Alain de Royer Dupré has trained some unforgettable champions in his career and this season all eyes are focused on Zarkamiya, the incredibly well-bred daughter of Frankel and Zarkava.
A winner on her debut in April this year, many good things are expected from her, and while her trainer is currently still a bit reluctant, which is understandable, to offer his thoughts on her future, there is no denying that there is some excitement in the air.
A successful trip to Dubai with Vazirabad has him once more dreaming about the Ascot Gold Cup, as well as the Goodwood Cup, so there is good chance he will be travelling back and forth the Channel this season.
The Chantilly-based handler, who looks after the majority of the HH Aga Khan-owned and bred thoroughbreds, also trains for a variety of other owners and recently received a sprinter from South Africa he is quite excited about.
“I don’t ever train sprinters,” he laughs. “So, this is very amusing for me. Her name is Brave Mary and she really is a nice little character who I look forward to training.”
Here, Alain de Royer Dupré guides Liz Price of attheraces.com through his team for 2018.
6-y-o b g Manduro – Visorama
The first horse to win three consecutive Dubai Gold Cups at Meydan, Vazirabad continues to be one of the most successful stayers in Europe. His last victory in Dubai was very convincing and if everything goes well, he will be campaigned in all the big staying races in Britain this summer.
“He suffered a little problem during the race in Dubai where some horse must have touched him, but he is fine now and has started working. In principle, he will be making his French seasonal debut in the Prix Vicomtesse Vigier and then, why not the Gold Cup providing it is not too hot. We already attempted it last year, but then he suffered a little injury. If he is well, this is the year to do it. If we have him as good as he was in Dubai, we will have to try it. By the way, when I talk about the weather, I don’t mean the ground. I just think that running over 4000 metres twice up that hill at Ascot in hot weather is not a great idea. So, we shall see what the weather does. And then he could go to Goodwood, where I think he would really like the track.”
5-y-o ch g Lope de Vega – Diamond Tango
Has won one race in four starts as a three-year-old. He never ran at four.
“He was the runner-up in a Group 3 race at three and then had a leg injury. He likes soft ground and he is a stayer. He can run over a mile and a half and further. He can really gallop and he could be interesting.”
4-y-o gr g Redoute’s Choice – Ashalanda
Very lightly raced. Only ran twice last year. He won his first race on his third star over 1m 3½f. This year, he made his seasonal reappearance in a conditions race on the Chantilly Polytrack where he finished third to Heshem.
“He is a very late developer, like all of the Redoute’s Choice progeny, but he has some class. He wasn’t an easy horse to deal with and that is why he was gelded. He will run in a little race at Saint-Cloud on May 8th, but I think he can run in a Listed or a Group race over a mile and a half. He can go on any ground.”
4-y-o b f Sea The Stars – Balankiya
After winning her maiden on her first start, she was immediately stepped up in class, but so far hasn’t managed to make any notable impression. Campaigned over 1m4f, she has won on good ground and was last seen finishing last to The Juliet Rose in the Group 2 Prix de Royallieu.
“This is a filly we like. Last year she won a class ‘A’ race and she is going to have her first start of the season very soon. She runs over the mile and a half and even further. She beat the Andre Fabre-trained Casterton last year, who has just won a Listed race at ParisLongchamp. She is a very big, but light filly who has had a few problems. She has a goat with her in the box to keep her calm. She wouldn’t like it too soft or heavy.”
4-y-o b f Sinndar – Clariyn
She only ran three times as a three-year-old and was never out of the first three. She finished her 2017 with a second place in the Group 3 Prix Minerve at Deauville. A real stayer, she made her seasonal reappearance in the Listed Prix Gold River over 1m6f, where she finished sixth.
“She has not run very often. She was a runner-up in the Prix Minerve last year, but she is a bit delicate. She had problems in the stalls, in fact everywhere, but she has some class. She is a real 1½ m horse. She can go in very soft ground. In the Prix Gold River there was no pace, which didn’t suit her. She will make a real autumn filly, as she likes it very soft.”
4-y-o ch f Rock of Gibraltar – Daltama
Extremely consistent in handicap company, she has rarely been out of the first three. She really came into her own once she dropped back in trip, but seems to be able to cover everything from 7 furlongs up to a mile. She was the runner-up to Nice To See You in a Listed race at the end of last year.
“This is a filly who can run over 7 furlongs up to a mile. She wouldn’t stay further. She was the runner-up in a Listed race at the end of last season. She likes soft ground. I will wait with her a little bit longer. She needs to be ready and she isn’t quite there yet. I think she is real autumn filly. She has a great pedigree. We like her, but she had to go the handicap route as she was very keen and we just couldn’t get her to settle. Now she is more settled.”
