Kizuna edges thrilling Niel
Kizuna just edged out Ruler Of The World in a tremendous finale involving two Derby winners in the Qatar Prix Niel, the first of the three Arc trials, at Longchamp.
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It was Japanese Derby hero Kizuna who got the verdict on the nod over Epsom victor Ruler Of The World in a tight finish.
Despite having endured a troubled passage to the line, Ryan Moore brought the Aidan O'Brien-trained colt with a late run and there was just a whisker in it.
A photo-finish was called, with the Shozo Sasaki-trained Kizuna, ridden by Yutaka Take, getting the verdict by a short head.
The Andre Fabre-trained Ocovango was third, with his stablemate Flintshire, who had gone into the race as ante-post favourite for the Arc, only fourth.
A delighted Sasaki said: "This was his first run abroad so I'm very pleased.
"He was about 80% compared with the Japanese Derby, so we will work hard to get the final 20% before the Arc."
Of Epsom hero Ruler Of The World, off the course since disappointing in the Irish Derby, O'Brien commented: "He ran really well and I thought he'd won.
"He was coming back from a break so you would have to be delighted with that."
Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager for owner Prince Khalid Abdullah, said of the vanquished Flintshire: "He has run a perfectly respectable race but the ground is soft and he can't show his best on it.
"As to running in the Arc, we'll have to wait and see. We want to run, but the ground will have to come into it."
Bookmakers Sky Bet pushed Flintshire out from 5/1 to 8/1 for the Arc, cutting Ruler Of The World from 16/1 to 10/1 and Kizuna from 14/1 to 8/1.
"The first two home must now be regarded as serious contenders at Longchamp in three weeks' time," said spokesman Michael Shinners.