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Westover Tops Short Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud Field

Westover  is set to go off a short-priced favorite for the July 8 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud (G1) and connections are hopeful he can take advantage of a “lovely opportunity” to land a second top-level contest.

Winner of last year’s Irish Derby (G1), the Juddmonte-owned 4-year-old produced a fine effort on his reappearance when finishing second to the world’s best racehorse, Equinox , in the Dubai Sheema Classic (G1), and he followed that with a good second to Emily Upjohn —vying for favoritism in the Coral-Eclipse Stakes (G1)—in the Coronation Cup (G1) last month.

Barry Mahon, racing manager for the owners, said: “He’s run brilliantly all year. He’s only ever had one bad run and that was in the King George (VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, G1). Apart from that he’s run his race every time and hopefully he’ll do that again.

“It’s a small field, but the track, trip, and ground should suit him. It’s a lovely opportunity for him and in the form book he looks to have a great chance, so hopefully he’ll take it with both hands.”

A stop-start race at Epsom didn’t suit Westover’s long-striding action, so a new recruit to Beckett’s yard, Malabu Drive, also takes his chance as a pacemaker to help ensure his stablemate gets an even gallop to aim at.

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“It was a messy race at Epsom,” said Mahon. “Frankie (Dettori, rider of Emily Upjohn) slingshotted past us after the pace had slowed. She’s a high-class filly and we got a little bit caught for speed. He stayed on well and was closing her back down at the line.

“Malabu Drive moved over just to help us with Westover. We had this race in our mind and we felt that there could be a small number of runners and there could be a tactical, slow pace, which we didn’t want.

“We made the decision to bring Malabu Drive over to be the lead horse for Westover. He’s a nice horse in his own right and hopefully he’ll just set a nice even pace for everyone.”

Zagrey  finished 2 1/4 lengths behind Westover at Meydan, but trainer Yann Barberot is hopeful this track may bring the pair closer.

He said: “He’s up against Westover, who beat him in Dubai and has a recent run in his legs, and he will certainly be the horse to beat. We’re certainly capable of taking our revenge if things fall right and there are certain things in our favor, including the fact Zagrey loves Saint-Cloud and is used to the French style of racing.

“One other advantage we might have is that, through his injury, he didn’t have as many hard races at three as Westover. It’s the first time he’ll have tackled 2,400 meters (a mile and a half) in France and hopefully, it sets up well.”

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