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Angel Bleu, El Bodegon Land French Group 1s

Trainer Ralph Beckett says Angel Bleu is "unlike any other horse he had trained."

Angel Bleu (No. 2) wins the Critérium International at Saint-Cloud

Angel Bleu (No. 2) wins the Critérium International at Saint-Cloud


James Ferguson and Ralph Beckett had high praise for horses who, when the trainers come to recount the stories of their careers, will both play a key part in the tale.

After the Oct. 23 Criterium International (G1), Beckett proclaimed Angel Bleu unlike any other horse he had trained after he landed a second group 1 in 20 days, while El Bodegon will remain close to Ferguson's heart as his first top-level winner, making all under an inspired Ioritz Mendizabal in the Criterium de Saint-Cloud (G1).

William Buick tracked El Bodegon on the unbeaten Goldspur and the pair threatened to break the field apart at the top of the straight. But Mendizabal regathered El Bodegon for a second effort and the son of Kodiac had the race in safekeeping a furlong out, with Stone Age running on to be second.

Saint-Cloud - 23/10/2021 - CRITERIUM DE SAINT-CLOUD (Gr 1) - EL BODEGON, Ioritz Mendizabal -  
Photo: APRH / Quentin Bertrand
El Bodegon wins the Criterium de Saint-Cloud

"I couldn't quite work out what was going on with a furlong to go," said an overjoyed Ferguson. "We love the horse and from his last win we planned this is where we wanted to go. But leading with a furlong to go wasn't really part of my planning.

"I thought he'd have to work very hard. He's improved with every run and mentally as well, he takes his traveling very well. I thought he was given a great ride, he relaxed very well in front."

Paddy Power cut El Bodegon to 25-1 (from 66) for the Cazoo Derby (G1) and there was no disguising the way he picked up on the cloying ground.

"His full brother Best Solution went on and got better with age," said Ferguson. "He's not overly big but there's a lot of presence about him and it's very exciting to wonder what we might have next year. I can't see him not improving. You have to aim high when you have a horse like this."

Charlie Appleby, assessing the run of Goldspur, said: "Take nothing away from the winner, he's improving. Our horse has got a good run there but the winner quickened and our horse couldn't."

Frankie Dettori gave his rivals a long look from the rear of the Criterium International field aboard Angel Bleu, who was reopposing Ancient Rome 20 days after beating him in the Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere Grand Criterium (G1).

Mickael Barzalona hit the front on the Andre Fabre-trained colt, but Angel Bleu reeled him in relentlessly, before holding off his renewed challenge by a head.

Beckett said:"He's extraordinary. You don't get horses like him very often, we haven't had one. The softest part of him is his tooth enamel.

"He's danced every dance and I thought (agent and racing manager to owner Marc Chan) Jamie McAlmont summed it up very well earlier in the week when he said it was a privilege to be involved with him. It really is. They don't come along very often, horses like this. I'm very proud of him."

The very soft ground once again played to Angel Bleu's strength and it will need to be a damp April in Newmarket for Marc Chan's Dark Angel colt to take on Native Trail and company in the Two Thousand Guineas (G1). But Beckett will fancy taking on any of his generation with some cut in the ground.

Asked how important underfoot conditions are to the winner, Beckett said: "Very; the form book tells you that soft ground is very important to him. Any horse that can do that has to have a fantastic constitution and whatever comes next, he's done it twice inside a month."

As to his potential Classic date next May, he added: "If I was going to bet on it I'd say he'll show up at Longchamp."