Persian King, part-owned by Godolphin, became the operation’s 299th worldwide Group 1 winner on Sunday when he confirmed all of his substantial promise to land the Poule d’Essai des Poulains (French 2000 Guineas) in good style.
The Boys in Blue went on to make it 300 in the fillies’ version later in the day, but it was the son of Kingman who stole the show after his turn of foot put the race to bed although he also had to show some fighting qualities at the death to hold off Shaman by a length.
Previously a firm fancy for last weekend’s 2000 Guineas at Newmarket, the Andre Fabre-trained colt stayed in France instead and it seems the decision has been justified, though it’s hoped connections will decide to bring him back to England to contest the St James’s Palace Stakes at Ascot’s Royal meeting in June.
There he could potentially clash with Newmarket winner Magna Grecia given that it seems unlikely now trainer Aidan O’Brien will want to step him up in trip given the strength in depth for middle-distance races the yard has shown in the Derby trials.
With this is mind, it must be remembered that on his sole visit to England back in September, Persian King beat Magna Grecia by a neck in the Group 3 Autumn Stakes. Given that a previously deeply competitive looking colts mile division now seems to be breaking up, these two would surely start at Ascot as the clear picks against the field and it could be some battle when they finally face-off again.
As things stand at this stage it would be impossible to predict which of these two lovely colts would come out on top in the summer, as Magna Grecia was having only his second racecourse start in the Autumn Stakes and went on to win the Vertem Futurity before becoming a classic winner just over a week ago.
Considering that, one would expect him to have improved enough to be able to get his revenge now on the French horse but it must be remembered that Persian King won his race at ParisLongchamp on unsuitably heaving ground and could be much, much better when allowed to kick-on off a fast pace over a quicker surface in England.
There could yet be plenty of competition for these two, even allowing for the fact that Jash, Ten Sovereigns and Calyx are likely to be aimed at the six furlong Commonwealth Cup and Too Darn Hot may be going up to ten furlongs. The Irish 2000 Guineas may yet throw out another star miler while Todd Pletcher could bring Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint winner Bulletin across the pond.
Also entered are the likes of Advertise, Kick On and Set Piece who could all yet do better than what they displayed in the Guineas, along with Shaman who ran well in defeat to Persian King in Paris at the weekend.