By Liz Price
Fresh from having scored a valuable Group 1 victory at Newmarket last weekend when the Andre Fabre-trained Earthlight turned out too powerful for the British opposition in probably one of the best renewals of the Middle Park Stakes, Godolphin jockey Mickaël Barzalona is hoping to extend his winning streak to this weekend’s Arc card at ParisLongchamp.
Until Tuesday morning, it wasn’t clear yet if MUSIS AMICA, one of the most exciting fillies last year who was beaten only a neck by Laurens in the Prix de Diane Longines 2018, was going to run in the Arc or in the Prix de Royallieu. However, by Tuesday lunchtime, Musis Amica no longer featured on the Arc list and will now have to be supplemented for the 1m 6f Prix de Royallieu, a fillies and mares only race.
Watch the 2019 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe live on Sky Sports Racing (Sky 415 | Virgin 535) on Sunday 6th October.
“Musis Amica ran really well in the Prix Vermeille,” says Barzalona, who is enjoying a very successful season and has already ridden more than 100 winners in France this year.
“She took a little while to come back to form this year. She had a late start to the season and things didn’t work out in Deauville, but in the Vermeille I really had the impression that the old Musis Amica, from the very good three-year-old season, was back. She finished her race really well, just like she used to do as a three-year-old. So I am very excited to ride her this weekend in the Prix de Royallieu. She is very versatile and even though she has never run over this trip, I have no concerns about her stamina. I think this is a great opportunity for her.”
Musis Amica, who was very unlucky in last year’s Poule d’Essai des Pouliches and only just missed out on a Group 1 victory in the Prix de Diane Longines, certainly looked back to her best when she was the runner-up to Star Catcher in the Prix Vermeille and certainly deserves to take her chance in this newly promoted Group 1 race.
In any case, Barzalona doesn’t seem to regret the fact that she is not lining up at the start of the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. But then, he has the Czech raider NAGANO GOLD to look forward to.
“We all want to win the Arc, but most of us will be riding for places this year,” he laughs. “It’s a proper Arc with proper horses but Enable looks very difficult to beat. The ground will play its part, but it’s a really competitive field and there should be no bad luck stories. Nagano Gold has never run in a Group 1 race, so this is a step up in class for him. But he deserves to line up here, as he is very consistent.
“I won with him at Longchamp in April over this trip and he certainly didn’t do anything wrong at Ascot in the Hardwicke Stakes. Quite the opposite actually. He is horse who needs to relax in a race, otherwise he pulls too hard. But I’m not too worried about it in the Arc, as we have horses like Kiseki and Ghaiyyati who should set a good pace. As I said, he is a super horse, who has improved and has done everything right. Now he just has to prove himself in this company.”
The Arc is obviously the highlight of the card at ParisLongchamp this weekend, but Barzalona will be very busy on both days. In fact, he is hoping for some more success with a couple of Andre Fabre-trained two-year-olds, including VICTOR LUDORUM who is going to line up at the start of the Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardère. Like Earthlight, Victor Ludorum is a son of Shamardal, but where Earthlight is all about speed, Victor Ludorum has already won over the mile.
“He is a very nice colt who won really well on his debut at Longchamp,” confirms his jockey.
“He then ran again in order to gain some experience in view of the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardère. He won that race, too. Quite easily in fact, even though he was a bit outpaced at the start of the race. He finished really well, very easily. I am very happy with him. Now he has to compete against horses that have already won Group races.”
He pauses and adds: “He will be a great three-year-old. He could already run over the longer trip now. I think he will be able to handle soft ground.”
It is definitely all about the two-year-olds for Godolphin this year, in France as well as in England, and BIONIC WOMAN is another youngster who could light up the sky for the boys in blue in the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac.
Only just beaten on her debut in Deauville in the summer, she then won a seven-furlong maiden at Saint-Cloud in a very pleasing manner and Barzalona says: “She was beaten on her debut by a more experienced filly. But it was a very good performance and she confirmed that she has some talent when she won her maiden at Saint-Cloud. She did it nicely that day. She is a very expressive filly. She is already very mature, so we shall see how she will do in that company.”
Mickaël Barzalona, who will be forever remembered for his celebration in the 2011 Epsom Derby that he lifted with the Andre Fabre-trained Pour Moi, is going to be very busy this weekend and is likely to pick up some more rides, like the Fabrice Chappet trained promising two-year-old filly Secret Time, who looks a serious candidate for the Criterium de la Vente d’Octobre Arqana, a Class 1 race on Saturday.
There is also a chance that he could partner Terebellum once more should John Gosden have several runners in the Prix de l’Opera. “Some things are still in the air,” concludes Barzalona, who was the leading jockey in Deauville this summer.
“In any case, my season has been great so far and the Arc weekend is extremely exciting. I have been riding some seriously good horses this year, which is just great. Now I just hope it will continue way into the autumn.”