Wonder filly strikes again

Zarkava turned in another spellbinding display under Christophe Soumillon to win the French 1000 Guineas at Longchamp.

The Aga Khan’s daughter of Zamindar has mopped on all four of her starts to date, and on each occasion displayed an electric turn of foot.

Victory in the Prix Marcel Boussac on Arc day marked her out as something special and she warmed up for the French 1000 Guineas without breaking sweat over the course and distance last month.

With her unbeaten record in tact, she was sent off the 4-9 favourite and was settled in rear by Soumillon after her trademark slow start.

Halfway To Heaven, representing Ballydoyle, did her part in setting a ferocious pace which helped Zarkava set a new race record.

Once pulled out into clear air, Alain de Royer-Dupre’s charge skipped clear within a matter of strides and opened up a two-length margin at the line.

Kayaba ran well in behind to finish second, with Aidan O’Brien’s Halfway To Heaven taking third.

Despite holding an entry at Epsom in next month’s Juddmonte Oaks, Zarkava is likely to stay in France for the short term and head to Chantilly on June 8 for the Prix de Diane.

His Highness the Aga Khan said: “To go to the Diane would be the obvious thing to do.

“I honestly don’t know if she is entered at Epsom but that was never the plan.

“I get the feeling from her races that she will stay further, and it is great to have another super filly.”

Rio De La Plata and River Proud flew the flag for Britain when overcoming difficult draws to take second and third behind 20-1 outsider Falco in the French 2000 Guineas.

The pair were drawn 16th and 14th respectively – although the latter was forced to start from gate 20 on the wide outside after becoming troublesome once loaded into the stall.

River Proud was second-last turning into the sun-kissed home straight and appeared to have an insurmountable task on his hands.

But Richard Quinn conjured a sweet tune from the Craven Stakes fourth, who motored through virtually the whole field to narrowly lose second to Godolphin’s Rio De La Plata.

While Quinn was stoking up his mount, Olivier Peslier had already made his move on the Carlos Laffon-Parias-trained winner and the Pivotal colt shot clear halfway down the home run.

A recent winner in the Parisian suburbs over the mile trip, Falco stretched clear once in command to sail across the line three lengths to the good of Rio De La Plata.

River Proud, who started as a 25-1 chance, damaged his original stall when misbehaving and missed out by a short head on second place.

Cole accepted the defeat on the chin and said: “You have to behave in the stalls and he hasn’t, which has probably cost him the French 2000 Guineas.”

By contrast, Peslier was delighted with the way the race panned out for Falco.

The winning jockey said: “My horse was always going well. He likes a good gallop and they went a good gallop throughout.”

Rio De La Plata ran an encouraging race for Godolphin, who have yet to strike in Europe this season, with the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere winner finishing well under Frankie Dettori.

Racing manager Simon Crisford said: “He’s entered in everything from a mile to a mile and a half, including the Derby, and all options are open.”

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