French Guineas at ParisLongchamp: Rouhiya holds off Kathmandu in 1000, Dancing Gemini denied by Metropolitan in 2000

French Guineas at ParisLongchamp: Rouhiya holds off Kathmandu in 1000, Dancing Gemini denied by Metropolitan in 2000

There was a thrilling finish in the French 1000 Guineas as Rouhiya gave Maxime Guyon his second victory in the French Classic for trainer Francis-Henri Graffard.

Kathmandu was agonisingly denied Emirates Poule d’Essai des Pouliches glory as Rouhiya pulled out extra to ensure the Classic prize remained on home soil at ParisLongchamp.

Taken back by Guyon to track the pace set by Brian Meehan’s Kathmandu in the early stages, the winner picked up well when asked to win her race as the action developed, threading the eye of the needle to strike in the dying strides.

Having led from the moment the gates opened, it was despair for the Sean Levey-ridden Kathmandu who had to settle for a silver medal, while Willie McCreery’s Vespertilio ran a fine race to pick up the final spot on the podium.

William Buick had sent Charlie Appleby’s Romantic Style forward from a wide draw and she was also involved in the finish, coming home in fourth.

Owned by the Aga Khan, the winner was much improved on her previous outing over the track and trip in April, making rapid strides in her first race at the highest level.

“Francis had said last year she was the Guineas filly for him, but then the going was appalling this year,” Princess Zahra Aga Khan told Sky Sports Racing.

“She galloped on Monday and did so well, she had such a great gallop we thought ‘do we run in the Listed race on Saturday or the Group One on Sunday’ and we thought ‘what the heck’. She is going to stay in our broodmare band anyway, so we may as well find out what she can do. I think we just saw what she can do!

Maxime Guyon celebrates winning the French 1000 Guineas on board Rouhiya

“It was unbelievable and I’m still shaking. We knew she had ability, but you can never know she is going to do what she did.

“Maxime gave her a fantastic ride and it’s great to see her family come back as it has been a few generations.

“I’m going to have to ask Francis [about the future] but right now it does not matter, this is great.”

For Meehan it was the second successive year he has experienced last-gasp heartache in the French capital as his wait for an elusive Classic winner goes on.

Isaac Shelby was beaten by the barest margin in the equivalent race for the colts last year and Kathmandu could now be set for a drop back in trip as she searches for compensation at Royal Ascot.

“It’s tough and she has run such an incredible race,” said Meehan.

“All credit to the team at home and here with her, the owners Ed Babbington and Sam Sangster let me put her in the Guineas in the spring and she’s a wonderful filly – a Group One filly – and I thought Sean gave her an outstanding ride.

“It’s heart-breaking and it’s about the seventh Classic-placed horse I’ve had now – it’s becoming annoying.

“She’s run beautifully, she’s a stunning filly and there’s so much to love about her, we’re going to have a great time with her for sure.

“She definitely gets a mile, but whether she was on the limit of her stamina here today – and Sean felt that – so we will see. Maybe the Jersey Stakes at Ascot but we will see. There is so much we can do with her during the summer and have a lot of fun.”

Metropolitan wins  Emirates Poule d'Essai des Poulains Gr.1  at ParisLongchamp
Metropolitan lands the French 2000 Guineas at ParisLongchamp in a power-packed finish

Dancing Gemini denied Classic crown by Metropolitan

Dancing Gemini’s fast-finishing effort was in vain as Metropolitan and Alexis Pouchin caused a shock in the Emirates Poule d’Essai des Poulains.

Trained by Mario Baratti, the son of Zarak charted a course close to the pace set by John and Thady Gosden’s Orne, and from his position on the far rail was in the perfect spot to make his charge for home in the closing stages.

Roger Teal’s Dancing Gemini emerged from the pack to lay down a strong challenge late in the day but Metropolitan was finishing just as strongly, pulling out extra when it mattered most to seal the victory.

Aidan O’Brien’s Henry Longfellow was sent off favourite but was never a factor, with Diego Velazquez finishing best of the Ballydoyle pair in fourth. Having been up with the pace throughout, Andre Fabre’s Alcantor was third.

It was a bittersweet result for Teal, who although agonisingly denied in his quest to secure a first Classic, can take comfort in the fact he has a top-class performer to look forward to in Dancing Gemini.

Alexis Pouchin celebrates winning the French 2000 Guineas
Alexis Pouchin celebrates as he passes the post on Metropolitan in the French 2000 Guineas

The Camelot colt holds entries for both the Betfred Derby at Epsom and the Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly a day later and the handler admits he has plenty to ponder over the coming days.

Teal said: “He ran a blinder and we’ve always had confidence in him – thank God he’s backed us up today.

“I thought we were going to get there and he’s done everything right, the winner just got a few lengths on us turning in and got a good run up the rail. Dancing Gemini was getting there and he went down on his sword.

“He hasn’t had a prep run and will benefit for this race. If he can come forward from this, then you would like to think there is a big day in him.

“We’re going to have to have a chat and he’s in both the English and French Derby. He’s bred to stay, but he’s also got a lot of speed, he’s got a good kick. We’ll let the dust settle, have a chat and see which way we want to head.”

Meanwhile, Royal Ascot could be on the agenda for the winner Metropolitan having secured Classic honours.

“I’ve been at this a long time and have had some good horses, but a day like today is unimaginable,” part-owner Peter Bradley told Sky Sports Racing.

“You will have to talk to the trainer, but someone mentioned Royal Ascot if he wins – it’s possible and we will see how he comes out of this race.

“We knew we had a very good horse and I think he proved he is a champion.”

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