One trainer enjoying a superb time of it is the Chantilly maestro Alain de Royer-Dupre. In recent years he has really struggled since the retirement of top stayer Vazirabad, with only a handful of black type performing fillies and mares to keep him ticking over, but that is now changing.
The yard has certainly turned a corner this year and in the past four weeks he has saddled eight winners from 29 runners. 22 of those 29 placed in the first five, taking home prizemoney. These include Ebaiyra in a Group Two, who has burst onto the scene to become an outsider for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
The trainer saddles Dilawar in the penultimate race at Compiegne today, a four-year-old gelding that already must have the National Hunt and Australian bloodstock agents all drooling. He is a son of Dubawi, out of crack mare Dolniya, who won the 2015 Sheema Classic. Gelded in 2019, it is quite something that he even stayed in training to make his debut last month, and there is a real possibility that today is one of the last chances we might have to back him outside of stakes company.
Sent to Strasbourg last month for a weak 10-furlong maiden, he was learning on the job and made a devastating move to go round almost the whole field down the back stretch. Sent into the lead turning for home, it looked a question of ‘how far’, though he then idled, before then pulling clear again.
The form is weak but the runner-up won a handicap next time and is now rated a UK equivalent of 80. Backing Dilawar today does require a small leap of faith, but I was expecting him to be quite a bit shorter, even in this warm company. Favourite Calculating is rated 94 and sets a strong standard, but de Royer-Dupre is no mug and must be expecting him to go very close today against horses he will be familiar with from the Chantilly training grounds.
On the performance of Dilawar on debut, the trainer told Jour de Galop:
He is a horse we like a lot. We had to start at Strasbourg as there aren’t a lot of races for him in France, as he isn’t qualified for handicaps. We think he is better than a handicapper but we will be going up in class steadily.
Soumillon has won four of his last eight and looks ready to make a charge up the jockeys’ table. Surprisingly, he has not benefited from the freed-up Boudot rides to the extent that some may have predicted six weeks ago.
1.25pm Compiegne – 1pt win Dilawar @ 5-1 (general)