Rail Link team toast Arc success

CONNECTIONS of Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe hero Rail Link remain understandably elated following the colt’s thrilling victory at Longchamp on Sunday.

Having watched Dancing Brave gain top honours 20 years ago, owner Khalid Abdullah’s silks were once again carried to success in the famous contest by a progressive three-year-old.

Stephane Pasquier was having his first ride aboard the son of Dansili and produced him with a telling run to lift the coveted prize.

“It was just a superb day,” enthused Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to Abdullah.

“It was one of those rare occasions when everything just goes right and Stephane gave him a great ride.”

Rail Link is reported to be in grand shape following his exploits, and while he will not be seen in action again this season, he will be trained with a four-year-old campaign in mind.

“The horse is absolutely fine. I’ve just seen him and he’s come out of the race well – he certainly looks well and there are no problems, thank goodness,” Grimthorpe added.

“It’s exciting to have him back next year, he’ll stay in training and I hope he’ll be back for the Arc.”

Having mastered Japanese raider Deep Impact with around a furlong left to run, Rail Link dug deep to repel the late challenge of Pride, who flew home to finish a highly-creditable second.

Her prominent showing delighted owner Sven Hanson, although he admits finishing such a close second in an Arc is hard to swallow, especially as his mare would have appreciated some more cut in the ground.

“I was both thrilled and slightly unhappy with the run!” he said.

“It was agonisingly close and more agonising that we had rain in the night and in the evening that finished 100 yards away from the racecourse.

“Obviously that could have come a little bit closer and that would have been good but such is life, sometimes it’s up and sometimes it’s down.”

After finishing seventh in the Arc of 2005, Pride went on to chase home David Junior in the Champion Stakes over 10 furlongs at Newmarket two weeks later.

She again holds an entry in that contest, and while Hanson had not expected her to take up the challenge prior to her Arc run, he admits that options remain open after she appears to have taken the race in her stride.

Japanese superstar Deep Impact ran an honourable race to claim third but could not quite gain the victory his immense band of supporters craved.

“This morning I felt very sad and disappointed,” admitted trainer Yasuo Ikee.

“However it’s good that Deep Impact is fine after the Arc. I also feel I shouldn’t only have feelings of regret and I don’t want to give up.

“I haven’t decided on his future plan yet, but I would like to see the next race as a challenge.

“I really appreciate the huge amount of support from the vast amount of Japanese fans who travelled to Longchamp.

“I would also like to thank the many Japanese back home in Japan who stayed up until midnight watching the Arc to encourage Deep Impact.”

One of the major disappointments of the race was Rail Link’s stablemate Shirocco.

Andre Fabre’s five-year-old came into the contest seeking his fifth successive win but faded out of contention in the straight and trailed home last of the eight runners.

He could yet attempt to repeat last year’s victory at the Breeders’ Cup Turf but plans remain fluid for the time being.

“To be honest there isn’t much to say at the moment as we don’t have an explanation for his run but he seems fine after the race,” explained Paul Harley, racing manager to owner Baron von Ullmann.

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