There had been a worry over whether Kingman would even take part in the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville, but John Gosden’s colt reigned supreme yet again once he took to the track for a fourth consecutive Group One victory.
Gosden and Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to owner Khalid Abdullah, had walked the Normandy course several times, with concerns it might be a little too soft for the season’s finest miler.
But just as he had shown in the Irish Guineas, St James’s Palace Stakes and Sussex Stakes, Kingman can produce top-level sprinting speed – and with a flicker of effort from his jockey, and after James Doyle issued his instructions, the race was over.
With only five starters, it was always likely to be tactical and as the field virtually walked out of the stalls, it was left to German outsider Red Dubawi to take up the running.
Doyle waited patiently before unleashing Kingman inside the final furlong, and he burst two and a half lengths away from Anodin. Frankie Dettori was always hard at work on last year’s runner-up, Olympic Glory, eventually settling for third, while Clive Brittain’s Rizeena was rarely a danger herself under Ryan Moore and just sneaked past Red Dubawi at the line.
Gosden revealed the final decision to allow Kingman to take his chance was down to Abdullah. He said: “It was a 50-50 [to run] in my mind, and a very sporting gesture by the Prince.
“I didn’t think he was entirely in love with the ground – it was different to anything else he had faced – but he’s got a wonderful temperament and showed he can cope with anything.
“It was a muddling pace, and James kept wondering when they were going to quicken it up. You had to be impressed with the way he went and won his race – the good thing was that he completely switched off.
“The plan is now the QEII [Ascot, 18 October), which has always been his end-of-year objective. I’m very proud because the Jacques le Marois is the most prestigious mile race in France.”
Doyle said: “It’s a shame they went so slowly early on because then it turned into a dash to the line. I wasn’t sure that he would be able to go and do his usual thing on the ground, but he was just the same Kingman when I asked him to pick up as he’s always been.”
Dettori said of the Richard Hannon-trained Olympic Glory: “My horse ran a super race, but he’s the same sort of horse as the winner in that he likes something to aim at. In that small field, I had to ride him a bit differently and it probably cost us second.”
Pierre-Yves Bureau, racing manager for Anodin’s owners, the Wertheimers, said: “He lost absolutely nothing in defeat and could run in the Breeders’ Cup Mile.”
The Hannon-trained Tupi had earlier got second place in the stewards’ room after meeting trouble in the Prix Francois Boutin. Runner-up to Highland Reel in the Vintage Stakes at Goodwood, the colt was sent off at odds-on dropping down to Listed level in France, but Richard Hughes found a gap up the inside rail was closed by the front-running Iceberg.
Hughes tried to switch out of danger but it was all too late as Jonathan Pease’s Nucifera had already swooped and quickened clear under Christophe Lemaire to take his unbeaten record to three. Iceberg passed the post second, ahead of Tupi, but the places were reversed.
It was a poignant outcome to winning connections, as Boutin trained the likes of Nureyev, Miesque, Hector Protector and Kingmambo for the Niarchos family, whose colours were carried by Nucifera.
Alan Cooper, racing manager to the Niarchos family, said: “It’s our first win in the Boutin after many years of trying and this is an emotional moment.”
A next likely target for the well- entered Nucifera is the Prix La Rochette at Longchamp early next month.
Zarshana gave the Aga Khan another win in the Prix Minerve when sailing home under Christophe Soumillon. The Group Three event for three year olds over an extended mile and a half had attracted a trio of cross-Channel raiders and it was those three who set the pace, with Ralph Beckett’s Honor Bound leading from Criteria and Marsh Daisy.
As the field straightened up for home, they spread across the track and, as the British runners weakened, Alain de Royer-Dupre’s recent Longchamp winner Zarshana took full advantage.