Makfi Springs 33/1 Surprise in 2000 Guineas
1 (15) Makfi 33/1
All the talk before today’s StanJames.com 2000 Guineas was of St Nicholas Abbey, who was sent off Evens favourite for the Classic, but he could finish only sixth as a new star emerged on the Rowley Mile in French raider Makfi who stormed to a length and a quarter victory at odds of 33/1.
“It’s amazing - I can’t believe it. The owner wanted a Dubawi and I went to Tattersalls and found him - he was a good-looking horse. We were just lucky buying him, we didn’t know much about him beforehand and went there with a budget of 30,000 guineas,” said 39-year-old Delzangles.
“We were waiting for the Prix Djebel to see whether to come here. We had an idea, as they say in French “derriere a la tete”, so we went for that race. He had run twice on soft ground but there were no reasons why he wouldn’t go on good ground. I was hoping that he would run very well and that he would finish in the first five.
“I think that he has proved that he is very good now and we might come back to England for the St James’s Palace Stakes. The French Guineas is only two weeks away and it’s a short time for a horse who has run only three times.
“In the morning he doesn’t show much but the way he won his first race so easily and the way he behaved - he is a very quiet horse, very cold, but he can quicken. He’s a very easy horse to train, he’s got a good temperament.
“I have great memories of my time in England when I worked for Jimmy FitzGerald in 1989.”
Jockey Christophe Lemaire added: “It’s very pleasant. He won well last time but we were worried about his lack of experience. He won very well last time - when he won in two strides - and his conditions had improved since then. He travelled very well all of the way and, when we had the gap, he really kicked and had a very good turn of foot. He’s a top class horse. The good horses go in every ground and I was not worried about the going today.
“In the early part of the race I just sat behind Johnny (Murtagh on St Nicholas Abbey) and was happy with my position. At the three-furlong marker I could see that Johnny was not travelling well and when I got a gap I kicked on and he accelerated very strongly.
“He doesn’t have much experience and I think he has some more improvement. I have had many big successes at this racecourse, I feel very comfortable at this track although I’ve been lucky to ride some good horses here. The atmosphere is very special here, it’s the birthplace of horseracing.”
Makfi’s Paris-based owner Matthieu Offenstadt has seven horses in training. He added: “For a small owner like me it’s hard to buy yearlings so we went to Newmarket sales and I wanted to buy a Dubawi. We saw him and thought he had a nice head. I hoped he might win a maiden but this is really just a dream.”
TURPIN SEES OFF CANFORD IN STABLE DUEL
Richard Hannon saddled Dick Turpin and Canford Cliffs to finish second and third behind French raider Makfi in the first Classic of the season, the Group One StanJames.com 2000 Guineas.
Dick Turpin (16/1), who had caused a minor shock when defeating Canford Cliffs in the Group Three Greenham Stakes at Newbury on April 17, was half a length superior to his stable companion but a length and a quarter inferior to the impressive winner.
Hannon, who has won the StanJames.com 2000 Guineas previously with Mon Fils (1973), Don’t Forget Me (1987) and Tirol (1990), commented: “Dick Turpin looked super walking round here - there’s not a bother on him, he’s a good horse. Both horses ran super races, I’m pleased with them both.
“I said after Newbury when they were first and second in the Greenham that we probably had two very good horses.”
Canford Cliffs, the impressive winner of the Group Two Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot last term, was sent off a 12/1 shot under Richard Hughes.
Hannon continued: “Hughesie said the dip did him. If there had been a bit more give in the ground, maybe he would have handled it better.
“A furlong and a half out I thought he had won it - he was travelling really good.”
Clive Cox was delighted with fourth Xtension, who had finished third in the Group One Darley Dewhurst Stakes here in October.
The trainer said: “We’re very much delighted with that performance on his seasonal debut. Adam (Kirby) reported that the horse, naturally, felt a lot stronger today.
“We’ve got all the top mile races covered so we will have a look. If the ground is ok, then perhaps he will go for the Irish 2,000 Guineas. If the ground is not too soft, we will consider it but first we will see how is after this.”
William Buick, on 12th placed Lord Zenith, said: “He ran as expected. He’s a nice horse and he’ll be a nice horse in Group Three company.”
Richard Hills rider of 15th Awzaan said: “He just didn’t perform for whatever reason. I can’t give an opinion on stamina or anything. We will have to get him home and start again. It’s the start of the year and he’s a Group One winner, we’ll be back.”
Steve Drowne, rider of last Elspeth Boy, said: “He was just a bit fresh and may not have stayed in that class.”
Eddie Ahern jockey of the fifth Elusive PimperneI, said: “I suppose drawn one and off a slow pace it just didn’t suit him. They quickened up and went away from me. A faster gallop and a longer trip maybe. I think a mile and a quarter would be the next step.”
Jamie Spencer, rider of 17th Audacity Of Hope, said: “ I’m a bit disappointed about that. He lost a shoe.”
Ahmed Ajtebi on 14th Buzzword, said: “I’m happy with him. With three to go I felt that we would win but he didn’t come out of the dip. He had a hard season last year, running in France and America and it was a tough race today. I think he will win a Group race later in the year.”
Aidan O’Brien, trainer of the red-hot Evens favourite St Nicholas Abbey who finished sixth, said: “I suppose that we would have been delighted to see an even, strong-run race. Johnny said that he jumped in and ideally we would have been happier just to take our time - he said that they did a canter to halfway.
“That’s not taking away from the winner or any other horse in the race. Ideally for this horse, he would have liked an evenly run mile because we were using this as a stepping stone from here to Epsom.
“We trained him all year with Classics in mind. It would have been easy for us to go for a Derby trial but he was working so well and his times were very good at home - they were as good as all of the milers that we have had.
“When you come to a Classic like this, usually they go a pace but we didn’t put in anything to go an even pace in front, which we often do. They hacked to halfway and it will be interesting to see what the times say - Johnny said that they just hacked to halfway and then sprinted.
“St Nicholas Abbey started staying on again at the end. We weren’t winding him up for a mile because we had to think about the rest of the year for him. He is a horse with naturally quick speed and Johnny didn’t want to light him up too much.
“It just didn’t work today but we are happy with the horse.”
Johnny Murtagh, rider of St Nicholas Abbey, blamed a slow early pace for his mount’s defeat. He said: “There was no pace. We jumped out and hacked to the two-furlong marker. I followed Ryan Moore (on Dick Turpin) and he finished second. My mount just stayed on.”
Frankie Dettori talked about Al Zir, ninth in the StanJames.com 2000 Guineas: “It was a good run from him. A mile was too short - they have outsprinted him. He wants further.”
Saeed bin Suroor, Al Zir’s trainer, declared: “It was a disappointing result but I think he will be better in the second half of the season.”
Eddie Ahern, who partnered the fifth Elusive Pimpernel, said: “I was waiting for him to pick up and he didn’t show the acceleration he is capable of. It was the slow pace which did not suit him. I would have preferred a faster-run race where he could have come from off the pace.”
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