Alain de Royer-Dupre enjoyed a similar start to the 2017 season as he did last year when Vazirabad won the Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan for the second year running.
Yet, while in 2016, following his victory over Big Orange at Meydan, Vazirabad was exclusively campaigned on French soil, this year the Chantilly trainer has every intention of bringing him to Royal Ascot and Goodwood for the Ascot Gold Cup and the Goodwood Cup.
The dual Group 1-winning stayer is without doubt the stable’s figurehead, but as always, the famous silks of HH Aga Khan will also be well represented in many of the three-year-old races.
However, Alain de Royer-Dupre is known for taking his time with the younger generation and especially this season he has already warned, many of them are likely to make a later rather than an earlier start.
As he explained to attheraces.com’s Liz Price, this is particularly in the case of his three-year-old fillies, of which many are yet unraced. And here, de Royer-Dupre lifts the lid on his 2017 team.
4-y-o ch f Dalakhani – Altamira
As a three-year-old, Asterina won her maiden on her third attempt when she beat stable companion Rosvana in the Prix Gouvernant. She then ran once more in May, when she finished fourth in the Group 3 Prix Vanteaux, which is a prep race for the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches.
“She didn’t run after the Prix Vanteaux. Already last year we knew that she could gallop but that she was delicate. She is a real miler and although she is entered in a listed over nine furlongs, won't go there. It’s too far for her. She will stay on the mile and seeing that she can go in any ground, she has many options. She is just a bit keen and has to be managed.”
4-y-o ch g New Approach – Daltaiyma
Dalshand never ran as a two-year-old, but made his three-year-old debut a winning one when he lifted a mile maiden in May last year. As the year progressed, with each of his starts, he stepped up in trip, but failed to make it back onto the podium. He was last seen in the Listed Prix Scaramouche over a mile and six furlongs, where he finished fifth behind She Is No Lady.
“He didn’t run as a two-year-old as he was too big. Then he didn’t run much last year, as he hurt himself. He is an interesting horse though. He is a real stayer and could obviously run in all of the staying races. I just have to get him back to where he was before his little problems.”
ONE FOOT IN HEAVEN
5-y-o b c Fastnet Rock – Pride
A dual Group 2 winner over the mile and a half in 2016, he was stepped up to Group 1 level on several occasions. In the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, he ran a great race to finish sixth behind Found and then ran well in Hong Kong where he finished third to Satono Crown in the Longines Hong Kong Vase. The son of Pride has already made his seasonal reappearance in the Group 2 Prix d’Harcourt, where he finished seventh behind Cloth Of Stars.
“He will without doubt run over a longer trip next time. That Sunday of the Prix d’Harcourt, the track was far too fast and I have now entered him in the Group 2 Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket in the hope that we will find a bit of a softer track for him. He can run on good ground, but I just wouldn’t like him to be injured, so I shall keep an eye on the weather. In any case, he will be campaigned over the mile and a half this season.”
5-y-o gr g Manduro – Visorama
A dual Group 1 winner over 1m 7 ½ f, he showed such a fantastic turn of foot in his races that connections were tempted to bring him back in trip. He lined up at the start of the Group 1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, but was eventually beaten 2 ½ lengths into seventh place. Following this attempt at the 1 ½ mile, he returned to his preferred distance and duly obliged in the Group 3 Prix Gladiateur. Next on the agenda was the Group 1 Prix du Cadran where he took the lead in the final stages, only to be beaten a short neck by Quest For More, who had made a late run for the line. He then lifted the Group 1 Prix Royal-Oak before shipping to Dubai where he recorded a second consecutive success in the Group 2 Dubai Gold Cup.
“This year we took him to Dubai early for a prep run, because we know that he gets better with each race. He ran a great race. This year we would like to travel with him a bit more. He came back all right from Dubai. He might run in a Group 3 (Prix de Barbeville) at the end of April, but he would have to carry a penalty there. Or he might run in the Group 2 Prix Vicomtesse Vigier on the 28th of May. He has already won this race and it is well placed in the calendar for preparing a race in England. I would like to run him in the Ascot Gold Cup, but only if it is not too hot. When it is too hot, that race takes it out of the horses and they take ages before they recover. We would like to keep Vazirabad for a long time and so he will only run if it is cool enough.”
4-y-o b c Dubawi – Zarkava
The son of the famous mare Zarkava was the yard’s main classic hope last year, but had the misfortune of being born in the same year as the subsequent champion three-year-old Almanzor. A runner-up to Almanzor in the Prix du Jockey Club and in the Prix Guillaume d’Ornano, Zarak then lost his form a bit towards the end of the season. On his seasonal reappearance in the Group 3 Dubai Millennium Stakes at Meydan, he was back in form and literally untouchable. Following that impressive performance, he was installed as the favourite of the Group 1 Dubai Turf. However, the now four-year-old never really fired that day and in the end finished fourth behind the Japanese filly Vivlos.
