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Gros-Chêne : Inns of Court, in a class of his own

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Inns of Court (Invincible Spirit) was the most decorated of the five runners of the Prix du Gros-Chêne (Gr2), even though this was his first time running over 5 furlongs (1,000 metres). The winner, representing Godolphin, went clear in the finish, putting daylight between him and Sestilio Jet (French Fifteen). The pacemaker, Major Jumbo (Zebedee), came third.

Andre Fabre’s runner should now be heading for the Diamond Jubilee Stakes over 1,200 metres, at Royal Ascot, if he recovers well.

Inns of Court is the son of the successful stallion Invincible Spirit. His dam is out of Lune d’Or, who raced for the Moussac family, and has also won the Prix de Pomone and Malleret (Gr2s) in 2004. She also won the Premio Lydia Tesio (Gr1) in Italy and finished 3rd in the Yorkshire Oaks (Gr1) behind Dash to the Top, Friday’s Epsom Oaks (Gr1) winner Anapurna‘s dam.

How they raced 

1st– Inns of Court: Travelled in third by Sestilio Jet and made ground rapidly in front of the stands. He burst forward as soon as his Jockey Mickaël Barzalona pushed him to accelerate. Went clear 300m from the post and won without a crack of the whip.

2nd – Sestilio Jet: Broke well and travelled in second position. Chased the leader couldn’t match Inns of Court in the final furlongs. Finished second.

3rd – Major Jumbo: Burst from the barriers to challenge the leaders at the head of the pack. Unable to challenge Inns of Court, he fought to secure third place.

4rth – Gold Vibe: Settled in fourth position. Never any impression.

5th – Gossamer Wings: Came last out of the stalls and faded badly in front of the stalls.


Mickaël Barzalona (jockey of Inns of Court, 1st)

“I knew I was going to win all throughout the race. I asked him gently for more effort so that he wouldn’t go to hard. His entourage has decided that he should run over short distances this year. He does this beautifully in the face of qualified sprinters. He is in his element.”

Lisa-Jane Graffard (French representative for Godolphin SNC, owner of Inns of Court, 1st)

“He gave a really good feeling to Mickaël Barzalona, who his really happy about his performance. We knew he had a lot of speed, but what he has accomplished for his first try over 1000m is fantastic. We thought he could get overwhelmed at the start, but that wasn’t the case. Inns of Court is a horse with a distinct character and can have various moods. Today, he came prepared, he had his ears pricked and was ready for the fight. He is due to run in the Diamond Jubilee à Royal Ascot (Gr1 over 1.200m) but we will discuss with Mr Fabre whether he might consider running him in the King’s Stand Stakes (Gr1 over 1.000m) after this performance. All our options are open. He is a beautiful horse: he has gained strength, which often happens with the move to shorter races. He deserves his Gr1 and I hope that he will one day have his place at the stud. He deserves this as well.”

Andrea Marcialis (trainer of Sestilio Jet, 2nd)

“He ran a top-class race even though he’s a soft ground horse. He was also beaten by the best and I don’t think soft ground would have made a different to the results. I told his jockey to run behind the English horse, because he’s a good horse that is second from Gr2. Sestilio Jet finished ahead of him; it wasn’t bad form! He won’t go to Ascot because it would be too hard. I will maybe give him some holiday time because I don’t think he’ll have the ground he likes anytime soon.”

Kevin Ryan (trainer of Major Jumbo, 3rd)

“He runs well, with generosity, even though the ground isn’t exactly in his favour. Right now, he will probably take some time to rest after a busy start of the season. We gave it a try, but on this ground and in this weather, it was hard. He is generally better on softer ground.”

Roll of honour

Year    Winner                 S/A      Time           Jockey               Trainer                          Owner                             Second          Third      

2019    Inns of Court       H5     00’57’’64   M. Barzalona    A. Fabre                     Godolphin SNC            Sestilio Jet           Major Jumbo

2018    Finsbury Square  G6     00’57’’91   O. Peslier          M. Delcher Sanchez   Berend Van Dalfsen     Gold Vibe           A Momentofmadness

2017    Muthmir              G7     00’58’’01   J. Crowley         W. Haggas                  Hamdan Al Maktoum   Finsbury Square  Plusquemavie

2016    Son Cesio            H5     00’59’’58   V. Cheminaud   H.-A. Pantall              Yves Borotra                Catcall                 Finsbury Square

2015    Muthmir              G5     00’58’’22   P. Hanagan        W. Haggas                  Hamdan Al Maktoum   Catcall                 Spirit Quartz

2014    Rangali                G3     00’57’’32   F. Veron            H.-A. Pantall              Henri-Alex Pantall       Catcall                 Dibajj