Classic winner Makfi regained his winning form in grand style, taking command within the final furlong to defeat Goldikova in the Prix Haras de Fresnay-Le-Buffard Jacques Le Marois (Fr-I) at Deauville Aug. 15.
All eyes were on Goldikova going into the Jacques Le Marois, as the champion mare was looking to capture her 11th group I race. Her main competition appeared to be the Richard Hannon-trained Paco Boy, a multiple group I-winning miler who had finished second to Goldikova in the Queen Anne Stakes (Eng-I) at Royal Ascot in his last start.
Overlooked by the betting public was Makfi, the surprise winner (at odds of 33-1) of the StanJames.com Two Thousand Guineas (Eng-I) in May. The Jacques Le Marois marked Makfi’s first start since a dismal seventh-place finish in the St. James’s Palace Stakes (Eng-I) at Royal Ascot. After the race it was discovered that the 3-year-old colt had a throat infection, and trainer Mikel Delzangles was confident his charge would turn in a top effort.
A field of eight went to the post in the Jacques Le Marois, over a Deauville course that had been inundated by several days of heavy rain. As expected, Saying and Only Green, stablemates of Goldikova, were sent to the front to set the pace. Goldikova tracked them in third, as Olivier Peslier tucked his mare in behind Only Green.
Makfi was settled into sixth by jockey Christophe Soumillon, with Richard Hughes content to trail the field aboard Paco Boy. The field remained well-bunched throughout the early stages, with only five or six lengths separating first place from last.
Goldikova took the lead two furlongs from home, as both Paco Boy and Makfi loomed ominously on her outside. Put under a drive by Peslier, Goldikova was unable to produce her usual acceleration on the soft going, and her two rivals quickly drew alongside her.
Makfi, who clearly relished the testing conditions, drew off from his two older rivals in the final yards to win easily by 2 1/2 lengths. Goldikova fought back to regain second by a neck over Paco Boy. It was another six lengths further back to the fourth place finisher, Fuisse.
Final time for the eight furlongs was 1:39.40 over a course officially labeled “very soft”.
Makfi earned an automatic starting position into the TVG Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) with his upset victory. The Marois was the first European Breeders' Cup Challenge qualifier of 2010. The Breeders' Cup Mile will be run on Nov. 6 at Churchill Downs.
Delzangles was understandably thrilled with his colt’s victory, telling the press afterwards, “I’m delighted of course. We have been victorious and I was a bit disappointed after Ascot but we knew he was sick, so there was a reason for that.
“He acted on the ground better than the others and could run in the (Prix du) Moulin (Fr-I, Sept. 5),” Delzangles continued. “We’ll think about the QEII (Eng-I, Sept. 25) and Breeders’ Cup Mile.”
Even though he was disappointed with the result, trainer Freddie Head confirmed that Goldikova remained on target for the Breeders’ Cup. “We were beaten by a better horse on the day, no excuses,” he said.
“The main target is the Breeders’ Cup and I’ve not decided what we’ll do before that, maybe the Moulin or the Foret (Fr-I, Oct. 3) on Arc weekend.”
Bred in England by Shadwell, Makfi is owned by Mathieu Offenstadt. The 3-year-old colt is by Dubawi out of Dhelaal, by Green Desert. Dhelaal is an unraced half sister to champion Alhaarth (by Unfuwain), and hails from the immediate family of Green Dancer and Authorized.