Circus Maximus narrowly denied Romanised a big French double in a thrilling outcome to the Prix du Moulin at ParisLongchamp – a result that is set to be appealed by connections of the runner-up.
Something of a surprise winner of the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot in June after finishing sixth in the Derby, since then Circus Maximus has finished second in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood before failing to see out 10 furlongs at York.
Back over a mile this time, he looked much more at home and travelled into the race well under Ryan Moore.
Entering the final furlong it was clear the two Irish raiders were going better than anything else, as Marois winner Romanised and Billy Lee joined Circus Maximus at the head of affairs.
In the final 50 yards Circus Maximus just began to get on top, with Aidan O’Brien’s colt running on gamely from the Ken Condon-trained Romanised, although the winner did drift left into the runner-up for a few strides in the closing stages.
That prompted the stewards to call an inquiry, but it was not long before the placings were confirmed – despite the winning distance only being a nose.
Condon said: “We’re going to appeal, the owner (Robert Ng) has reviewed the footage at home in Hong Kong and has spoken to me directly.
“He’s expressed his wish to appeal after seeing the visual evidence. We think we’ve got a good case.
“The owner has looked at it several times and that is what he wants to do. He (Circus Maximus) does come across and you’re talking about a nose at the end of the day. It certainly warrants looking at again.
“They announced the result quick, which is their prerogative, but it’s Mr Ng’s prerogative to have it looked at again which is what we’ll do.”
As for the race Condon was proud of his stable star.
“He ran very well, travelled great and was fighting back at the line,” he said.
“That will be him for the season, he’ll have a break over the winter because he stays in training next season, when I imagine we’ll be looking at the same races, starting in the Lockinge.
“If he’s in similar form we should have plenty of fun.”
Moore told Sky Sports Racing he felt “the best horse on the day” had won.
He said: “I think he was the best horse on the day, he was always holding the second horse and I think he had a bit more in the tank if I’m honest.
“He’s obviously well suited to a mile, there were six Group One winners in the race today and you’d have to be happy with what he’s done.
“He’s won a St James’s Palace and ran a very good race in the Sussex, it’s clear his best form is at a mile.
“We had a nice slot, but we were probably in front long enough.”
Looking to future plans, Alan Cooper, racing manager for the Niarchos family, who own Circus Maximus in partnership with Coolmore, said: “Donnacha’s (O’Brien) immediate reaction after York was that he simply didn’t stay 10 furlongs, so it wasn’t a tough decision to come back to a mile.
“He’s got a lovely attitude and his record now, with the St James’s Palace, the Sussex Stakes and now today shows that a mile is the right trip for him, so more congrats to the Ballydoyle team.
“Obviously the Breeders’ Cup could be on the cards, but I don’t know exactly because we are just enjoying today first of all and then we’ll make a plan.
“We’ll see what Aidan feels when he gets home and take it from there, the other obvious option is the QEII at Ascot – we’ll see what Aidan wants to do.”
Charlie Appleby’s Line Of Duty ran another good race just behind the principals in third.