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ParisLongchamp welcomes new era in the French capital

J A McGrath

The French can always be relied upon to bring a certain style to an occasion, and that was clearly the case at the grand opening of the revamped Longchamp racecourse on the edge of the Bois de Boulogne in Paris on Sunday.

The grandstand, scaled down from the huge structure that had served large post-War crowds, is more suited to the boutique racing that now takes place nearly every meeting in France except Arc day.

To mark the grand reopening — the course had been closed for more than two years — France-Galop flew in a select group of journalists and broadcasters from nearby countries to cover the event.

They also staged the traditional G1 Prix Ganay - repackaged with the description ‘Prix de l’Inauguration de ParisLongchamp.’

And, the important race lived up to expectations when Cracksman, last year’s highest-rated horse in Europe (and joint-third in the world), galloped away with the prize, winning by four lengths.

The Godolphin duo, Wren’s Day (Medaglia D’Oro) and Cloth Of Stars (Sea The Stars) finished second and third respectively, giving the impression that they will be more comfortable with a step up in distance to a mile and a half (2,400m).

Connections of Cracksman (Frankel) were outlining a suitably ambitious G1 plan for their colt, who looks to have strengthened and improved from three to four. There were also hints that a clash between Cracksman and the filly Enable, his King George and Arc-winning stablemate, could take place earlier in the season than the widely expected meeting in the Arc in October.

Lord Grimthorpe, racing manager to Enabled’s owner Prince Khalid Abdullah, said that a clash in the G1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot in July was a possibility.

“After all, Enable is defending King George Champion,” he pointed out.

Godolphin chalked up a double on the ParisLongchamp card, with Deemster (Invincible Spirit) and Kitesurf (Dubawi), pictured.