4-y-o b f Raven’s Pass – Raydiya
She has only run twice. A winner on her debut over a mile at Chantilly in May last year, she then had a break until October, when she finished third in a conditions race at Deauville.
“We like this filly. She hasn’t run much. I don’t know if we will manage to get her to the track as she is very delicate, but she is good. She won her maiden and then she was fourth at Deauville. But she has some class and could be interesting. I think she could run over the mile up to a mile and a quarter. I don’t know what ground she would like. She won on good ground, but I don’t know if she needs it.”
Three year olds
3-y-o bl c Lawman – Ashalanda
Made his debut at Saint-Cloud in a 1m 4f maiden where he still ran a bit green. He missed the start and then quickened in the straight before fading when left on his own.
“He is such a big horse who still needs to understand what it is all about. He seems capable. He is very strong, very heavy. That is why he hasn’t run before. He needed some time. He is going to run over 1 ½m. He is the brother of Ashutor, it’s a family with lots of stamina.”
3-y-o b c Redoute’s Choice – Balankiya
He won on his debut at Lyon. Very green, he missed the start, then got carried wide in the left-hand bend but once he understood what was asked of him, he quickened nicely to win quite easily.
“He has just won at Lyon. He surprised us in a good way. He really accelerated. He was born late, in May, so there is some margin to get better. He gets his speed from the dam’s side. He has a bit of character, so either he will tell us that he loves running or that he is not interested. We shall see. I think he’ll prefer better ground.”
3-y-o b f Medicean – Balankiyla
“She hasn’t run yet, but she works well. She still needs to mature a bit but I think she will run in the next couple of weeks. Physically, she is well made and I know her family very well. She comes from the family of Bayrir who won the Secretariat Stakes, they are very good horses.”
3-y-o gr f Siyouni – Darbaza
A winner on her debut, she ran twice as a two-year-old and made her seasonal reappearance in the Prix d’Escoville over a mile. The ground was heavy that day and she only just missed out on victory when Zanzi Win got his head in front.
“She ran as a two-year-old and came back nicely the other day. The winner was ridden by a girl who had a weight allowance of 4 kilos, which made all the difference. I think she can run in a Listed or Group 3 race. I wouldn’t run her on firm ground, I think she wants it soft.”
3-y-o b f Azamour – Shanndiyra
Beaten into second place on her debut last year, she made a winning reappearance at Saint-Cloud this year, where she won the Prix la Troienne by an impressive four lengths. She has entries in the Prix Saint-Alary and the Prix de Diane Longines.
“She is one of our good fillies. She won her race very easily and now she is running the Prix de la Seine next Sunday. It’s a Listed race and then we shall see if we go for the Saint-Alary or elsewhere. She is a very good-looking filly who is very easy to train. She has a lot quality. She has a long acceleration which means she should like Chantilly. She won in soft ground the other day, but I think she prefers good ground.”
3-y-o b f Frankel – Zarkava
Much was expected of this beautifully-bred filly and she did not disappoint when she scored on her debut in a mile race at ParisLongchamp.
“She won on her debut and now we have to see. She will run a class ‘A’ race over the same distance and course of the Prix de Diane at Chantilly and then we shall see if she can step up in class. She won well the other day and didn’t have a tough race, but Longchamp and Chantilly are not the same racecourses.
She has a lot of blood, like her sire and dam. At the moment, we have her quite calm, she was all right the other day. If she stays like that, it would be great. If she didn’t have that much energy, I would work her to and run her in the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches, but I don’t want to take the risk. I don’t want her ruined. At the moment, she is beautiful and calm and I don’t want that to change.”
3-y-o b f Brave Tin Soldier – Mary Lou
She is a Group 1 winner in South Africa where she won the 6-furlong Allan Robertson Championship at Scottsville.
“She has won Group 1 races over the sprint distance. She is a very nice filly. We shall see. She needs to get used to her new surroundings. I have only had her for a couple of months. She had to go to Mauritius first before coming here, so she will still need some time. But she comes from a good yard, as she is very endearing. When you see her, she is very cute. I have never had a real sprinter, so that is very amusing for me. She wants good ground, obviously.”
3-y-o b f Muhtathir – Jacira
She never ran as a two-year-old but has already run twice this year. She was the runner-up on both of her starts in the provinces. Both times she ran over 1 ¼ m.
“She has the same name as my wife and hence she is obviously very nice. No, joking apart, she finished second on her debut but she shows some quality. She is good looking and she has a lot of speed. And this is important, after all, when I run after her she is faster than me and that is a good sign!”
3-y-o b c Frankel – Cast In Gold
“He showed us something, but we haven’t managed to get him ready yet. So, the big races are coming too quick for him.”