Benbaun supremacy reaches Longchamp

BENBAUN has made the Curragh his home-from-home but he could not have picked a better place to collect a rare ‘away’ success than the Prix de l’Abbaye at Longchamp yesterday.

Six times victorious at the Curragh, it has been over three years since he won anywhere else and he has given English trainer Mark Wallace plenty of anxious moments.

A predilection for fast ground had been one of the potential stumbling blocks for Benbaun (13-2) but Wallace was happy after taking a look at the track. There was not much to worry about once the five-furlong dash started and Pat Smullen got first run on Kingsgate Native to power home by two lengths.

Last year’s winner Desert Lord was the same distance away in third, with Moss Vale and 2003 hero Patavellian rolling back the years for a British-trained clean sweep of the first five places.

Newmarket-based Irishman Wallace said: “We’ve looked after him and haven’t run him in every race.

“We were worried about the ground but we walked the track and it wasn’t too soft, so we thought we’d take our chance.

“He burst (a blood vessel) at Royal Ascot, so we were worried it might happen again. The vets have done a great job as he’s just had niggly problems all the way through.

“I’ve been training four and a half years, this is my first Group One, so it’s a dream come true.

“He’s definitely going to Hong Kong in December – if they invite him and I think they might! Then we might go to Australia. He’s got very few miles on the clock, so we will try and come back next year.”

John Best’s Kingsgate Native, who broke the mould by winning the Nunthorpe Stakes as a juvenile, proved the effort was no fluke.

His rider Jimmy Quinn reported: “The winner went away and was always holding me.

“He handled the ground OK but on good ground he is even better.

“The placings might have been different with another 12 months on his back.”

The unbeaten Zarkava (6-1) marked herself down as a potentially special filly in the Prix Marcel Boussac.

From the familiar production line of the Aga Khan and trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre, Christophe Soumillon cut a swathe through the pack turning for home but got stuck on the rails at the two-furlong-marker.

Once extricated, she reeled in Conference Call and pulled two and a half lengths clear.

Godolphin recruit Laureldean Gale was only eighth.

Zarkava moved to the head of the betting for the 1000 Guineas with some bookmakers, although Coral chose not to quote her, believing she will stay in France.

The Aga Khan said: “She is quite a stressed filly so we thought it better no to give her too many runs and we decided to go from a maiden to a Group One.

“She could come back at a mile next year and we will then see if she gets further.

“She has done all that has been asked of her as a two-year-old and it is too early to talk about targets for next year.”

Yeats could not follow up Coolmore’s success in the Arc and was undone in a tactical Prix du Cadran by German raider Le Miracle (7-1), eventually staying on for third.

The winner had been third in this year’s Ascot Gold Cup to Yeats but Dominique Boeuf dictated the pace on the second circuit and just had enough to hold off Varevees.

Winning trainer Werner Baltromei will point Le Miracle to the Prix Royal-Oak now, adding: “The jockey rode a brilliant race. He worked very well last week and had to have a chance but we didn’t think we could beat Yeats.”

Of Yeats, Aidan O’Brien reported: “It was a slow-run race. That’s it for the season – let’s enjoy him next year.”

Jean de Rouaille’s Satwa Queen (3-1), runner-up to Mandesha in the Prix de l’Opera 12 months ago, gained her just reward in a thriller for the 2007 renewal.

She came desperately late under Thierry Thulliez to pick off the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Promising Lead in the shadow of the post, with the equally fast-finishing Legerete a flicker away in third.

Henry Cecil’s Oaks winner Light Shift was prominent to the turn but dropped away.

The winning trainer said: “I was scared of Light Shift but now I feel like I did when France beat the All Blacks.

“She might go to Hong Kong but I don’t know if she’ll stay in training next year.”

Cecil said of Light Shift: “She’s been in training since March and she’s run flat – you see it time after time with fillies at this time of year. There is a chance she could stay in training.”

Dual Guineas winner Finsceal Beo was also disappointing but trainer Jim Bolger added: “She’ll have a long break now and then we’ll look forward to Dubai.”

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