Jockey Christophe Lemaire’s patience was rewarded as Gentoo shot through a small opening late in the race to claim victory in the Prix Royal-Oak (Fr-I) at Longchamp Oct. 24.
Entering the Royal-Oak off of a victory in the Prix du Cadran (Fr-I) earlier in the month, Gentoo was sent off as the favorite in the 15-furlong marathon. Lemaire settled Gentoo at the rear of the field as Celtic Celeb took the lead and set a dawdling pace under Thierry Thulliez. They were tracked closely by Winter Dream and Flying Cross, as British challenger Opinion Poll raced in mid-pack.
The order remained unchanged throughout much of the race as Celtic Celeb continued to lead the way. As the field entered the home straight, Flying Cross threw down his challenge, shooting past Celtic Celeb to briefly take the lead. His bid was short-lived, however, as Celtic Celeb found another gear and regained his advantage.
Meanwhile, Gentoo was full of run but with nowhere to go as Davy Bonilla and Watar had the 6-year-old gelding boxed in at the rail. All Lemaire could do was sit tight and pray for an opening to appear, which happened with less than a furlong to run. Gentoo slipped through the gap and was able to collar Celtic Celeb near the wire for a half-length victory.
Opinion Poll finished third, another 1 ½ lengths further back. Final time for the 15 furlongs was 3:36 over the soft going.
Winning trainer Alain Lyon said after the race, “He’s a magnificent horse over a long trip and on heavy ground. I never thought earlier in his life, he would have reached this level. He’s finished for the year and I might think about entering him for the Ascot Gold Cup (Eng-I).”
Gentoo is by Loup Solitaire out of Ifni, by Bering. Gentoo was bred in France by Jean-Claude Seroul, and is owned by Serge Tripier-Mondancin.