European Review: Kalanasi Upsets Montjeu

Montjeu, while improving on his lackluster run 13 days earlier in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe Barriere (Fr-I), still found one too good for him in Newmarket's Dubai Champion Stakes (Eng-I) on the richest day in British racing.

The Aga Khan's Kalanisi deserved a group I win perhaps more than any horse in Europe and dug deep when Michael Kinane brought Montjeu alongside in the last of the straight 10 furlongs. Twice beaten by a head by Giant's Causeway, in the Coral Eclipse Stakes (Eng-I) and Juddmonte International (Eng-I), Kalanisi responded willingly to Johnny Murtagh's urgings to claim the Champion by a half-length, rewarding his backers with a 5-1 payout for defeating odds-on Montjeu and 13 others.

Trainer Michael Stoute, who wrapped up his sixth training title with this £232,000 ($336,876) win, said: "I'll have to speak to his Highness, but it might be nice to have one more fling with him this year. The Breeders' Cup (Turf, gr. IT) is a possibility, or Japan. I've always felt he'd get 1 1/2 miles."

Montjeu's trainer, John Hammond, said he felt the Breeders' Cup was "very doubtful," but part-owner Michael Tabor noted: "The trainer has the last say, but I don't see why he shouldn't go to the Breeders' Cup." Third-place finisher Distant Music, who won the Dewhurst Stakes (Eng-I) on this day last year, is a possible for the Mile (gr. IT) after being beaten three lengths at Newmarket.

Murtagh, who won the 1995 Breeders' Cup Mile with Ridgewood Pearl, has enjoyed a phenomenal season, riding for his retainer John Oxx in Ireland and Stoute in England. Oddly, Kalanisi represented his first-ever winner at Newmarket, but was his ninth group I win of a season which has included Sinndar's victories in the Epsom and Irish Derbys (both group I) and the Arc.

Mick Channon returned Sheikh Ahmed al Maktoum's Tobougg to England after his convincing win in the Prix de la Salamandre (Fr-I) and the juvenile cemented his growing reputation with a romping victory in the Dewhurst, beating Godolphin's French-trained Noverre and eight others by 1 1/4 lengths under Craig Williams. While Godolphin, which plans to send Noverre to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I), announced 2-year-olds owned by Sheikhs Hamdan and Maktoum will henceforth remain with their trainers, there is every likelihood Tobougg will be snatched by Godolphin for wintering in Dubai.

"He's a playboy and doesn't always concentrate," said Channon of unbeaten Tobougg, now co-second favorite for the Two Thousand Guineas (Eng-I) behind Nayef. "Craig said he was looking at the crowd from two (furlongs) out."

Prix du Moulin (Fr-I) winner Indian Lodge was due to run in the Champion but was switched to Longchamp at the last minute for the softer ground of the seven-furlong Prix de la Foret. Co-owner Eric Parker's 4-year-old gave trainer Amanda Perrett her second group I victory, and jockey Pat Eddery his first of the season, winning off by 2 1/2 lengths from favored Dansili in the field of 11.

"If the ground comes up soft, we may have a crack at the Breeders' Cup Mile," said Parker. Dansili is also being considered for the Mile by trainer Andre Fabre after he ran well in the latter stages of the Foret.

This article appears in the Oct. 21 issue of The Blood-Horse magazine.