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Rosallion Breakthrough Win in Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere

Richard Hannon holds Rosallion  in the highest regard and the pacey colt thrust himself into the 2024 Two Thousand Guineas (G1) reckoning after swooping to thwart Unquestionable  in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (G1) Oct. 1 at ParisLongchamp.

A deeply impressive listed winner at Ascot in July, Rosallion lost his unbeaten record when odds-on for the Champagne Stakes (G2) on soft ground at Doncaster last month. Hannon admitted he was distraught after that but on the advice of owner Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum, he turned him out again 15 days later here to give him the chance to redeem himself. 

That he did in style. Dropped in by Sean Levey after breaking well, Rosallion raced keenly before weaving his way through the field. Levey brought him wide to challenge and he had a target on Unquestionable, who led at the furlong pole for Ryan Moore. 

The 9-2 shot mowed the Ballydoyle colt down in the final 100 yards to win, going away by a length, prompting Paddy Power to slash him to 16-1 (from 33) for the first Classic of 2024, which Hannon won with Night of Thunder  in 2014. Rosallion’s winning time of 1:18.23 was almost two-tenths of a second quicker than that of Naaqoos , who clocked the previous fastest time for the race in 2008.

“It was so disappointing the last time he ran and I was just hoping he could show us what he is made of today, and he has done that,” Hannon said. 

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“I never thought there was a chance he would get beat (at Doncaster), in a weird way, and I’m not normally like that. He is an extremely good horse and this better ground suited him.”

A first group 1 winner for sire Blue Point , Rosallion is likely finished for the season and will be trained with Newmarket in mind next spring. Hannon, whose father won the Jean-Luc Lagardere with Olympic Glory  in 2012, credited his owner with the decision to go again so soon after Doncaster.

“In fairness to Sheikh Mohammed Obaid, it was his idea to come here,” he said. “After Doncaster, he rang me the next morning. He took it really well. I was immensely disappointed, but he said it was going to be really hot weather in France for the next two weeks, so let’s look at the Jean-Luc Lagardere. What we do now, I’m not sure, but we’ll be looking at the Guineas next year.”

Sunday’s triumph earned Rosallion an automatic berth into the corresponding Breeders’ Cup race this November at Santa Anita.

Levey was his usual cool self in victory, and there was a hint of je ne sais quoi about his response. 

“I was always going to win today,” he said. “He had his ground and that’s how good he is. 

“It took a lot of braveness to bring him here on the back of a disappointing run last time.” 

The favorite, Beauvatier , finished third, with connections suggesting the emphasis on speed wasn’t ideal, while Aidan O’Brien indicated he would now consider the Breeders’ Cup for the runner-up Unquestionable and the fourth home, Henry Adams 

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