Dubai: Godolphin’s Victor Ludorum emulated his father, the great Shamardal, to win the Group 1 Poule d’Essai des Poulains (French 2,000 Guineas) and kickstart what can potentially be an epic week for the Dubai-owned stable.
On a day when flat-racing finally resumed in UK after a 67-day break due to the coronavirus pandemic, Mickael Barzalona teamed up with the legendary handler Andre Fabre at Deauville, France to seal an effortless 1 ½ length victory over the Summit, with Alson a neck back in third.
The win was Godolphin’s fifth in the 1,600 metre contest and also brought up a fifth Group 1 victory for the globe-trotting stable in 2020.
The Poule d’Essai des Poulains is traditionally staged at Longchamp in Paris, but due to the ban on sporting activities in ‘red zones,’ the Classic was moved to Normandy. It was only the third time in history that the blue riband was being held outside its home course.
Monday was a holiday in France but racing was held behind closed doors and under the strictist guidelines with jockeys wearing protection masks during races and social distancing practices in place for all handlers, stable staff and trainers.
Victor Ludorum’s victory was an emotional moment for Fabre, who 33 years ago gifted His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai a first-ever French 2000 Guineas victory with Soviet Star, a son of the champion American sire Nureyev.
It was also the 75-year-old Frenchman’s eighth career victory in the race and saw him overtake Francois Mathet as the most successful modern trainer in the race.
Victor Ludorum was beaten on his seasonal bow at Longchamp three weeks ago but showed that he needed that run with a far superior performance on Monday.
Barzalona settled his mount at the back of the nine-runner field and allowed him to settle into a rhythm before Victor Ludorum moved into contention up the stands’ rail.
Looking supremely confident, Barzalona asked his mount for his effort and the response was immediate as he moved into top gear and comfortably eased past the field.
Godolphin, the stable created by Sheikh Mohammed in 1992, previously won the French Guineas with Persian King (2019), Shamardal (2005), Bachir (2000) and Vettori (1995).
Meanwhile, Maxime Guyon rode an absolute blinder aboard Dream And Do to win the in the Emirates Poule d’Essai des Pouliches (1,000 Guineas) by the proverbial whisker from Speak of the Devil, the mount of Christian Demuro.
Fabre was looking to complete a Classic double on Monday but Tropbeau could not match the front pair for pace and finished fourth.
Back at Newcastle Racecourse in the UK, trainer Roger Fell helped himself to a piece of history as he saddled a 1-2 in the first race that marked British racing’s return following the coronavirus shutdown.
The race was won by 22/1 outsider Zodiakos ridden by James Sullivan, with stablemate Al Ozzdi second in the Betway Welcome Back British Racing Handicap.