Darley Tour de Force at Chantilly

Darley sires completed a Tour de Force weekend when Lope de Vega landed the G1 Prix du Jockey Club (2100m) at Chantilly on Sunday.  Lope de Vega emulated his own sire Shamardal who won the French 2000 Guineas – Derby double in 2005.

Darley stallion King’s Best sired a classic winner of his own when Workforce scored a record-breaking victory in English Derby on Saturday.  And Sheikh Mohammed’s worldwide operation garnered another Group 1 cross the Atlantic on Saturday when Champagne d’Oro won the G1 Acorn Stakes at Belmont Park.  Her sire Medaglia d’Oro will shuttle to Australia for the first time this year.

Medaglia d’Oro will join Darley’s Down Under roster which comprises 25 stallions.  Among them are young guns Domesday and Reset who sired the Group winners Pressday and Set For Fame at Doomben on Saturday.

Lope de Vega (3c Shamardal – Champagne Glow by Saratoga Six) looked to have the world at his feet when registering easy wins at Deauville and Longchamp last year but his reputation was somewhat tarnished after he finished fourth in the G1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at Longchamp on Arc day.

He resumed in April with a placing in the G3 Prix de Fontainebleau and subsequently swooped from a rearward spot to win the G1 Poule d’Essai des Poulains.  He defeated Dick Turpin who had also been runner-up to Makfi (Dubawi) in the English 2000 Guineas.

At Chantilly on Sunday, the Shamardal colt shadowed pacemaker Vivre Libre (Sadler’s Wells) until taking control at the top of the straight.  He was ridden hands-and-heels by Maxime Guyon and could have extended the three-length margin if driven out.

Lope de Vega is raced by Gestut Ammerland owner-breeder Dietrich von Boetticher.  His sire Shamardal (Giant’s Causeway) can now lay claim to being the world’s leading second-season sire and he will be swamped with a quality book of mares at a $66,000 fee at Darley’s Kelvinside property later this year.

Gestut Ammerland bred Hurricane Run (Montjeu) who was runner-up to Shamardal in the 2005 French Derby.  “That was an amazing performance by Lope de Vega from such a wide draw,” von Boetticher said.  “Shamardal beat Hurricane Run by a neck in 2005 but he has paid us back today.”

Lope de Vega is out of the G3 winner Lady Vettori and is a half-brother to Bal De La Rose (Cadeaux Genereux), a G3 winner of the 2007 Prix Andre Baboin.  Their dam was bred back to Shamardal this year.

Trainer Andre Fabre said Lope de Vega will probably drop back to 1600m for the G1 Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville in August rather than a campaign aimed at the Arc de Triomphe.  

“I have a doubt about him staying — he is from a Machiavellian family, so there was a question mark there,” Fabre explained.  “He is an excitable kind of horse, so I don’t want to travel him too far unless he stays in training as a four-year-old.”