Andre Fabre has trained many good and great horses during his extraordinary career. Victor Ludorum, already a dual G1 winner in just five career starts, is already on the ‘good’ list but the strapping Godolphin-owned son of Shamardal could move higher up the illustrious pecking order towards the ‘great’ if he can win Sunday’s (5 July) G1 Prix du Jockey Club (2100m) at Chantilly.
Fabre, who has won the Prix du Jockey Club (also known as the French Derby) four times, said of Victor Ludorum: "He likes to come late and overtake horses," and there should be plenty of horses to overtake with a good sized field expected that includes classy stablemate Ocean Atlantique.
Victor Ludorum’s reputation briefly dipped when he failed to deliver a winning punch first time out this season, finishing only third in Longchamp’s G3 Prix de Fontainebleau (1600m) in May. But he wasn’t given a hard time on the very soft ground that day and it was noticeable that Fabre seemed less than disturbed by that reverse.
When the colt reappeared 21 days later in the G1 Poule d’Essai des Poulains – switched from Longchamp to Deauville’s straight mile – it was a different story. Briefly outpaced, around 500m out he began to move sharply forward and he was pulling clear of his eight rivals as the winning post loomed.
His jockey Mickael Barzalona hollered with delight as Victor Ludorum reached the wire in that colts’ Classic and he recalled: "He got there gradually and I never had to get serious. He has the ease, he has the action and he knows exactly when to push the accelerator!"
Chantilly’s 500m longer trip has always been considered a potential bonus for Victor Ludorum and, with current predictions suggesting the ground won’t be too testing, he looks a worthy favourite.
Ocean Atlantique is yet to win at a group level, but he won the same 2000m Listed event that Sottsass won prior to landing the 2019 Prix du Jockey Club. Jumping fast from the gates and with jockey Pierre-Charles Boudot fearing that it might become tactical, Ocean Atlantique strode on and the outcome was a dominant five-length verdict over the nearest of his five rivals. The progressive son of American Pharoah will have plenty of supporters on Sunday.
There could be an Irish-trained winner of the Prix de Diane, the 2100m G1 Classic for three-year-old fillies and the other simulcast race from Chantilly on Sunday. The Jessica Harrington-trained Alpine Star was a runaway winner of June’s G1 Coronation Stakes (1594m) at Royal Ascot and the trainer said: "She’s been great since Ascot, really brilliant." Stephane Pasquier will ride the Niarchos family-owned filly.