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Horse Racing: Darsi gives Soumillon and Aga a reason to smile.

Byline: Desmond Stoneham reports

A ROLLERCOASTER weekend for Christophe Soumillon and the Aga Khan ended on a high at Chantilly yesterday, when Darsi made amends for Visindar's failure in the Derby by winning the Prix du Jockey-Club.

For the owner, whose Epsom challenger had finished a beaten favourite in fifth, it was a seventh victory in the French version, while for Soumillon it was victory number three on his 25th birthday.

The five-strong raiding contingent from Britain and Ireland were outmuscled by the home team, with the Charles Egerton-trained Art Deco faring best in fourth.

Darsi, trained by Alain de Royer-Dupre, who was winning his fifth Derby on home soil, stayed on strongly to lower the ten-and-a-half-furlong course record in the Mitsubishi Motors-sponsored Classic, which had stood for 21 years.

Best Name was a fast-finishing second, with Arras a close third. Art Deco was beaten less than a length under Frankie Det-tori, but favourite Aussie Rules, ridden by Kieren Fallon for Aidan O'Brien, was never in contention and finished seventh.

The Mick Channon-trained Hazeymm made much of the running until he ran out of steam early in the straight, where Olivier Peslier and Arras took over. They led until inside the final furlong, with Soumillon timing his challenge to perfection - but also dropping his whip 100 yards out.

The winning trainer said: "He was brought with a beautiful, progressive run and given a super ride. We thought it was an open event, and Darsi came into it as a fresh horse as we hadn't run him in any trials and he had never been asked for his maximum."

The Aga Khan said: "We knew he was certain to stay and this victory has been a team effort. Darsi is a very good-looking horse, most consistent and has been gradually moved up in class. He was a late developer and Alain de Royer-Dupre has given him plenty of time.

"It could be either the Irish Derby or Grand Prix de Paris next. The only thing we didn't know before today was whether we could bring him back from 12 and a half furlongs successfully."

Soumillon said: "I had a dream of a race and just followed Arras for as long as possible. Then Darsi was very brave and courageous. I lost my whip only because Olivier (Peslier) hit my hand with his."

However, the stewards suspended Soumillon for four days from June 13 for misuse of the whip - the third time he has broken the rules in 2006. Peslier was fined EUR500 for the same offence, his second of the year, while Fallon was docked EUR300 as the stewards deemed him to have caused interference.

Of Art Deco, Egerton said: "He ran a blinder but there wasn't enough pace. We won't make any plans until we see how he comes out of the race."

Dettori said: "He hit a soft spot between the two-and one-furlong marker. More juice in the ground would have helped. He has won on very soft and will stay further, but he still ran a very good race."

Numide filled fifth position and should have been closer, with jockey Ioritz Mendizabal explaining: "We lost six lengths at the start. You can't do that in a Group 1."

Ballydoyle, like at Epsom 24 hours earlier, were out of luck as the Poulains winner Aussie Rules was never in the hunt and Hurricane Cat, partnered by David McCabe, finished last of the 15 runners.

Fallon said: "Aussie Rules was in the stalls for too long and went to sleep. He's a lazy horse and I couldn't get him motivated. Running downhill didn't suit him."

Hazeymm finished a place behind Aussie Rules in eighth, while Barry Hills said of 2,000 Guineas third Olympian Odyssey, who came 12th under Jamie Spencer: "He was disappointing. We don't know why."

Result Prix du


1 Darsi Christophe Soumillon 14-1

2 Best Name Christophe Lemaire 15-2

3 Arras Olivier Peslier 7-1

Owner Aga Khan

Trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre

Breeder Aga Khan

Distances 3/4l, snk


Darsi (centre) comes with a winning run under Christophe Soumillon to collar Best Name and Arras (inside)' Soumillon celebrates a third French Derby win' ANDY WATTS
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jun 5, 2006
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