Royal Marine gave Godolphin another big-race success when powering home in the Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at ParisLongchamp.
The Saeed bin Suroor-trained colt took the giant leap from winning a Doncaster maiden – where he beat the promising Turgenev – to a Group One contest in his stride, as he burst the bubble of the Freddy Head-trained Anodor.
Oisin Murphy – who has also had a superb 2018 – had Royal Marine in second place behind the pace-setting Broome from Aidan O’Brien’s stable.
Murphy sent the son of Raven’s Pass into the lead a furlong out and kept up the gallop to score by a neck from Broome, with Anodor only third having had every chance.
Bin Suroor said: “The two-year-olds this year have done really well and Royal Marine has been good since he won at Doncaster last time.
“I talked to Sheikh Mohammed and he made the decision to run him in this race. Now I have to go back to him again to ask about his future.
“We’ll get him back to Dubai. What I like about him is he stays well, but he also has plenty of speed.
“I thought Oisin Murphy gave him a very good ride as the horse took a strong hold.”
He added: “He’s a big, strong horse and in the future he could be anything.
“He’s still a baby and he will be better in the future. We’ll talk to Sheikh Mohammed and make a decision about what we are going to do.
“Sheikh Mohammed sent me nice horses this year. I’m very positive for the future.”
O’Brien said of Broome: “He’s finished for the year, but he’s a horse that I’m really looking forward to.
“I don’t think he was finished – he was coming back at them a bit at the end.”
Know more about Sport360 Application
Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby is hopeful Wild Illusion can claim another top-level success in the Prix de l’Opera at ParisLongchamp.
The daughter of Dubawi won the Prix Marcel Boussac on Arc day last season.
She began the current campaign by finishing fourth in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket, second in the Oaks at Epsom and second again in the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Wild Illusion rediscovered the winning trail when dropped to a mile and a quarter for the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood and she sticks to that distance on her return to France this weekend.
Appleby said: “She came out of Goodwood in great order and hopefully she goes to Paris with a great chance.
“I think we saw at Goodwood that 10 furlongs is right up her street and I can’t see any negatives, to be honest.
“With the way the weather is, we’re quite relaxed. She has form on quick ground and slow ground, so we’re not too worried either way.”
Wild Illusion is the likely favourite in a 16-strong field, with the William Haggas-trained Urban Fox, Sir Michael Stoute’s Desert Diamond and Saeed bin Suroor’s Winter Lightning also making the trip from Britain.
Aidan O’Brien saddles Magic Wand, last year’s winner Rhododendron and Athena.
He said: “Magic Wand is in good form. She ran a very good race there in the Vermeille and we don’t think the drop in trip will bother her.
“Rhododendron seems to have come out of the Irish Champion well and Athena ran a good race in the Irish Champion and seems in good form since.”
Lady Frankel was only beaten half a length into third place 12 months ago and trainer Andre Fabre is expecting her to be involved once more.
“I quite fancy Lady Frankel. She’s a good filly and I thought she should have won the race last year, she was very unlucky,” said Fabre.
“She’s been lightly raced this season for a reason, I’ve been aiming for this time of year.”
The first of six Group Ones on a stellar card is the Qatar Prix Marcel Boussac.
Appleby saddles Wild Illusion’s half-sister Ceratonia, who was narrowly beaten by the reopposing Rocques in a Group Three here last month.
“She’s a half-sister to Wild Illusion, but they are slightly different types,” said Appleby.
“Wild Illusion wears cheek pieces, which definitely help her, whereas Ceratonia has worn a hood and we’re taking it off this weekend.
“We were happy with her last run, I think that experience will bring her on and hopefully she has a live chance.”
The task confronting Godolphin’s tireless performer Tally at Flemington on Saturday is one of the toughest in world racing, but it is one he will take on with all his usual honesty.
Tally is among the challengers to the world champion mare Winx as she attempts to make the G1 Turnbull Stakes her 28th successive victory and her 21st G1 win.
Tally, who like Winx is by Darley stallion Street Cry, has won almost A$1 million from his seven wins and eight placings and comes to the Turnbull off a solid first-up fifth over a sprint trip at Rosehill and will be a lot better suited at 2000m here.
“His first-up run was full of merit, although this is a much harder race,” said trainer James Cummings.
“We won’t be putting too much pressure on him up against some serious Cups chances and with Winx in the race.”
Tally is joined on the Flemington card by a Godolphin contingent that includes Osborne Bulls in the G2 Gilgai Stakes, Savatiano in the G2 Blazer Stakes, Mercury in the Listed Maribyrnong Trial and Ranier in the Listed Poseidon Stakes.
Osborne Bulls goes down a grade after his solid, G1 fifth at Caulfield last time out and has good prospects of returning to the form that stamped him as one of Australia’s most progressive young sprinters.
“He’s in very good shape coming out of the high-pressure of the Sir Rupert Clarke, Stakes,” Cummings said.
“Having missed a run going into it, he just didn’t quite have the chance to go ahead like he needed to get to Group One standard.”
Cummings rates Savatiano highly, particularly if she can race truly.
“She came out of her Newcastle race in good condition after having a wide run” he said.
“She throws herself around like a wrecking ball, but we’re hoping for a better run and a better result here.”
The appearance of Mercury in Melbourne’s first two-year-old race of the season is greatly anticipated.
The colt, a half-brother to Osborne Bulls, is the first offspring of Darley stallion Brazen Beau to race.
“He was a lovely yearling and he looked good in his action in a straight-track jump out last week,” Cummings said.
“He should be strong late here, which would be great to see.”
Ranier is looking to discard his maiden status after placings at each of his four starts
“His form continues to stack up,” Cummings said.
“He stays at seven furlongs and should be nicely suited back to Flemington where he ran so well at his first start.”