Click above to watch a Valyra winning the Prix de Diane Longines (Gr1)…
(Image : Features - Footage : Equidia)
PRIX DE DIANE (Group 1)
Chantilly, Turf, 2100m
17 June 2012
His Highness The Aga Khan’s tally of winners in the G1 Prix de Diane stood at a record-equaling six prior to yesterday’s renewal at Chantilly, and the supplemented Valyra (GB) (Azamour) came up trumps to help her owner-breeder to new heights.
Sent off a 28-1 outsider of the trio racing in the emerald green, the unbeaten bay, who came into this race on the back of a 10-furlong course conditions event victory, was steadied from the outset before being settled in the rear by Johnny Murtagh. As the even-money favorite Beauty Parlour (GB) (Deep Impact) was committed by Christophe Soumillon at the top of the straight, Valyra was the sole challenger, and after subduing that rival with a furlong remaining, drew away to score by 3/4 of a length.
“It is always great to win the Diane, as I love this racecourse and everything involved around Chantilly,” The Aga Khan said. “I must congratulate the whole team, as everyone is doing a remarkable job.”
All of The Aga Khan’s previous winners of this Classic were trained by Alain de Royer-Dupre, and that conditioner’s duo of Sagawara (GB) (Shamardal) and Dalkala (Giant’s Causeway) understandably occupied far more prominent spots in the betting. What Valyra had in her favor was the fact that she had been supplemented by Jean-Claude Rouget despite the presence of that stakes-winning pair. Stable confidence must have been strong, as her debut win in a 9 1/2-furlong contest at Bordeaux-le-Bouscat April 14 and subsequent score, albeit impressive in nature, in a 10-furlong conditions event here last time May 18, left her some way short of the required standard on paper.
Any suggestion she would be used as a pacemaker, as her half-sister Valasyra (Fr) (Sinndar) was in this two years ago, was settled instantly as Murtagh steadied her out of the gate to race with only two behind. Traveling strongly as Beauty Parlour was taken past the front-running Kissed (Ire) (Galileo) with three furlongs remaining, she needed only to be shaken up to reel in the market leader and show determination to belie her inexperience.
Her victory saw her owner-breeder surpass Auguste Lupin’s six renewals and join an elite club of homebred Diane heroines including the great Zarkava (Ire) (Zamindar), and the Aga Khan was clearly delighted with the achievement afterwards.
“We had three fillies in here, each with their own qualities and good chances,” he said. “Each jockey had different instructions, and they carried them out to the letter, with Valyra proving best. She is a filly who needs to find her rhythm in a race, and that’s what Johnny let her do here. He had flown to Pau to ride her in a piece of work on Monday and was delighted with what he saw, and was very keen to ride her.”
Jean-Claude Rouget added, “She was very immature last year, but had made tremendous progress and improvement in the spring, and when they come to hand so quickly, it is always a good sign. When the filly won last time, I thought she could be one for the Diane, as she was so impressive and confirmed that day all that she had been showing us at home. It wasn’t until Monday, when Johnny worked her, that we decided to supplement, as she was brilliant that morning. I am very proud to win this for His Highness, as it is rare to see major owners putting their trust in provincial trainers. We will take our time to decide where she goes next, as we have nothing in mind.”
Beauty Parlour’s trainer Elie Lellouche said of the runner-up, “I think I should take the blame for that defeat, as I did not choose the right pacemaker for the filly, and she was forced to come too early in the race. She had already done too much when she was challenged, so it was not a bad performance, and we’ll take our time to see how she comes out of the race before we decide what to do next.”
Francois Rohaut added of the third Rjwa (Ire) (Muhtathir), “I am delighted with that - she always runs her race whereas Trois Lunes (Fr) (Manduro) showed bad temperament, and we will have to try and correct that now.”
Extract from Thoroughbred Daily News