Dance with the Devil
The presence of Aljamaaheer towards the top of the betting for the Diamond Jubilee Stakes is resonant not only of the colt’s ability but also the lack of a standout sprinter.
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There’s no need to labour a well-known point and Roger Varian’s colt is certainly an exciting addition to the ranks having shaped encouragingly in the Abernant back in April.
Prior to that, he had finished eighth of 13 behind Moonlight Cloud in the Marois, beaten over 17 lengths.
He may not have given his running that day but there is another entrant in Saturday’s Group One who has twice finished within four and a half lengths of the brilliant mare who is available at three times (and four times in a place) the price.
Like Aljamaaheer, he isn’t proven over sprint trips having raced just three times over six furlongs and he hardly excelled, winning on debut, finishing second in a Listed race on his reappearance the following season before finishing a two and a half length fifth in a Group Three later that season.
American Devil's fifth place finishes in the Maurice de Gheest and Foret are not the only pieces of form that suggest he can mix it at the top level as he was beaten under two lengths in the Lagadere as a juvenile and passed the post in third in the 2012 Maurice de Gheest before being placed fourth for causing interference.
All of those performances came for Jon Van Handenhove but he has now joined Eric LIbaud and has won both starts over seven furlongs in impressive fashion and his new handler pinpointed Saturday’s Group One as an ideal target after his latest success.
"Its because he has so much speed. The logical place for a horse like him is Ascot over 1,200 metres and that is where he will go."
Libaud is an infrequent visitor to these shores but he is no stranger to success in Britain having saddled Vision D’Etat to victory in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes.
The fact that Libaud deems the five-year-old worthy of lining up on Saturday week is noteworthy in itself and he has shown sufficient dash this season to believe that he can cope with the drop back in trip.
French sprinters have been much derided in recent years but the more recent performances of Wizz Kid, Catcall and, more recently, Rangali have gone a long way to changing that and we could be about to add another name to that list.
At 25/1 and upwards, it’s worth paying to find out.