Patience, I was always told, is a virtue and Zabeel Prince produced the ultimate reward for that shown by his owner and trainer, as well as further bolstering the form of a race that has now worked out to an extraordinary extent, when winning the 1m1f Group 1 Prix d’Ispahan at ParisLongchamp. Newmarket’s Earl of Sefton Stakes had already thrown up future Group race winners in Lockinge hero Mustashry and Huxley Stakes victor Forest Ranger but, for the easy winner that April day at Newmarket, this was the acid test. Not that Andrea Atzeni could have felt things were going exactly to plan from the off for the Roger Varian-trained 6yo, who capped a fine 24 hours for his sire Lope De Vega following Phoenix Of Spain’s Classic success at The Curragh the previous day.
“He stumbled coming out of the stalls and I had to chase him early on for a few strides,” said Atzeni who was riding for his main employer, Sheikh Mohd Obaid. “We didn’t go too fast but he travelled nicely into the straight and did it well. “Roger has been very patient with him and he’s quite lightly raced. His form at Newmarket last time is working out brilliantly and I’m delighted for Sheikh Obaid.” Both of Zabeel Prince’s victories so far this term have now come at around the somewhat specialist distance of 1m1f but Atzeni has no doubt his future is up in trip rather than back at a mile. “I think we’ll try and go a little further with him, that has always been the plan,” said Atzeni. “When he won at Newmarket he quickened away nicely and looked like 1m2f would be his trip.
He picked up well again today and he never does a lot when he gets to the front, so I thought it was a good performance.” Earlier on the same card, Siyarafina confirmed the positive impression created in two easy wins over a mile when taking the step up in trip and class in her stride to register a straightforward length defeat of Olendon in the 1m2f Group 1 Prix Saint- Alary which is restricted to 3yo fillies. In doing so, she set up a mouthwatering showdown at Chantilly on 16 June in the Prix Diane with Hermosa who, about an hour later, landed the Irish 1000 Guineas having already won the Newmarket equivalent. Trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre was careful not to get carried away with Siyarafina’s success and confessed he hoped there would be more to come in the Diane.
“She won but I was perhaps hoping for a little bit more,” said Royer-Dupre. “It was the first time she has tried the trip and it is four weeks since she ran, so perhaps she was a little short of condition. “She showed she stays but if I’m being very critical she was perhaps a tiny bit less fluid in her movement. This race might well bring her on in terms of condition for three weeks.” Sheikh Mohd Obaid’s Imperial Charm ran another solid race in third following her fourth place in the French 1000 Guineas behind Castle Lady. “I’m delighted with her and she has run the same honest race as always,” said Simon Crisford. “She’s vulnerable to those late closers but she has run a super