Westerner proved to be the class of the Prix Royal-Oak (Fr-I) at Longchamp Sunday, clearing off in the straight and winning in a canter to give rider Stephane Pasquier his first group I victory.
Trained by Elie Lellouche for owner Ecurie Wildenstein, the 5-year-old son of Danehill blew past Behkara and Alcazar with less than two furlongs to go, drew away and won easily by 2 1/2 lengths. Behkara edged past Alcazar, who fought briefly with Westerner for the lead, by a half length for second. Le Carre, last in the field of eight for much of the 1 7/8-mile, 110-yard- journey, got up late for fourth. The final time on heavy going was 3:28.9.
Pasquier never used his whip on Westerner, who repeated last year's victory in the Royal-Oak.
Percussionist set the pace ahead of Franklins Gardens but faded soon after entering the straight as Franklins Gardens and Darryll Holland took up the running. Westerner soon pounced on the leader, however, and was quickly in control.
Lellouche told Racing Post
, "Westerner is like a bulldozer and a champion over this distance. Now it's a winter holiday and he stays in training next year."
"We had a superb leader today," added Alec Wildenstein. "Of course the GoldCup at York will be a prime target and the ground is normally softer than Ascot so that will be an advantage."
"Riding Westerner was like flying the Concorde," Pasquier said. "We were always cruising and the tank was full of gas throughout. He is an impressive horse to ride and was in a different class to the others."