Ribchester’s Facteur Cheval Triumphs for France in Dubai Turf

Mark Smith - Sunday March 31

After winning five from seven at three, including his first four on the trot, the Jerome Reynier-trained Facteur Cheval raced consistently in top company in Europe last year without winning.

Facteur Cheval clings on (image Grant Courtney)

The son of Ribchester (IRE) made his 2024 bow in Saturday’s US$5 million Group 1 Dubai Turf (1800m) at Meydan Racecourse, coming up trumps under Maxime Guyon when getting the bob over the Japanese-trained mare Namur (Harbinger).

Another Japanese runner, Danon Beluga (Heart’s Cry), runner-up a year ago, finished strongly under Joao Moreira for third. 

Trained in France by Jerome Reynier for Team Valor, Facteur Cheval advanced his record to six wins and seven placings from 14 starts.

His breakthrough at the top level was well-deserved as he has placings in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot, Sussex Stakes at Goodwood, Prix du Moulin de Longchamp, and Prix d'Ispahan at Longchamp.

Maxime Guyon was effusive in his praise for the Dubai Turf winner.

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“He’s a great champion. We didn’t know how he would handle the faster ground because he has more used to racing on soft and heavy surfaces but you can see how well he did,” Guyon said. 

“He gave me a really great turn of foot and really wanted to fight to the line. I didn’t want to go too early because he’s been running over 1600 metres and was stepping up in trip slightly, for all that I think he’ll stay 2000 metres. 

“I always had this thought at the back of my mind that it was his first run of the year and it was further than he’s been running over. But I never felt like he would crack.” 

Sentiments reflected by his trainer.

“It’s just amazing, I have no words. You know 16 years ago we were here with [Darley] Flying Start and that was at Nad Al Sheba. I see a horse here that has been prepared the best way possible by Gregory [Davignon, work rider] and it’s just amazing, I can’t believe it,” Reynier said.    

“I said to Maxime I’ve never seen this horse go backwards at the finish, he is always going forward and giving his best. I had no doubts about the distance and Maxime has given him a perfect ride, he had Lord North to follow and he switched off during the race.

There will be celebrations in France and New Zealand (image Grant Courtney)

“He switched him to the outside and then waited long enough to save something for the end and that’s just amazing. I am so happy for all my team..  “It depends how he recovers but he can stay here and take it easy. He’s adapted very well here and seems very happy so maybe we could try Hong Kong next for the QE II Cup at the end of April.” 

Three-time race winner Lord North could do no better than eighth.

“He had a great spot, great cover,” Frankie Dettori reflected.

“He travelled great into the straight, but he just didn't have the gears that he had in the past. We are all getting older, right?

Fresh off his win on California Spangle in the Al Quoz Sprint, Brenton Avdulla said the Casper Fownes-trained Fastnet Rock gelding Straight Arron tried his heart out in sixth place.

A first Group 1 for Haunui Farm's Ribchester

“He ran terrific. He was just a little bit funny going left-handed, but he was honest,” Avdulla said.

Facteur Cheval was a145,000gns Tattersalls November foal and €120,000 Arqana Deauville Select Yearling.

He is the best of two winners from as many to race for the unraced Shamardal mare Jawlaat a half-sister to triple French Group III winner Tantheem (Teofilo).

Facteur Cheval is the first Group 1 winner for triple Group 1 winner Ribchester (IRE), who filled the place left by his sire Iffraaj at Haunui Farm.

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