Angel Bleu secures Group One double at Saint-Cloud

Aidan O’Brien’s Stone Age finishes runner-up in Criterium de Saint-Cloud

Angel Bleu came from last to first to complete a French Group One double in the Criterium International at Saint-Cloud.

Three weeks on from winning the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere on Arc day at Paris Longchamp, Ralph Beckett's charge was a 15-8 chance in the hands of Frankie Dettori.

The Italian was happy to bide his time at the rear of the field and in the slipstream of the Andre Fabre-trained Ancient Rome, who had finished third in the Lagardere and was the marginal favourite to exact his revenge at 11-8.

But Angel Bleu quickened up smartly when popped the question to grab the lead, and while Ancient Rome did his best to make a race of it, the British raider was ultimately too strong.


“He’s very tough, he really is,” Beckett told Sky Sports Racing. “It was a terrific effort, to come back less than three weeks after [the Lagardere] and do it again. He really was the best again today. There were no excuses for anybody. He’s just an extraordinarily tough horse and talented with it.”

Betfair trimmed Angel Bleu’s odds for next year’s 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket to 12-1 from 16-1, although Beckett feels the French equivalent – the Poule d’Essai des Poulains – could be more likely.

He added: “We’ll worry about next year next year and enjoy today. We’ll get the celebrating out of the way first!

“I’d say, if I was going to bet on it, he’ll be back here for the Poulains.”

There was further top-level success for Britain in the Criterium de Saint-Cloud, with El Bodegon providing Newmarket handler James Ferguson with his first Group One victory.

A previous winner at Sandown in July and in a Group Three at Chantilly last month, the Kodiac colt received an enterprising ride from the front by Ioritz Mendizabal.

Having been tracked Charlie Appleby’s previously unbeaten favourite Goldspur for much of the 10-furlong journey, El Bodegon kicked clear early in the home straight and was not for catching.

Aidan O’Brien’s Stone Age finished strongly to beat Goldspur to the runner-up spot, with Joseph O’Brien’s Buckaroo fourth to complete a clean sweep for the raiding party.

On claiming his first Group One success, Ferguson said: “It’s pretty incredible. I couldn’t quite work out what was going on with a furlong to go.

“We love the horse and from his last win we planned that this was where we were going to go, but being in front with a furlong to go wasn’t really part of my planning.

“I thought he’d have to work very hard, [but] he’s obviously improved with every run and he takes travelling very well.

“I thought he was given a great ride and he relaxed very well in front. Credit to the team at home and the owners. To be able to reward them like this is mega.

“His full-brother Best Solution got better with age. This horse is not overly big, but there’s a lot of presence about him and it’s very exciting to wonder what we might have next year as I can’t see him not improving.

“He’s going to carry a Group One penalty now and I think you have to aim high with a horse like this.”