Kew Gardens caps great day for Ballydoyle and now has King George on agenda

Kew Gardens capped a splendid day for Ballydoyle by winning the Group 1 Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp on Saturday evening, fending off the persistent challenge of Neufbosc to justify favouritism.

Winner of the Queen's Vase over a longer trip at Royal Ascot the previous month, Kew Gardens travelled well into the straight and quickened into the lead over a furlong out.

Neufbosc fought back well but was three-quarters of a length adrift at the line. The winner's stablemate Nelson made the running but faded to finish fifth of the six runners, with the Mark Johnston-trained Derby runner-up Dee Ex Bee third and the Joseph O'Brien-trained Downdraft bringing up the rear.

Kew Gardens was cut to 4-1 (from 5) favourite by the sponsor for the William Hill St Leger, but there is a more immediate goal, as his trainer explained.

Aidan O'Brien said: "The idea with bringing him back to a mile and a half is that we could have a look at whether the King George would be suitable. That's probably where he'll go next."

O’Brien, earlier successful in the July Cup at Newmarket with US Navy Flag, added: “Ryan was really pleased with him. He’s a lovely-moving horse, and Ryan rode him quietly with the intention of finishing with pace.”

Betfair Sportsbook and Paddy Power cut Kew Gardens to 6-1 (from 12 and 14) for the Qico-backed King George VI and Queen Elizabeth States at Ascot a fortnight today.

Earlier, British raiders Marmelo and Algometer fought out the finish to the Group 2 Prix Maurice de Nieuil.

The Hughie Morrison-trained Marmelo plugged on gamely under Christophe Soumillon to repel the Moore-ridden Algometer, although he edged left and interfered with Algometer, prompting a stewards’ inquiry.  

He kept the race and was cut to 16-1 co-favourite (from 25) for the Melbourne Cup by Coral, along with two other British-trained horses in Withhold and Magic Circle.

Edward Goodwin, owner-breeder of Marmelo, who had finished second in the same race 12 months earlier, when it had been run at Saint-Cloud, said: “In all probability the Melbourne Cup is on the cards and, unlike last year, we wouldn't run in Australia before the big day.

“We could come back to France for the Prix Kergorlay but Hughie is seriously considering the Ebor.”

Soumillon had earlier won the Listed Prix de Thiberville on Zarkamiya, the daughter of Frankel and Zarkava described by her jockey as “one of the nicest-bred fillies in the world”.