“Zarak was not right that day in Meydan. When I saddled him I saw that he was not in the same form he had been when he won his Group 3. It’s difficult to stay in Meydan for such a long time and train him from a distance. Zarak was just not the horse like we know him. He came back all right from Dubai and is now coming back to form. He will run in the Group 1 Prix Ganay and then we shall see.”
3-y-o b c Dansili – Altamira
Azzedine, named after the famous French fashion house, comes from the same family as four-year-old Asterina. Both horses were bred by the Wildenstein family. Azzedine is unraced, but holds entries in the Epsom Derby, as well as the Prix du Jockey Club.
“He hasn’t run yet. We bought him at the sales. We slowed him down a bit and he won’t run straight away, but we like him. I think he has some ability.”
BATTLE IN SEATTLE
3-y-o ch c Naaqoos – Boa Vinda
Battle in Seattle only joined the Alain de Royer-Dupre yard a couple of weeks ago. He used to be trained in Germany by Axel Kleinkorres, but seeing that he is French-bred, he was campaigned exclusively in France. As a two-year-old, he won his maiden on the polytrack at Deauville in December. In 2017, he made his seasonal reappearance in the Listed Prix Montenica, again on the all-weather, but this time at Chantilly. He was beaten a length by African Ride, who then finished third to 2,000 Guineas hope Al Wukair in the Prix Djebel.
“Battle in Seattle only came to my yard a few weeks ago. He was trained by a German trainer. I like this horse and I think he can do well. He was second over 6 ½ furlongs and I liked that performance. He had to come from behind and that is not easy on the polytrack. I think he can step up in category very soon.”
3-y-o ch c Dubawi – Daryakana
Devamani made his first racecourse appearance in November last year when he finished third to Glen Shiel in a maiden at Saint-Cloud. The ground was quite heavy that day, but it did not seem to bother him much. This season, he has had one start in the Prix Magister over 1m 2 ½ f again at Saint-Cloud. Ridden by Alexis Badel, he was involved in a three horse battle to the line that was eventually won by the Nicolas Clement trained Falcon Wings. Devamani finished third.
“He ran at Saint-Cloud. He finished third but that changes nothing in terms of his program. He is a horse that works really well. He is a good mover and is very pleasing to the eye. I think he has some quality. Mentally he is also quite easily to handle. He will be a horse with a lot of stamina.”
3-y-o b f Frankel – Reggane
The incredibly well-bred Rezat has not been seen on the racecourse yet. A daughter of Frankel, who needs no introduction, she is out of Group 1 winning mare Reggane. Trained by Alain de Royer-Dupré, Reggane travelled twice to England and on both occasions she finished second. A runner-up to Ghanaati in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot, she was also the runner-up to Antara in the Princess Elizabeth Stakes at Epsom. She finally won her Group 1 at Woodbine over 1 ¼ m in the E P Taylor Stakes. Rezat has entries in the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches and in the Prix de Diane Longines.
“She is a lovely filly who is coming along nicely. I like her.”
3-y-o b c Cape Cross – Sanaya
Sanabad won his maiden on the polytrack at Chantilly at the beginning of April. Unraced as a two-year-old, he was slow out of the stalls on his first start, but showed courage to finish on the podium. He used nearly all of the straight at Chantilly to get to the front from mid-position and looks like a real stayer. This race was run over 1m1 ½ f but it would not be unthinkable to see him over further in the future.
“His dam Sanaya was the runner-up in the Prix Penelope, in the Prix Cleopatre and the runner-up in the Prix Saint-Alary. She won a Group 3 in Dubai. As to Sanabad, he won the other day on the all-weather. He is quite a cold horse, who doesn’t give much and he did well on the all-weather. He will be better on turf. He is entered in the Prix du Jockey Club and he is a horse that I like.”
3-y-o b c Dalakhani – Shamiyra
First time out in November 2016, he finished third in a 1 ¼ m maiden. On his seasonal reappearance, he finished third to a very promising Plumatic in a 1m 2 ½ f maiden. As there was no pace in that race, Christophe Soumillon had taken Shakeel to the front of the race, but he was no match for the fast finishing Wertheimer on the outside.
“Shakeel was third, but he has lots of room for improvement. He is a real mile and a half horse. I like him. With these stayers we don’t have a lot of choice in terms of finding races for them. But as I said, he will improve and could be interesting. He holds entries in races like the Prix du Jockey Club and the Grand Prix de Paris.”