Tuesday 16 September 2008
Onlookers at Longchamp were stunned into silence by the sheer brilliance of ZARKAVA’s performance to win the Prix Vermeille. The winner of the Prix Marcel Boussac, Poule d’Essai des Pouliches and Prix de Diane was attempting the distance of a mile and a half for the first time in this Group 1 contest, and making a return to competition after a break of over three months.
The filly was slow to leave the stalls, a fact which trainer Alain de Royer Dupré felt could be explained by her losing concentration due to the presence in the next-door stall of a filly wearing a thick Monty Roberts-style blanket. Christophe Soumillon did not hurry his partner to rejoin the pack and she remained in last position until into the straight when she changed gear and flew past the entire field to score comfortably by two lengths.
After the race, HH Aga Khan praised the skill and patience of Christophe Soumillon and paid tribute to his “exceptional filly” before adding, “We know now that with maturity she needs at least 2000 metres or further to show her best.”
A radiant Soumillon said, “It is almost unreal to see a horse accelerate from so far off the pace like that. The plan was not to give her a hard race but we equalled the record today so we weren’t hanging around.”
ZARKAVA now heads for the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on 5th October as a worthy favourite to retain her unbeaten record for a seventh consecutive race.
KATIYRA, another three-year-old filly belonging to HH Aga Khan, also booked her ticket to Longchamp this weekend with victory in the Blandford Stakes at The Curragh. The Epsom Oaks third was following in the footsteps of the same owner’s Four Sins (Sinndar) who lifted this Gr 2 prize last year and she is now to be aimed at the Gr 1 Prix de l’Opéra.
Updated on 16/09/2008