ASCOT // French raiders took the lion's share of the honours in the Group One Prince of Wales Stakes for the second time in three years when Vision D'Etat got the better of the much-fancied Tartan Bearer by half-a-length at yesterday's Royal Ascot meeting. Another French-trained horse, Never on a Sunday, prepared by Jean-Claude Rouget, claimed third by just a head, giving the race a distinctly Gallic feel.
Their success follows that of Andre Fabre and Manduro in 2007 while Godolphin's Saeed bin Suroor has also won the race in its current Group One format three times. Tartan Bearer, ridden by champion jockey Ryan Moore and trained by Sir Michael Stoute, was attempting to win the race for his handler for the first time since 1991, but his four-year-old could not keep up with Vision D'Etat when that horse broke for the line.
Guided to the win by jockey Olivier Peslier, the Eric Lemaire-trained four-year-old was running without a tongue strap, a piece of equipment he normally wears while racing. He was prevented from using it because extra equipment must be declared by a trainer prior to the race under English race rules but this is not a requirement in France. Libaud's failed to declare the item pre-race. But the omission of the strap didn't seem to have a negative impact.
Sir Michael will now have to wait a little longer for a first Group One success with Tartan Bearer, but he is philosophical about the performance his charge put in. "He ran a great race," said the trainer. "He's never run a bad one. We would have liked a quicker earlier pace, but they all would. We've got no excuses." He added that Tartan Bearer's quest for a top tier win would continue, but would not say where until he determines how well the horse recovers from yesterday's effort.
"The horse is widely entered and we've got all the options. We'll wait and see how he comes out of this." Rouget, the third-placed trainer, said he had been worried by what he saw as a lack of pace in the race. "From the stands I was concerned there wasn't enough pace and he came up to horses racing wide," he said. "Ten furlongs is ideal for him but he can handle nine furlongs as well." In a field of eight, the Henry Cecil-trained Twice Over claimed fourth, John Gosden saddled the fifth and sixth-placed runners, Tazeez and Virtual, owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid. Frankie Dettori, on Trincot, crossed the line seventh and Ralf Rohne's Estejo brought up the rear.