Space Blues simply sensational in G1 Prix Maurice de Gheest
Space Blues unleashed a devastating turn of foot to secure a first G1 success with an exhilarating performance in the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville, France, on Sunday, 9 August.
The four-year-old had finished third in the extended six-furlong showpiece 12 months earlier but returned on the back of three wins over seven furlongs, including an impressive victory in the G2 Lennox Stakes at Goodwood on Tuesday, 28 July.
After breaking smartly, Space Blues was held up at the rear on the stand’s rail by William Buick as Royal Ascot G1 winners Golden Horde and Hello Youmzain set a strong pace for the 11-strong field.
The Charlie Appleby-trained colt took closer order approaching the final furlong and accelerated superbly with half a furlong to race, quickening between horses to go from fifth to first in a matter of strides. He galloped out powerfully to win by three-quarters of a length over Hello Youmzain.
Charlie Appleby said: “Space Blues is by Dubawi, and we know what his progeny can do as they get older. His profile this year has been faultless. Every time he has stepped up in grade, he has been more impressive and a lot of credit goes to the team at home. Paolo [Sirigu], who rides Space Blues, does a fantastic job looking after him, and he is a Christian of a horse.
“There isn’t a great amount of opportunities at G1 level for a horse like Space Blues. I was keen to try and win a G1 with him because he deserves to win one. He is a lovely horse to have around and it is fantastic for the team. Most importantly, it is fantastic for His Highness Sheikh Mohammed and Godolphin.
“It is hard to be on the front end at Deauville and the gallop was strong early doors. I felt that the race was always going to develop for a finisher and William’s instructions were to go out there and ride him to come home. He has given the horse a lovely ride. From halfway, William said he only needed for the gaps to appear and, thankfully, they came in time.
“We will look at bringing him back to France again for the G1 Prix de la Foret on Arc weekend (Sunday, 4 October). We will give him a well-deserved break first and then head to Longchamp.”
William Buick said: “Space Blues has everything. He was third in this race last year but Charlie told me that he was a better horse this year, which I felt as well at Goodwood in the Lennox Stakes. This was a good performance – it’s amazing to see a turn of foot like that in a top sprint race. He is a very, very good horse and it is his first G1, which he really deserves. Today, he showed how good he really is.”
Godolphin’s other runner in the Prix Maurice de Gheest, Earthlight (Andre Fabre/Mickael Barzalona), brought an unbeaten record into the race following six career wins, including two at G1 level as a juvenile.
The Shamardal colt tracked the leaders for much of the contest and ran on to hold every chance half a furlong out before keeping on to come home a close fourth, beaten a length in total.
Lisa-Jane Graffard of Godolphin said: “Earthlight came to win his race and stayed on inside the final 100 metres. It was only his second run after a long lay-off and he was back in G1 company. He still has a very bright future, wherever he goes next, and we will take some time to reflect on everything.”