Kizuna Stops Ruler of the World in Prix Niel

Japanese Derby (Jpn-I) winner Kizuna prevailed in a tight finish over Epsom Derby (Eng-I) Ruler of the World in Qatar Prix Niel (Fr-II) Sept. 15 at Longchamp.

The Deep Impact colt launched a swift outside rally and won by a short head in a race regarded as the 3-year-old trial for the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I). Kizuna announced himself as a top contender for Europe's premier middle-distance race Oct. 6 at Longchamp.

Ruler of the World, the favorite with Racing Post, boosted his own Arc credentials after a troubled trip. Having lost his position when the tempo picked up, he resolutely picked up to challenge between rivals and just missed by a slight margin.

"I was very happy with him," jockey Ryan Moore told Racing Post about Ruler of the World, who came in off a fifth-place effort in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby (Ire-I) June 20 at the Curragh. "He found a very good rhythm and although he was still a little babyish when they came around him, he quickened very well. He handles the ground."

French group II winner Ocovango, fifth in the Epsom Derby, finished three-quarters of a length back in third in the 10-horse field.

Flintshire, who entered as the early favorite for the Arc with his win in the Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris (Fr-I) in July, failed to show his top form on the soft ground and finished fourth, a length behind stablemate Ocovango, putting participation in the Arc in question.

"We'll have to wait and see. We want to run, but the ground will have to come into it," Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager for owner Khalid Abdullah told RacingUK.

Making his first start since taking the Japanese Derby May 26, Kizuna extended his win streak to four races and improved his overall record to five wins from eight career starts. He is trained by Shozo Sasaki for Koji and Shinji Maeda.

"This was his first run abroad so I'm very pleased," Sasaki told RacingUK.

"He was about 80% compared with the Japanese Derby, so we will work hard to get the final 20% before the Arc."

The Prix Niel is at the Arc distance of 2,400 meters (about 1 1/2 miles), and Kizuna finished the trip in 2:37.64 with Yutaka Take in the stirrups.

Kizuna, who was bred by Koji Maeda's North Hills Ltd., is out of the Storm Cat mare Catequil. He is a half brother to two-time Japanese champion Phalaenopsis and group II winner and sire Sunday Break. His second dam is United States grade I winner Pacific Princess, whose descendants include consecutive Japanese Horses of the Year Biwa Hayahide (1993) and Narita Brian (1994).

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