Danehill (Inge Thalund)

The opening Group One race of the European season (the Prix Ganay) at Lonchamps, witnessed another winner at the highest level for the imperious Danehill. Duke of Marmalade a close relative of Al Mufti, battled home a half length winner of this time-honoured event, securing back-to-back renewals of the race for the Coolmore outfit.

The Times reports that Johnny Murtagh was seen at his strongest as Duke Of Marmalade landed the first group one win of his career in the Prix Ganay at Longchamp on Sunday.

Aidan O’Brien, his trainer, won the extended ten-furlong event with Dylan Thomas last year and the Coolmore team will be hoping the four-year-old can emulate his former stable companion, who went on to win numerous big races last summer.

Johnny Murtagh kicked his mount into the lead two furlongs out and despite the German raider Saddex looking a big danger, he held off the runner-up’s late challenge. Zambezi Sun, the favourite, trailed home well in arrears.

Duke Of Marmalade is set to follow the same route as Dylan Thomas, with Aidan O’Brien pencilling in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh on May 25 for his next race. He said: “He was operated on at the beginning of the year and he has been working so much better since then and has been very pleasing in all his work.

“He may run in the Tattersalls Gold Cup now and obviously he is very versatile as he can go between a mile and a mile and three furlongs.”

Coral responded to Duke Of Marmalade’s success by cutting him to 8-1 (from 16-1) for the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot, while he is now 10-1 (from 25-1) for the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

Mike de Kock has set his sights on Royal Ascot after Archipenko won the Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Sha Tin.

As we’ve so often “banged on” in this column, you ignore Danehill at your peril!