Royal Julius's late dash lands dramatic first Bahrain International Trophy
22 November, 2019
'Stephane rode a brilliant race because he didn’t know the horse, he had never ridden him before'
Stephane Pasquier timed his challenge on Royal Julius to perfection to claim a thrilling first running of the Bahrain International Trophy in Sakhir.
European raiders dominated the line-up, with six British-trained runners featuring, but victory went to France and Royal Julius, who beat the John Gosden-trained Turgenev by three-quarters of a length.
The landmark race changed complexion dramatically in the final furlong after Rustang, locally trained by Allan Smith, made a bold bid from the front under former champion apprentice Lee Newman, deputising for the injured Gerald Mosse.
It nearly proved an inspired ride from Newman, but the pack closed rapidly in the final furlong and Turgenev briefly took the lead, only for Pasquier and Royal Julius to finish fastest of all down the outside. Rustang kept going admirably for third, with the Charlie Hills-trained Afaak in fourth.
Royal Julius's delighted trainer Jerome Reynier said: "Royal Julius is our little star. He won my first Group race in Italy and he’s so consistent, he never disappoints you. He doesn’t really like the French style of racing, where they go slowly and then quicken up.
"Everything suited him really well today. He needs pace in races and we knew with this amount of runners he’d be able to wait at the back of the pack.
"I like him to come down the outside without any problems with traffic, so that was the plan and Stephane rode a brilliant race because he didn’t know the horse; he had never ridden him before.
"I’m very happy because this was his end of year target and we can start next year with a lot of ambition, either in Doha or maybe in Saudi Arabia."
Robert Havlin was delighted with the effort of runner-up Turgenev, with the fast surface perhaps just a touch too quick for the three-year-old.
He said: "He’s never been on ground that fast before. He kept at it but he prefers to get his toe in a little bit more.
"They went quick. I was starting to think he [Rustang] has got to stop in a minute but he was still on the bridle and I thought I better get a move on. Fair play to my lad, he showed plenty of guts."
By Matt Butler in Bahrain