Two champions milers from Ireland fought a great battle in the final stages of the Prix de Moulin de Longchamp (Gr1), Sunday, September 8 at ParisLongchamp. The 4-year-old Romanised (Holy Roman Emperor), who had just won over the same trip in the Prix Haras de Fresnay-le-Buffard Jacques Le Marois (Gr1) in Deauville, and his 3-year-old challenger Circus Maximus (Galileo), winner in June of the St. James’s Palace Stakes (Gr1) at Royal Ascot, took over the field one out and went head to head to the wire. The younger horse passed the post only a nose ahead of his older rival and the stewards had to review the finish before leaving the result unaltered.
Line of Duty (Galileo) finished strongly in third place, only one length behind the duelists, four weeks after his third place in the “Marois”. Olmedo (Declaration of War) also confirmed his return to the top with a good effort in fourth. Fifth, the winner of the Irish Two Thousand Guineas (Gr1) Phoenix of Spain (Lope de Vega) also showed some progress, a little more than a length in front of Marois-second Shaman (Shamardal).
Circus Maximus had not been idle after his brave Ascot success in June. Second to the now-retired Too Darn Hot in the Sussex Stakes (Gr1), he had then again bravely fought over an extended 10 furlongs-trip in a hot Juddmonte International Stakes (Gr1) at York. He seems to be more at ease over the mile. His success is also a tribute to the class of Too Darn Hot, winner of the Prix Jean Prat (Gr1) in Deauville, then the best British mile of the Summer in Goodwood, but retired after that.
The best 3-year-old milers of 2019 have finally matched their elders, this year. The season is not over yet, and the verdict of the “Moulin” is not the end of the story. The British Champions’ Day will try to shine some more light on the 2019 milers’ championship, but the hopeful connections for the 2020 season must know that their babies will probably have to face some very seasoned and consistent warriors … Which is all racing fans ask for!
Circus Maximus is the first foal out of Duntle (Danehill Dancer, pictured here). He was bred by the Niarchos family as Flaxman Stables. Duntle, however, began her career for owner Sonia Rogers. She joined the ranks of the Niarchos after winning her maiden race at 3 on the Dundalk all-weather track by 18 lengths for her seasonal bow. She remained in training with David Wachman but finished only a favourite 4th in a Guineas trial, ridden by William James Lee (rider Sunday of … Romanised!). She skipped the classics after that to win the Sandringham Handicap (L) at Royal Ascot, then the Desmond Stakes (Gr3) two months later at Leopardstown before finishing the season with a second place in the Matron Stakes (Gr1). At age 4, she ran 5 times, won an Irish Gr3 for her comeback, then returned to Ascot where she won the Duke of Cambridge Stakes (Gr2), before taking second place in the Prix Rothschild (Gr1) behind Elusive Kate. Beaten at Arlington over a little less than 10 furlongs, she bade farewell after a third place in the Sun Chariot Stakes (Gr1).
She was one of the best females of her generation on the mile.