Proportions simply divine at Longchamp

DIVINE PROPORTIONS produced a stunning performance at Longchamp yesterday to maintain her unbeaten record with victory in the Gainsborough Poule d’Essai des Pouliches (French 1000 Guineas).

Her trainer Pascal Bary declared the filly a “phenomenon” and the best horse he had ever trained as she racked up her seventh successive victory with a five-length triumph over Toupie.

The colts’ equivalent, the Poule d’Essai de Poulains (French 2000 Guineas), went to the Godolphin operation’s Shamardal, who redeemed himself after losing his unbeaten tag in the UAE Derby in Dubai.

Divine Proportions, though, stole the show and earned a rare ovation accorded to winners of big races in France as she returned in triumph with jockey Christophe Lemaire.

Despite her pacemaker Ratukidul not being able to give her a lead, Lemaire still put her in just behind Cherokee, who was endeavouring to set the race up for her Aidan O’Brien-trained stablemate Silk and Scarlet.

However, once Lemaire pushed the button on his mount three furlongs from home there was no contest as she surged clear.

Rank outsider Toupie ran on to be a distant second while Ysoldina was third, a length and a half adrift.

“She is a special filly,” said Alan Cooper, racing manager of the owners the Niarchos Family.

“You are always worried going into the next race that your horse will lose its unbeaten record but she showed something extra today.

“We will not make a definite plan for her now but she could step up in distance for the Prix de Diane (French Oaks) in early June.

“The options for a mile are the Coronation Stakes or the Prix Jaques Le Marois, where she’d take on older horses for the first time.

“She is very special and we have no regrets about not going to Newmarket for their Guineas, it would not have been fair.”

Bary, who won this race for the late Stavros Niarchos in 1994 with East Of The Moon, was absolutely delighted with the performance of his charge.

“Is she the best I have ever trained? She is today!” he said. “No, I would say she is the best I have had in my yard. She is a phenomenon and the way she ran today was like a filly who had stamina.”

Francois Rohaut, trainer of the runner-up, hugged Bary sportingly and said that if it had been a race filled with normal fillies he would have prevailed. “It doesn’t really matter because if feels like I won anyway,” he said.

Silk And Scarlet was eventually fourth with Cherokee seventh and O’Brien said: “The plan was always for Cherokee to set the pace. She did a very good job, particularly for the winner.

“Silk And Scarlet ran a decent race and could step up in trip for the Epsom Oaks.”

Cashmans make Divine Proportions 11-10 favourite for the Coronation, while Paddy Power left Silk And Scarlet unchanged at 20-1 for the Vodafone Oaks.

Shamardal’s victory was much harder gained as Frankie Dettori, having sent him to the front from the start, had to repel the fast-finishing challenge of Irish runner Indesatchel before getting home in a desperately tight finish.

For the Godolphin team it was a much needed victory and a welcome return to form for Shamardal. “It is great to see last year’s champion European two-year-old restore his reputation,” said Godolphin’s racing manager Simon Crisfod.

“Everything that could go wrong in Dubai that night did, but he has shown here his true quality.

“He is entered in everything from the St James’s Palace to the Epsom Derby. I will have to confer with Sheikh Mohammed as to where we will go next.”

Dettori said he hadn’t planned on setting the pace. “He just jumped so well out of the gate that I decided to keep him out in the lead. The last 100 yards he got tired but he had just enough left in the tank to hold on.”

Shamardal is now as short as 10-1 from 20s with Coral for next month’s Vodafone Derby.

“After the disappointment of Dubawi at Newmarket and this colt at Nad Al Sheba, Godolphin may now have a worthy contender to give Frankie Dettori that elusive first Derby win,” said the firm’s representative David Stevens.

Totesport cut him to 14-1 but spokesman Damien Walker said: “The first few in the French Guineas field finished in a heap and Shamardal will need to pull out more at Epsom and stay an extra half a mile if he is to go close in the Derby.”

Paddy Power go 16-1 (from 25s) for the premier Classic, while William Hill offer 12-1.

Jamie Spencer, rider of the David Wachman-trained runner-up, said being drawn out wide in stall 14 had not helped him.

“I had to use a lot of energy to get to the winner and he just did not have enough gas left in his engine to get past him,” said Spencer, who last year saw defeat snatched from the jaws of victory when his horse Antonius Pius slipped and almost went over the rails yards from the post.

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