Travelling at the head of the pack in the Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardère (Gr1), Alson (Areion) gave every impression of victory, leading the race at a slow pace, which could have thrown off some of his challengers. However, the French Victor Ludorum (Shamardal) and race favourite, showed his true colours travelling midfield by overcoming his opponent in a suspenseful finish, closing the gap metre by metre. He imposed himself more than the gap suggests at the end of the race. The Irish Armory (Galileo) finished third after bravely battling with Alson from the outside.
Always on Alson’s inside, Ecrivain (Lope de Vega) came fourth along the rail, without taking advantage of the ground which opened up in the straight to gain on Alson.
The regrets will be reserved for Helter Skelter (Wootton Bassett), who pulled hard finishing last: he would have made a beautiful run in the final straight, but too late.
Victor Ludorum is the fifth foal out of Antiquities (Kaldounevees), homebred by Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum and trained by André Fabre. Second in the Prix Cléopâtre (Gr3) for her second race only, she never won at this level and went to stud early at 4 years old. Victor Ludorum is her second Shamardal foal after Ancient History, also trained by Fabre and twice a winner at 3 before he was exported to Australia.
Antiquities is out of Historian (Pennekamp), a Listed winner in her first start at 3 in March and the sister to Street Cry (Machiavellian), a Breeders’Cup and Dubai World Cup winner, the sire of the great Winx.
It’s Mickaël Barzalona’s second win in the « Lagardère », after Ultra in 2015.
The fifth for André Fabre, after Ultra (2015), Loup Solitaire (1995), Goldmark (1994) and Jade Robbery (1989).
And the third for Godolphin, after Royal Marine (2018), Ultra (2015) et Rio de la Plata (2007)… to which we can add the victory of cheikh Mohamed al Maktoum with Goldmark (1994) and that of Cheikh Hamdan al Maktoum with Naaqoos (2008).
Mickaël Barzalona (jockey of Victor Ludorum, 1st)
“This one can really move (laughs). He’s a really interesting horse because of his character. He can be a bit tricky before and after the race, but nevertheless he knows what needs to be done. He doesn’t pull and has a gradual acceleration that always gives you a good feel. I have never been able to ride him like that, because of his temper before the race. I have never dared to ask him to follow a certain pace at the start of the race. Today, everything was in the cards for us, tracking Armory who was the best horse in the pack. There weren’t sure that he would like the ground, he had lots of gas, but he didn’t want to make his effort too soon and then fade in the last 100 meters. I gave only one crack of the whip because he still had a lot left in store.”
Lisa-Jane Graffard (racing manager of Godolphin in France, owner of Victor Ludorum, 1st)
“We have some really good 2-year olds by Shamardal. It’s great to have already won several Group 1’s with them. It’s important to win these big races and to have a good stock of horses for the future of the stud. It’s going well this year. We now have three very good 2-year olds in our stables. Thankfully, the Cheikh Mohamed [al Maktoum] is a good sportsman and it doesn’t scare him to run several horses in the same race. These are good problems (laughs).”
Jean-Pierre Carvalho (trainer of Alson, 2nd)
“Alson ran a good race. When you come second in the Jean-Luc Lagardère, you can’t be disappointed. He is a bit keen and today we change our approach by going in the lead. We didn’t want to see him stuck in the pack. This move did the trick, but maybe we went a bit a slow. We didn’t have any doubts about his form or the ground. His mother is by Galileo and his father, Areion, produces horses that go well in soft. We will see what our plans are next year.”
Aidan O’Brien, Trainer of Amory (Galileo) 3rd Jean-Luc Lagardere
“He has tried very hard there, Ryan was pleased and so are we, you have to be happy with that. He is a good mover so obviously the better the ground is then the better it will suit him. The ground is what it is for every horse, they all have to go on it. In an ideal world obviously, we would have preferred better ground, so with that in mind he ran very well. He is a very solid horse, we think he is going to progress well I think. We will see how he is after this, but it is possible that we will see him again before the end of the year, and definitely next year, it makes sense.”
Carlos Lafon-Parias (trainer of Ecrivain, 4th)
“He was beaten by 3 good horses whom he had never faced before. He ran well and did not disappoint at all, finishing less than a length and a half behind the winner. He had good run and would have preferred a bit more rhythm, but there’s no real excuse. His year is definitely over.”