Culdeen prepares for a break, while Connections tries to get to the bottom of its underwhelming performance at the Prix Jean Prat.
Andrew Balding’s 2000 Guineas hero Deauville was on the way back to a Group One trip after suffering defeat at the hands of Paddington in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.
However, despite traveling with his usual gusto at close to Oisin Murphy’s hand pace, the Classic failed to pick up the winner and his challenge faded as Fabrice Chapet’s Good Guess went on to become a convincing winner.
The Frankel colt will now be thoroughly examined to see if there is a physical reason for his poor performance or whether a busy early season has taken its toll on the Jadmonte-owned colt.
“It was clearly not a real horse race,” said Barry Mahon, the owners’ European racing manager. “But we will have to wait until the horse gets home and do a full examination to see if there is anything there or whether he ran hard at Ascot and was absolutely flat.
“In all known forms this was not his true race and we will just have to see if anything comes to light.
“I think he needs to take a break now. Whether there is something underlying or it turns out that he has failed, we will have to wait and see, but I think he needs a break now to freshen up.” Will be needed back end of the year.”
There are still a number of major race options open to him when Culdeen returns, including a trip to the Breeders’ Cup later in the season.
Mahon said: “There are a lot of races for him. There is the Prix Jacques Le Marois (13 August), the race at Ascot on Champions Day (Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, 21 October) and the Breeders’ Cup Mile (4 November), so a lot for him.” There will be all opportunities.
“I always thought the Breeders’ Cup would be a good fit for him, especially this year at Santa Anita, but we’ll have to see. We’ll get him checked out first and we know that wasn’t his real race.”
King George remains option for Westover
However, there was some joy for the owners this weekend as Ralph Beckett’s Westover enjoyed a more successful venture in France to take his second Group One in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud.
Last year’s Irish Derby winner had run well so far this season to finish second after defeats in both the Dubai Sheema Classic and Coronation Cup, but produced a fine performance to open his four-year-old account.
Mahon said “behind Equinox had a good start to the season and had a great run in the Coronation and now it’s nice to get a Group One at Saint-Cloud and make him a double Group One winner.”
“Breaking the track record was a special achievement when you consider that so many great champions have won that race over the years.”
Westover has fielded an entry for the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Kipko Stakes at Ascot on 29 July and although he will remain high in the connection’s thoughts, there is a chance he could come very soon after his gallant efforts at Paris Suburbs.
Mahon continued, “I was speaking to Ralph last night and we said we would definitely keep it (King George) under consideration.”
“He had a tough race on Saturday – you can’t break a track record without a tough race – and there’s not a huge amount of time between now and the King George. It will depend a lot on the horse’s well-being and we’ll let the horse tell us .
“He’s in everything and he’s got options everywhere. He could go in an Irish Leger (September 10), he could go in an Arc (October 1), he could go in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (November 4). He might even go to Hong Kong and he’s into everything. He’s there to enjoy and we’ll see what Prince Khalid’s family wants to do and see as we go along.
“He’s more mature now mentally and physically and he’s a good traveller. He’s adaptable in the races which is great and we think he’s trending upwards.”