November 29, 2023

Inspiral eyes Santa Anita after repeat in BC WAYI Prix Jacques le Marois

Inspiral became only the fourth repeat winner of the Prix Jacques le Marois (Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire/Breeders' Cup)

Wheeling back 11 days after trailing in the mire in Goodwood’s Sussex (G1), Inspiral returned to top form on better going at Deauville Sunday with a repeat victory in the Prix Jacques le Marois (G1). In the process, the John and Thady Gosden filly put the crowning touch on jockey Frankie Dettori’s record in his final Deauville ride.

Inspiral could try to add another exclamation point to Dettori’s farewell tour, if connections accept the fees-paid berth to the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) that she earned in the “Win and You’re In” Marois. John Gosden sounded encouraging in the postrace quotes.

“When Frankie took her to the front, he looked after her,” Gosden said according to Thoroughbred Daily News, “and maybe we will take her to Santa Anita, even though it is a tight track for her.”

The Cheveley Park homebred hadn’t won since last summer’s Marois, but she had run only three times in the interim. Sixth in the 2022 Queen Elizabeth II (G1) on rain-softened ground on Champions Day, Inspiral resurfaced over the same straight mile June 20 in Royal Ascot’s Queen Anne (G1) and came up a neck shy of the surprising Triple Time.

Inspiral sportingly took her chance in the Aug. 2 Sussex, despite the bleak conditions. Although she did her best to challenge the streaking Paddington, she couldn’t maintain her bid. Dettori gave her an easy time letting her coast home last, with a view toward a quick turnaround for the Marois.

“It was a brave, brave call,” Cheveley Park Director Richard Thompson said of coming right back to Deauville. “She ran in the Sussex 11 days ago and, although she didn’t have much of a race, to come back and win this again is absolutely fantastic. What a day.”

Inspiral went off as a 7.80-1 chance, with favoritism accorded to the three-year-old colt Big Rock. Runner-up in the Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) (G1) to record-setting Ace Impact, Big Rock promised to make the most of his dangerous early speed on the cutback to a metric mile.

The 2.10-1 choice indeed set up shop on the front end, and soon much of the field was off the bridle. Triple Time attended, only to weaken. So did his other early pursuers, Hi Royal and Marhaba Ya Sanafi, who faded even farther behind. Marhaba Ya Sanafi, hero of the Poule d’Essai des Poulains (French 2000 Guineas) (G1) and third in the French Derby, ran as if something were amiss when dropping back and virtually easing across the line.

But Inspiral was able to summon her trademark kick from well off the pace. Breaking from post 1 on the stands’ side, Dettori steered the Frankel filly to her right in order to have plenty of cover behind horses. She improved position on the far side, rallying in tandem with familiar foe Light Infantry, who got within a neck of her here a year ago.

As Big Rock kept rolling, though, only Inspiral could keep finding to catch, and ultimately pass, him. Forging 1 1/4 lengths clear, under a considerate hand ride, she finished in 1:36.62 on the good-to-soft straight course.

Big Rock had the same margin to spare over third-placer Light Infantry. While Big Rock has his sights set on the Prix du Moulin (G1) next, Light Infantry is expected to embark upon another campaign in Australia.

Onesto, last year’s Grand Prix de Paris (G1) winner, stayed on for a terrific fourth in his comeback at a trip far short of his wheelhouse. (The 2022 Grand Prix form was boosted earlier Sunday when runner-up Simca Mille captured the Grosser Preis von Berlin [G1]). Triple Time checked in fifth, followed by Erevann, Good Guess, Angers, Hi Royal, Life in Motion, and Marhaba Ya Sanafi.

Inspiral became just the fourth miler to win this prestigious prize twice. The most recent to repeat, Palace Pier (2020-21), was also a Gosden pupil guided by Dettori, who has won four straight among his record eight editions of the Marois. The other two-time Marois winners are the legendary Miesque (1987-88) and Spinning World (1996-97). Miesque likewise starred in back-to-back Breeders’ Cups, while Spinning World took the 1997 Mile.

Now a Group 1 winner at two, three, and four, Inspiral has compiled a record of 11-7-2-0. The bay capped her unbeaten juvenile campaign in the 2021 Fillies’ Mile (G1), and resumed with a scintillating display in the 2022 Coronation (G1) at Royal Ascot. She suffered her first loss when wheeling back for the Falmouth (G1) at Newmarket, where she was stunned by Prosperous Voyage. Inspiral then promptly rebounded in the 2022 Marois, and on Sunday, she once again found Deauville a congenial spot.

 “She’s a proper individual,” Thompson said, “and she’s had some difficult days on the racecourse but she’s had great ones too. She’s so talented and when it goes for her, as it did here, she’s just in a different league.”

The same could be said of her rider. On the occasion of his farewell appearance at Deauville, the Normandy track offered a special tribute to Dettori, featuring retired legend Yves Saint-Martin.