Bred & raised at Sumbe, Belbek wins the Gr1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at ParisLongchamp.
Ayear is a long time without a group 1 victory in the world of Andre Fabre. The legendary trainer ended his lengthiest drought between top-level wins for more than a decade when Belbek caused an upset in the Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (G1) Oct. 2 at Longchamp. Four races later, the 76-year-old Fabre took the Prix de l'Opera Longines (G1) with 66-1 shot Place du Carrousel.It was on this card 12 months ago that Fabre last won at the highest level with Qatar Prix Marcel Boussac Criterium des Pouliches (G1) heroine Zellie. His winner to kick off Arc day 2022 was much more of a surprise, returning at 17-1 odds under Mickael Barzalona.Belbek had looked a high-quality prospect when landing the Prix du Bois Longines-Fonds European de l'Elevage (G3) at Chantilly in June, but the wheels had fallen off when safely held in races won by Ballydoyle raiders Blackbeard and The Antarctic on his next two starts.However, stepping up to seven furlongs for the first time brought out a career-best from the Nurlan Bizakov homebred, and Fabre is now even considering a tilt at the Vertem Futurity Trophy (G1) over a mile.
"We always thought he had lots of ability, but he didn't find the right conditions," said Fabre, who was winning the Lagardere for a sixth time."He failed to settle last time in the Prix de Cabourg (G3), but with softer ground and a better pace, he settled better here. He's a good-looking, well-bred colt—he's a good horse."Asked whether he felt the son of Showcasing could stay a mile, Fabre said: "This was the question mark, but we will think about Doncaster next, or something like that. We'll see how he comes out of this first."
The Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere is a Breeders' Cup Challenge race whose winner receives an automatic qualifying position, and fees paid, into the 2022 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1T) on World Championship weekend Nov. 4 and 5 at Keeneland.Paddy Power introduced Belbek at 12-1 for the Doncaster (G1) Oct. 22, although he will need to be supplemented at a cost of £17,500.Delivered beautifully by Barzalona, Belbek got up in the nick of time to win by a neck to deny a spirited effort from Gamestop, who reversed the form of his previous third in the Prix la Rochette (G3) behind Tigrais, who was sixth here, and Breizh Sky, who finished third.Gamestop's trainer, Christophe Ferland, said: "He's run a wonderful race and he's a colt I've always loved. I think that's him done for the year. I don't think he would stay the mile of the Criterium International."The race lost some of its luster when The Antarctic was withdrawn through a veterinary certificate, while favorite Shartash, trained by Johnny Murtagh, could not land a telling blow and was beaten 2 1/2 lengths in fourth.Shartash's jockey, Ben Coen, said: "It was a little bit disappointing. He did a bit too much with me early on. Seven furlongs might have stretched him on the day."
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