Last year's European champion 2-year-old colt Shamardal, considered a Kentucky Derby (gr. I) prospect for his new Godolphin team until he flopped in the UAE Derby (UAE-II) in March, bounced back in a big way Sunday at Longchamps, winning the Gainsborough Poule d'Essai des Poulains (Fr-I) in front-running style.
With Frankie Dettori in the irons for the French equivalent of the Two Thousand Guineas, the robust son of Giant's Causeway
bounded away from the start on the inside and led at every call with just enough left to defeat the closers Indesatchel and Gharir in the one-mile event. Shamardal won by a head over the wide rallying Indesatchel, ridden by Jamie Spencer, with Gharir and Thierry Gillet a neck farther back. The race was contested on soft going.
Dettori said the plan wasn't to go to the front but when the U.S. bred Shamardal pulled him that way and was moving so well, he decided to let him dictate.
"He got a bit tired in the last 100 yards, but that may have been because he was maybe one gallop short," Dettori told Racing Post
Trainer Saeed bin Suroor said Shamardal, who was produced by the Machiavellian mare Helsinki, has turned it around since leaving the desert.
"Ever since he came home from Dubai, I have been pleased with him and he has looked a lot happier on the grass than he did on the sand," he said. "I knew I had him as well as I could have him, but when they started getting close at the end..."
Racing manager Simon Crisford added, "It's great to see the champion two-year-old of Europe back restoring his reputation. He's in everything now from a mile to a mile and a half. Perhaps this is his trip, but we'll have to see how he comes out of the race."
Salut Thomas finished fourth, followed by Early March, Helios Quercus, Laverock, Turtle Bowl, Silent Name, Kamakiri, Tony James, Montgomery's Arch, Coeur Courageux, Cougar Cat and Dark Cheetah. The final time was 1:39.2.