Trainer Brian Meehan expressed his frustration as Isaac Shelby settled for second place behind the surprising winner, Marhaba Ya Sanafi, in the Emirates Poule d’Essai des Poulains at ParisLongchamp.
Isaac Shelby, a colt who had won two out of three starts as a juvenile, including the Group Two Superlative Stakes, made an impressive comeback in the Greenham at Newbury three weeks ago. Meehan decided to bypass the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket and aimed for the French equivalent instead, with high hopes of claiming Classic success under jockey Sean Levey.
The Night Of Thunder colt performed admirably, surging ahead against the far rail in the straight. However, he couldn’t withstand the late charge from the relatively unfancied Marhaba Ya Sanafi.
While Meehan acknowledged his stable star’s commendable performance, he believed that Isaac Shelby did not showcase his full potential in the race.
Meehan said: “We were a bit frustrated by the lack of pace, especially in the first part of the race. It wasn’t fast enough for him, but he ran very well.
“I’m delighted for the horse, for his owner and for the team at home.
“He hasn’t shown the full extent of his talent yet. The best is yet to come, especially in races where there will be more pace.”
Meehan confirmed that Isaac Shelby’s next destination will be Royal Ascot, where he is entered in both the St James’s Palace Stakes and the Commonwealth Cup.
He added: “We are thinking of Royal Ascot, and in particular the St James’s Palace Stakes for him.”
Marhaba Ya Sanafi, trained by Andreas Schutz and ridden by Mickael Barzalona, had previously been no match for American Flag in the Prix de Fontainebleau. However, the tables turned in the Poule d’Essai des Poulains as Marhaba Ya Sanafi outperformed the favorite, who failed to respond for jockey Christophe Soumillon and finished a somewhat disappointing fourth.
Schutz said: “I’m delighted. I was expecting a great performance from him but relative to finishing in the top five (rather than winning). I was also hoping for more rain.
“He had run well in the Prix de Fontainebleau and I had expected him to improve. The colt had worked well in the company of other of my horses, but I don’t necessarily have much to go on in the morning.
“I have won a lot of Classics in Germany, so I was able to have a calm outlook going into the race. It’s down to my experience!
“I have been in France for seven years and I hope that this victory will mark a new turning point in my career.
“The colt is entered in the Qatar Prix du Jockey-Club, which seems like the logical next step.”
As for Breizh Sky, who secured third place, the focus now shifts to Royal Ascot for the talented colt.
Trainer Alessandro Botti said: “It was great. Before the race I was still worried about the draw. But Maxime Guyon rode a great race.
“As things stand, he’s scheduled to go to Royal Ascot for a 1,400-metre race on the straight course. We will try to prepare him for that. It will depend on how the horse recovers.”