He is the toast of the French racing establishment. At 21, he has a resume that may lack glittering achievements. Yet, Maxime Guyon is putting ticks in all the right boxes in his curriculum vitae in a mighty hurry. He won the French 2000 Guineas with Lope de Vega in May. The same colt gave jockey Guyon his first French Derby win in early June. On Wednesday, at Royal Ascot, Maxime Guyon made his riding debut on British soil. It was a debut of extraordinary proportions. Jockey Guyon was aboard Byword, an Andre Fabre pupil, in the Group I Prince of Wales Stakes and Byword was the 5/2 favorite. Guyon’s audience included the British monarch and the Royal family. The school boyish-looking Guyon showed maturity beyond his years when steering the favorite to a heart-warming victory. Guyon and Byword were not worse than fourth, hit the front midstretch and stayed on.
In June 2008, when I was at Chantilly for the French Derby, I noticed a name that I could not recognize in the jockeys’ roster. Maxime Guyon was riding an odds on favorite (Darley-owned) in a listed race and came through and that was my first glimpse of the precocious riding sensation. Guyon was again in the news last year when he competed against Suraj Narredu in a jockeys’ competition in Mauritius.
Here are some interesting numbers. Trainer Andre Fabre, the perennial French training champion, has been the top trainer in his country 21 times. Maxime Guyon is 21. Is 21 the magic number? Byword was giving Fabre his seventh winner at Royal Ascot. Fabre won the 2007 Prince of Wales with Manduro, Stephen Pasquier up. It was one-two in the Prince of Wales for Prince Khalid Abdullah. Twice Over, trained by Sir Henry Cecil and ridden by Tom Queally, overcame road trouble to salvage the runner-up berth. The Prince’s Workforce was a runaway winner in the Epsom Derby on June 5. It has been an extremely productive year for Prince Khalid Abdullah.
In his last start, Byword was one half length behind Goldikova in the 1800-metre Prix d’Isphahan in late May. Goldikova’s win in the Queen Anne on Tuesday became a clear advertisement to Byword’s chances in the Prince of Wales.
Jockey Guyon answered questions through an interpreter. “I cannot thank Mr Fabre enough. I am delighted to have the opportunity to ride here. I walked the track and watched a few videos as I had not been here before. It is different from other tracks.”
When Andre Fabre speaks, people listen and listen carefully. “This horse (Byword) has the ability. I was a bit worried about an inexperienced jockey but he had a perfect ride.”
Talking about future races for Byword, Fabre stated, “I wanted Byword to race at Royal Ascot. This is the best course in the world. The races are run at a good pace which they are not always in France. I am not thinking about the Arc which is far off. Byword, I think, may not go farther than 10 furlongs.”
Byword was given a 10-1 quote for the Arc de Triomphe in early October at Longchamp.
A note or two about Byword’s pedigree. Anil Mukhi is better equipped to discuss pedigree matters. I shall give you the facts. Peintre Celebre is the sire. Binche, by Woodman, is the dam. Peintre Celebre is by Nureyev who is by Northern Dancer. Peintre Celebre, trained by Andre Fabre and ridden by Olivier Peslier, won the 1997 Arc. It was the fastest-run Arc. The time was 2 minutes 24.6 seconds. The winning margin was five lengths. Peintre Celebre’s mother is Peinture Bleue whose sire is Alydar, second to Affirmed in the Triple Crown races in 1978. Peintre Celebre was foaled in 1994.
Wednesday’s Royal Ascot action began with the Jersey Stakes. Rainfall, Ryan Moore up, won from Red Jazz. The time was 1 24.94 for the 1400-metre race. Shakespearean, the 3-1 favorite ridden by Frankie Dettori, tracked the leaders and came up empty in the final 400 metres. Mark Johnston trains Rainfall who could be backed at 8-1.
Jockey Moore won the second as well. It was the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Strawberrydaiquiri, a 9-2 chance, who lasted in a photo over Spacious and John Murtagh. Spacious was trying to win the Windsor Forest Stakes (1600 metres) for the second consecutive year. The race was run in 1 38.04. Strawberrydaiquiri was headed late in the lane and fought back tenaciously to get the verdict. Antara, the 4-1 favorite, was prominent and did not respond when the heat was on.
Frankie Dettori opened his account with an off pace win aboard Invisible Man, a 33-1 chance in the 1600-metre Royal Hunt Cup. Twenty nine ran. Invisible Man, from the Saeed bin Suroor barn, ran the 1600 metres in 1 37.16 seconds. Invisible Man, held up on the far side, found his best stride in the last 200 and found his seam. Dandy Boy, Colm O’Donoghue up, was the unplaced 10-1 favorite.
The Queen Mary Stakes came next. The 1000-metre sprint went to Maqaasid, a John Gosden-trained filly who was ridden by Richard Hills. Maqaasid, a debut winner at Sandown on May 20 despite a tardy beginning, is now two for two. The Green Desert filly was the 9-4 favorite. Maqaasid ran the 1000-metre race in 59.17 seconds and won by a neck over Meow, the Irish invader ridden by John Murtagh.
The last race on Wednesday was the 1600-metre Sandringham Stakes. Timepiece, from Sir Cecil’s yard, made amends for her failure in the Epsom Oaks. In the hands of Tom Queally, Timepiece, who could be bet at 7-1 at a place or two, proved the best in the 17-runner field. The time was 1 38.53 seconds. It was another win for Prince Khalid Abdullah and minor recompense for Sir Henry Cecil whose Twice Over may have gone closer in the Prince of Wales if not for traffic woes.
As Wednesday ended, Ryan Moore became the 10-11 favorite to win the jockeys’ title at Royal Ascot. His two winners put him on even terms with Richard Hughes who was available at 2-1. Dettori was in double digits.
I understand I am behind in posting my blogs. I am doing my daily newspaper work plus writing a story or two for other sources. The plate is full and I type with one finger. That is time consuming. There are days when the words do not come readily.
Keep the messages coming. If you have criticism, let me hear it. The more attention I get, the more energy I’ll have.