Mon, 01 April 2024

First Group One winner for Ribchester


CameraIt was all smiles after Facteur Cheval scored his biggest career victory in the $5 million Dubai Turf Dubai Racing Club/Liesl King photo

Haunui Farm's Ribchester was handed his first elite level winner when Facteur Cheval narrowly prevailed in the Gr.1 Dubai Turf (1800m) at Meydan on Saturday.

Trained by Jerome Reynier near Marseille, Facteur Cheval carried the colors of the American-based syndicate Team Valor LLC and Gary Barber while Maxime Guyon was in the saddle, winning the race for the second time after Solow in 2015. Danon Beluga, runner-up a year ago, finished off well again for third.

“He’s a great champion. We didn’t know how he would handle the faster ground because he has more used to racing on soft and heavy surfaces but you can see how well he did,” jockey Guyon said of the winner. “He gave me a really great turn of foot and really wanted to fight to the line. I didn’t want to go too early because he’s been running over 1600 metres and was stepping up in trip slightly, for all that I think he’ll stay 2000 metres. I always had this thought at the back of my mind that it was his first run of the year and it was further than he’s been running over. But I never felt like he would crack."

Facteur Cheval settled in midfield under Guyon and was pulled out to lead passing the furlong marker. Namur launched his bid from further back and the pair were locked together for the final 100 meters. Facteur Cheval just got the bob in.

“It’s just amazing, I have no words. You know 16 years ago we were here with [Darley] Flying Start and that was at Nad Al Sheba. I see a horse here that has been prepared the best way possible by Gregory [Davignon, work rider] and it’s just amazing, I can’t believe it,” trainer Reynier beamed.

“I said to Maxime I’ve never seen this horse go backwards at the finish, he is always going forward and giving his best. I had no doubts about the distance and Maxime has given him a perfect ride, he had Lord North to follow and he switched off during the race. He switched him to the outside and then waited long enough to save something for the end and that’s just amazing. I am so happy for all my team."

“It depends how he recovers but he can stay here and take it easy. He’s adapted very well here and seems very happy so maybe we could try Hong Kong next for the QE II Cup at the end of April.”

The clock stopped at 1 minute 45.91 seconds, making it the third-fastest edition of the race in the last decade.-