Agencies Cagnes-sur-Mer, France
The French seaside track of Cagnes-sur-Mer saw two winners in Qatari colours to open the race meeting on Monday. While His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalifa al-Thani’s Yardan topped the Prix de Fabron, Divertissement bagged the Prix de Caucade in the colours of Al Shaqab Racing.
The first race of the day, the Prix de Fabron, a newcomer’s race over 1,500 meters on the all-weather, reunited 9 colts and geldings. The three-year-old colt Yardan, ridden by French Champion jockey Pierre-Charles Boudot, was sharply away before settling in fifth position with plenty of cover.
In the final turn, the pacesetter Grace Bay held his lead with Yardan coming to the rail. Once in the straight, the Henri-Alex Pantall trained colt looked to be blocked in behind the leaders with plenty of running and nowhere to go.
The leader came under pressure from all sides and, moving slightly off the rail, left the opportunity for a decisive move from Boudot to take Yardan up a small gap that briefly opened up on the rail. Yardan, showing a professional attitude on his first start in competition, quickly took the lead from Grace Bay, who fought back bravely. They ran neck and neck to the line, but Yardan proved the stronger, holding on to his lead to win by a nose.
Cristian Demuro (right) rides Al Shaqab Racing's Divertissement to Prix de Caucade victory in Cagnes-sur-Mer, France, on Monday. (A. Viguier)
Yardan is by the sire of sires Invincible Spirit and was bought as a yearling by the Haras de Victot at the Arqana October Yearling Sale. He is out of Nepali Princess, a sister to Al Shaqab Racing sire and champion racehorse Shalaa.
Half-an-hour later, in the colours of Al Shaqab Racing, co-owners and breeders with Mrs John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith of Coolmore, Divertissement opened her scorecard in the Prix de Caucade, a newcomer’s race for three-year-old fillies.
Trained by Champion French trainer, Jean-Claude Rouget, the attractive bay filly was slightly uncoordinated when coming out of the stalls. However, her draw of 1 in the gates ensured that she nonetheless held a good position on the rail in mid-division from the off. Racing relaxed with a big action under jockey Cristian Demuro, there was a good pace in the race led by Right On.
Once in the straight, she still had plenty to do as the leaders kicked for home. Coming up through horses, she made use of her generous stride in the final 300m, progressively making up ground under a top-class ride from Demuro to take the lead in the final stages. She left a strong impression that there will be plenty more to come from this well-bred filly.
Divertissement is from the first crop of Shalaa, whose first progeny are making themselves known in both Europe and Australasia. She is out of the Galileo mare Truth, a daughter of the great Prudenzia, and so a full sister to the great Group 1 heroine Magic Wand.
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