate Alamgiyr, gets the chance to prove his master trainer correct, although victory will not lead to a crack at the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe as the son of Manduro is a gelding.
“I think he could be quick enough, but the question is the level of opposition because there are better horses in this than the stayers he’s been running against,” said Royer-Dupre, not ruling out a big effort from his other runner One Foot In Heaven.
“Vazirabad is in much better form than he’s been for his two starts this year and looks very, very well. He can go on any ground so that won’t be a problem.
“Alamgiyr is a pacemaker because we need a real race. We don’t want to have a slow race and just accelerate at the end.”
One Foot In Heaven, who has won his last three, is out of star mare Pride, whom Royer-Dupre saddled to win this race in 2006.
“He has a very strong turn of foot,” the trainer added. “I know he can go on any ground and he’s an easy ride. It’s difficult to know what will happen between him and Vazirabad.
“He’s talented, like his mother, who was very good when she got older. She won this race, beating Hurricane Run.”
Newmarket stables have won the £294,118/€350,480 contest three times in the past decade and the town’s challenge is led by the John Gosden-trained Eagle Top and prolific Italian winner Dylan Mouth, who represents Marco Botti.
Second in last year’s King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, Eagle Top was fourth in a Newbury Group 3 in May, but missed the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot because of the ground.
Hugo Lascelles, racing manager to the five-year-old’s owner-breeder Lady Bamford, said: “He needs to run. His Newbury run was to get him back on song, but we didn’t go to Ascot. John’s very happy with him and on his very best form he’s a classy horse.”
Dylan Mouth is also classy, but tends to save his best for Italy.
“He’s well and everything has gone to plan since his last win in Italy, but this is tougher,” said Botti. “He’s won all of his races in Italy and it’s time to see him at this level abroad. He’s in great form and the trip and ground will be fine. I’m looking forward to running him.”
Saint-Cloud also hosts the Group 2 Prix de Malleret, over 1m4f for three-year-old fillies, in which Al Wathna looks a leading contender for Jean-Claude Rouget and Al Shaqab Racing.