Bryan Smart has had to wait 15 years for his second Group 1 winner following the 1996 victory of his Sil Sila in the Prix du Diane Hermes at Chantilly, but he finally notched up another top grade winner when his highly talented sprinter Tangerine Trees made every post a winning one in springing a surprise in the Prix de l’Abbaye at Longchamp on Sunday, writes Elliot Slater.
The success of Tangerine Trees provided North Yorkshire with a second winner in successive years on the showcase Longchamp card following the win 12 months ago of Richard Fahey’s Wootton Basset in the Prix Jean Luc Lagardere, and at 20/1 there is no doubt that the victory of Smart’s six-year-old gelding came as a shock to most punters. Those who bet horseracing money will have been shocked.
One thing that wasn’t a surprise was the speed shown by the gelded son of Mind Games leaving the stalls as he has always been blisteringly fast through the early stages of his races. This year though the 12-time winner has been seeing out his contests in better and better fashion, and on the slick five-furlong track in the centre of the expansive Longchamp racecourse , (some distance from the grandstands), Tom Eaves kept his mount up to his work and received every assistance from his willing partner as the pair saw off another British trained outsider Secret Asset (trained by Jane Chapple-Hyam) by a short-neck, with last season’s Nunthorpe Stakes winner Sole Power flying fast and late to be just a nose further back in third.
A good winner on his seasonal debut in the Group 3 Palace House Stakes at Newmarket in April, Tangerine Trees ran a couple of below-par races in mid-summer before bouncing back with a brave success in the listed Beverley Bullet Stakes at the end of August, a run that clearly put him spot on for his career best effort in France that has catapulted him into the highest echelons of European sprinters.
Meanwhile, fans of Paul Nicholls will already be looking forward to some of the national hunt season’s showpiece races.