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Rouget: Ascot will suit Almanzor

11 Oct 2016

French colt at peak for QIPCO Champion Stakes on #ChampionsDay

Almanzor - Rouget

Rouget’s Almanzor will arrive at Ascot on Thursday ahead of his QIPCO Champion Stakes bid pic: racingfotos.com

Jean-Claude Rouget has issued a glowing bulletin regarding Almanzor ahead of the outstanding colt contesting the £1.3 million QIPCO Champion Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.

Rouget says the French Derby winner has been in fine fettle since the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes which he won in an emphatic manner and at the expense of seven other Group 1 victors at Leopardstown last month.

That form was swiftly given an additional glow when Found and Highland Reel, who finished second and seventh, went on to fill the first two places in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Chantilly.

“He’s been in really good form since the Irish Champion Stakes, and I’m extremely happy with him,” Rouget said. “The colt’s been based in Deauville for a while now, and he did his final piece of work on Monday morning over a mile on the grass with Christophe Soumillon, which really pleased us.”

The first four home in last year’s Champion Stakes – Fascinating Rock, Found, Jack Hobbs and Racing History – could all meet again in the QIPCO British Champions Day feature but Rouget is not one to fret about the opposition.

“The other runners in the race don’t interest me,” he said. “I like to concentrate on my own horse being at the top of his game, which is the most important. He’s a very laid back individual, who is a lovely looking horse with a fantastic turn of foot, which should serve us very well. He’ll also like the forecast good ground conditions.”

Almanzor, the highest rated horse in Europe*, will be having his first race in England and is seeking to provide France with their first winner of the mile and a quarter showpiece since Cirrus Des Aigles took the spoils in 2011.

“Almanzor’s a very good traveller, and the plan is that he’ll come over on his own in the lorry on Thursday to give him a little time to acclimatise to Ascot,” Rouget said. “I believe he will like Ascot, which resembles our French racecourses more than Newmarket does with its undulations, although I won there with Literato.”

Almanzor showed great acceleration to come from last to first in the Irish Champion Stakes but Rouget is not prepared to show his hand in advance. “As far as tactics go, I’ll wait to see what we will employ when I know more about the draw,” he said. “It’s something that will be decided at the last minute with his connections.”

Rouget has scooped two QIPCO British Champions Series races at Ascot in the past with Ervedya and Qemah (both Coronation Stakes winners) and said: “It’s a lovely track and I have some very good memories of my victories there. I am looking forward to coming back.”