Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Taste of France

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Taste of France

Article excerpt

Westerner laid some ghosts to rest for his enigmatic owner Alec Wildenstein when breaking a 27-year losing streak for French-trained runners in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot at York yesterday.

Westerner, second last season, became the first to take the big prize across the Channel since Sagaro completed a hat-trick of victories in 1977.

It was a poignant success for Wildenstein, who said: "For my father (the late Daniel) and my family, this is wonderful. This horse is a friend.

"Father used to tell me about this race when I was a little boy and it is always a race that we have wanted to win most."

It was a third victory of the week for French-trained horses, their best tally for over a decade, as Olivier Peslier brought the 7-4 favourite home to beat Distinction by a neck.

The Elie Lellouche-trained six-year-old travelled powerfully up the straight and was produced to perfection to lead inside the final furlong and edge out the 33-1 runner-up.

Vinnie Roe finished a brave third for Ireland, another five lengths away.

Johnny Murtagh struck for home on Distinction with three furlongs to run, but Peslier never panicked and made smooth progress to join issue two from home.

Even when it looked as if Distinction had stolen a march, Peslier looked unflappable and gradually eroded the gap without having to seriously stoke the fires.

Wildenstein now plans to drop the horse back in trip to a mile and a half, with the Grosser Preis von Baden a possible target en route to the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

"He is entered in the King George, but I am not sure that Newbury would be his course," added the owner.

Peslier, riding his 10th winner at the meeting, said he was confident Westerner was up to competing with the best over middle-distances.

"He has a lot of speed," said the rider. "He is not like a normal horse. You don't get many horses who are effective over such different distances.

"When I got my position I knew not to move. You cannot come too quickly on this horse. I waited a minute. He has a good turn of foot, but the second was doing well, too, and we had a fight with him.

"He needs horses to be with him, he likes to fight them."

ETLAALA and Somnus were installed 5-1 joint-favourites by Ladbrokes for the Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot at York tomorrow following yesterday's 48-hour final declaration stage.

A maximum field of 20 are left in the Group One dash over six furlongs in what is the second of two British legs in the Global Sprint Challenge.

Somnus's stable companion Fayr Jag has been denied the chance to bid for back-to-back victories as he was one of five horses balloted out.

Etlaala will be tackling six furlongs for the first time, having dropped to the minimum distance on his latest outing after being thought of as a 2000 Guineas prospect at the start of the season. …

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