HORSE of the year Kingman conquered France yesterday thanks to another nerveless ride from ice-cool jockey James Doyle that allowed him to optimise the champion miler’s devastating turn of pace on unsuitably testing ground.
Yet the manner of this victory in the Grade One Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville was even more impressive than the horse’s recent victory in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood because the early pace in the five-runner race was pedestrian at best.
However Doyle, retained rider to owner Prince Khalid Abdullah, refused to be intimidated by Frankie Dettori’s tactics on the eventual third Olympic Glory before allowing Kingman to show his class and sprint clear to win by an imposing two lengths from French favourite Anodin.
“It’s a shame they went so slowly early on because then it turned into a dash to the line,” said Doyle after winning his fourth successive Group One race this year on Kingman.
“I wasn’t sure that he would be able to go and do his usual thing on the ground, but he was just the same Kingman when I asked him to pick up as he’s always been.”
After torrential rain, Kingman’s participation was in the balance and winning trainer John Gosden said the final decision was made by the owner.
“It was a 50-50 to run in my mind, and a very sporting gesture by the Prince,” said Gosden.
“I’m very proud because the Jacques le Marois is the most prestigious mile race in France.
“I didn’t think he was entirely in love with the ground – it was different to anything else he had faced – but he’s got a wonderful temperament and showed he can cope with anything.
“It was a muddling pace, and James kept wondering when they were going to quicken it up. You had to be impressed with the way he went and won his race – the good thing was that he completely switched off.
“The plan is now the QEII at Ascot on October 18 which has always been his end-of-year objective.”
The hope now is that the Kingman team take another sporting decision and keep Kingman in training as a four-year-old – Prince Khalid is blessed to have another great champion so soon after the incomparable Frankel.
Kingman’s connections will be at York this week where the Gosden-trained Taghrooda will face Luca Cumani’s Volume in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks on Thursday.
“She’s a tough, consistent filly and she deserves to run in all the big mile and a half fillies’ races,” said Cumani.
Taghrooda will be ridden by Paul Hanagan after the 2010 and 2011 champion jockey confirmed his fitness with a double at Pontefract yesterday; he has been on the sidelines since suffering a heavy fall at Glorious Goodwood nearly three weeks ago.
In other York news, it is increasingly likely that dual Derby winner Australia will line-up in Wednesday’s Juddmonte International – declarations are confirmed at 10am today – after jockey Joseph O’Brien confirmed that he intends to make the 8st 12lb weight.
Two years ago, O’Brien had to miss the ride on his father Aidan’s Camelot in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe because he could not manage 8st 11lb.
After winning on Qualify at Dundalk yesterday, when he put up 1lb overweight on a horse scheduled to carry 9st, the 6ft tall jockey was asked about Australia who will receive a weight allowance from older horses at York. He said: “I can do the weight.”
Meanwhile, The Yorkshire Post’s columnist Danny Tudhope, and his Nawton trainer David O’Meara, head to York in flying form after Out Do provided them with a third victory in the William Hill Great St Wilfrid at Ripon in four years. “It got very tight, but we got lucky,” said Tudhope whose previous wins in the race came courtesy of O’Meara’s Pepper Lane in 2011 and 2012.