Godolphin warrior seeks French victory
Dubai: Four years after he landed the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (Grand Criterium) (Group 1) at Longchamp in France, Godolphin's indisputable international warrior Rio de La Plata, seeks out his second Group race victory at the stylish French Hippodrome.
The strapping six-year-old son of Rahy is the pick of 11 runners who face the starter to contest the Group 2 Qatar Prix Daniel Wildenstein, one of three races offering a lucrative purse of €130,000 (Dh649,143) on the opening day of the Arc meeting.
Despite being severely inconvenienced by the soft ground at this course in the Prix du Moulin earlier this month Rio de la Plata still put in a big effort to finish half a length second to the impressive Excelebration.
Ridden by Frankie Dettori Rio de la Plate was shaping like a winner before he was swallowed up in the closing stride by the fast finishing Excelebration who appeared to revel in the soft conditions brought on by the falling rain.
Trainer Saeed Bin Surour said after the race: "He ran well and would have preferred better ground, but I was happy with him."
Bin Surour's work-mate Mahmoud Al Zarouni saddles the improving France Navy in the Group 2 Prix Dollar, which together with the Qatar Prix de Royallieu, carries a purse worth €130,000.
He takes on the consistent Cirrus Des Aigles who is being aimed at the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot on October 15.
The five-year-old suffered a narrow defeat to Arc favourite Sarafina in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud and is likely to start today's contest as the big favourite.
"If the pace is very fast he can wait but he doesn't like to wait and be slowed by the jockeys. If it's not fast he can go and make the pace on his own, like in the Grand Prix de Deauville," trainer Corine Barande-Barbe told At The Races.
"He loves to work and to run and likes to go racing."
"He won the Dollar very easily last year so we'll try to do it again and after we'll go to Ascot for the new Champion Stakes. "The turning track should suit him, he turns every way and goes on any going."
Al Zarouni also saddles Modeyra in the Group 2 Qatar Prix de Royallieu over 12.5 furlongs.