Richard Fahey thinks 'bouncing' Ribchester is ready to roll at Chantilly

Sun 10 Sep 2017

By staff

Richard Fahey is keeping his fingers crossed Ribchester can bounce back to his sparkling best in the Qatar Prix du Moulin at Chantilly on Sunday.

The Godolphin-owned four-year-old laid claim to being Europe's leading older miler after winning the Lockinge at Newbury and the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot and was a red-hot favourite to add to his Group One tally in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood following the late withdrawal of Churchill.

However, after what Fahey described as a "strange race" run in "extreme conditions", Ribchester suffered a narrow but shock defeat at the hands of Here Comes When.

However, the Musley Bank trainer is hopeful his stable star will show his true colours in France.

"We're very happy with him and we'll go there and see what happens," said Fahey.

"Things didn't work out at Goodwood, obviously, but we're just drawing a line through it and moving on.

“Everything has gone well with his preparation and I was very pleased his last piece of work on Monday. He is absolutely bouncing and we expect him to run very well.”

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With regular rider William Buick sidelined by injury, James Doyle takes over in the saddle.

"James has ridden the horse before and won on him, so that's not a problem," the trainer added.

"We've been pleased with the horse since Goodwood and we're looking forward to it."

Ribchester is set to face seven rivals in the one-mile contest, with the Owen Burrows-trained Massaat, Harry Dunlop's Robin Of Navan and Lightning Spear from David Simcock's yard also making the journey across the Channel.

Massaat returned from over a year off the track to win the Hungerford Stakes at Newbury last month and Burrows has been pleased with his subsequent progress.

He said: "We've been very happy with him since Newbury. He came out of the race well and we're looking forward to Sunday.

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"I thought he'd run well in the Hungerford as he'd been working well at home. I just felt he might be a bit rusty.

"I think that run has put the edge back on him and they're forecast a nice drop of rain, so it looks as though the ground will be suitable.

"We'll have a better idea of where we stand after the weekend."

Massaat is one of two contenders for leading owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, who is also responsible for Taareef, trained by Jean-Claude Rouget.

The four-year-old colt was a shade disappointing when only fifth in the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville on his latest appearance.

Sheikh Hamdan's racing manager Angus Gold said: "I thought they went a stupid pace in the Jacques le Marois.

"They went no pace and sprinted, which was never going to suit a horse who has bowled along before and has been happy doing so.

"Hopefully we'll make a bit more use of him this time."

Rouget also saddles Sussex Stakes fourth Zelzal.

Harry Herbert, racing manager for owners Al Shaqab Racing, said: "He ran a very good race in the Sussex on ground that wouldn't have suited him.

"He's a good horse and goes into this nice and fresh."

Robin Of Navan is a regular runner at Chantilly, winning the Group Three La Coupe on his penultimate start.

He was, though, virtually tailed off in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud last time.

"Obviously he loves Chantilly," said Dunlop.

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"We know that with Ribchester there it's going to be a tough race, but he loves France and we thought we'd give it a go.

"It could just be interesting for him, hopefully."

The field is completed by Andre Fabre's pair of Inns Of Court and Lady Frankel.

Inns Of Court was beaten just a short head by stablemate Al Wukair in the Marois, while Lady Frankel struck at Group Three level at Deauville last month.

Fabre said: "Inns Of Court ran a very good race in the Marois and I think he should repeat that performance. If he does, he should run a big race.

"Lady Frankel is a Group Three winner, so there are not many options.

"She has a great turn of foot and I hope she will run well."

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