Makahiki put down the best performance out of the three trials for next month’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on Sunday in the Group 2 Qater Prix Niel and connections of the Japanese Derby winner are confident there is much more to come.
Jockey Christophe-Patrice Lemaire rides his Japanese horse Makahiki on September 7, 2016, in Gouvieux. On October 2, 2016, Makahiki will try to win the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. Jacques Demarthon / AFP
Jockey Christophe-Patrice Lemaire rides his Japanese horse Makahiki on September 7, 2016, in Gouvieux. On October 2, 2016, Makahiki will try to win the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. Jacques Demarthon / AFP

Chantilly, France// Makahiki put down the best performance out of the three trials for next month’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on Sunday in the Group 2 Qater Prix Niel and connections of the Japanese Derby winner are confident there is much more to come.

On paper the defeat of one-time English Derby favourite Midterm by a neck hardly sets the pulse racing, but Makahiki showed that he is in good heart and, according to his trainer, did only as much as he had to in order to hold off the British challenger.

Makahiki had not run since he edged the Tokyo Yushun in May and considering Midterm was himself coming back off a break following a hamstring injury, there are two ways of looking at the form.

Trainer Yasuo Tomomichi must be a glass-half-full kind of trainer and is dreaming of becoming the first Japanese to achieve Arc success in three weeks.

“I am most of all relieved, as this is a very different environment to Japan,” he said. “We will now spend the next three weeks reinforcing the lessons that he learnt today. Running today will bring him on, as he hasn’t run for four months since his Derby win. The aim was to give him an easy race, which he had.”

Jockey Christophe Lemaire has played a key role in the preparation of Makahiki, who has been in Chantilly for nearly two months. The French rider revealed that the three-year-old son of Deep Impact had a lot more to give.

“He had to work at the end of the race, which is a good thing,” Lemaire said.

“He was 70-80 per cent fit and I am sure he will improve his condition for the Arc.”

French horses dominated the other two trials with Pascal Bary’s Silverwave proving an easy winner of an unremarkable Prix Foy, and Carlos Laffon-Parias’s Left Hand taking the Prix Vermeille for fillies. Both could join Makahiki and Midterm in the European showpiece and of the two Left Hand could be dangerous.

Elsewhere, Dubai World Cup flop Vadamos powered to victory in the Group 1 Prix du Moulin and punched his ticket to Australia, where Andre Fabre, his trainer, hopes to run him in the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley on October 22.

Meydan form was advertised positively later in the day when Vazirabad, the Dubai Gold Cup winner, won the Prix Gladiateur.

If there was not a true world champion thoroughbred present, then there certainly was a Purebred Arabian one.

Al Mourtajez had powered to a devastating victory in the International Stakes at Goodwood in July and he added to that by sauntering to an effortless victory in the Group 1 Prix Dragon.

As soon as the gates opened Julien Auge got his mount motoring and after the first 100 metres Al Mourtajez’s familiar raking stride had carried him to the front. Nothing changed for the duration of the race and Auge was offering his mount congratulatory slaps on the shoulder and clicking his fingers at least 50 metres from the finish with the gap back to Majeed at a full seven lengths.

Judging by his performance here it seems there is nothing that can hold a candle to the six-year-old grey son of Amer. Victory in the Qatar World Cup back here in three weeks looks a formality before he shoots at the Triple Crown in the Emir’s Sword in Doha next year.

“I’m not sure he has three or four gears more than the others but he is above the norm,” trainer Thomas Fourcy said. “I am not the right person to say who could beat him in the Qatar Arabian World Cup. But they way that he is running at the moment, I don’t see how he can be beaten, unless the race has no pace like last year.

sports@thenational.ae

Published: September 11, 2016 04:00 AM

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