183rd Qatar Prix du Jockey Club: Ace Impact storms home in record time

5 June 2023

Jockey Club 23 Trophées

Photo scoopdyga.com

Sunday 4th June 2023, Chantilly Racecourse (Oise). - Deauville-based trainer (Calvados) Jean-Claude Rouget won his sixth €1.5m Qatar Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby, Gr1) on Sunday at Chantilly with Ace Impact (Cracksman), owned by Serge Stempniak and ridden by Cristian Demuro. The winner had been undefeated in three races. He established a new race record time of 2'02''63, nearly three-tenths better than his stablemate Sottsass in 2019.

Ridden patiently, he chased down the favourite and leader Big Rock (Rock of Gibraltar), who had created a gap from the start of the final bend and left him three and a half lengths behind. Marhaba Ya Sanafi (Muhaarar), the winner of the Emirates Poule d’Essai des Poulains (French 2,000, Gr1), took third place ahead of the other race favourite, Feed the Flame (Kingman), who didn't speed up decisively in the final straight.

Ace Impact debuted at Cagnes-sur-Mer this winter, where he won over an all-weather 1m2f trip before confirming on the turf at Bordeaux. He then won on this same Chantilly course in the Prix de Suresnes (L).

Ace Impact was born in Ireland but was bred in France by Mrs Waltraut Spanner. Jean-Claude Rouget bought him for €75,000 at the Deauville sales, as a yearling, where he was consigned by Elise Drouet's Domaine de l'Étang. His Nathaniel 3-year-old sister, named Adlon Rose, was sold for €10,000, coming out of training, to Un Crin d'Or stables, in December '21 in Deauville. His Gleneagles brother was born in 2021.


Jean-Claude Rouget (trainer of Ace Impact, 1st, Padishakh, 7th, and Rajapour, 10th) - Deauville (Calvados)

"We've always loved Ace Impact. Last year, he was at Pau and he came up to our training stables in Deauville with the idea of debuting in the Prix de Crèvecoeur. But of all my horses, he was the only one to have a winter coat in the middle of summer! I call him Mr No Problem, beacause that's how he is. I've never had any issues with him, other than him managing to get a winter coat in the middle of summer! So we gave him all the time he needed. He started at 3 years old, at Cagnes-sur-Mer. That day, I saw something... He beat Axiome, a colt that looked absolutely splendid and he ran a final straight like he did today! Except that today, he did it against Big Rock. We thought he was good, but he needed to prove it. And he is a very good colt.

He has the required profile to succeed in the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. He has the conformation and the action. I prefer him on good ground like all good horses and he would need to be able to do like Sottsass, who was able to win on fast ground as on heavy ground. There are races before the Arc and the program isn't yet established but, obviously, we are tempted.

I believe having three races under his belt before the Qatar Prix du Jockey Club is very good. Two races is a bit tight. When Sottsass ran the Qatar Prix du Jockey Club, I wasn't over-confiident because of the ground and he had stunned us; like Ace Impact did again today. Sottsass was exceptional, capable of winning on all grounds. Ace Impact proves he is very good too. He is in the Eclipse Stakes (in England) but we will reflect on what comes next. And I'm very pleased to see a French owner's colours winning.

Rajapour and Padishakh are probably limited in distance and were too keen. We'll see them again over shorter distances."

Serge Stempniak (owner of Ace Impact, 1st)

"At the start of the final straight, I was looking at him travelling second to last, with Big Rock in front, who is a real powerhouse... When his rider Cristian Demuro pulled out, the colt was just impressive! He won and - in addition - by far. Before the off, I thought today we were fighting for third place. There was Big Rock, but also Feed the Flame, who was harder to judge because he hadn't run much.

I'm impressed by his attitude... We wanted to put a red hood on but he shook it off and made us understand he didn't need it. After the race, he returned to the stables very calmly... he knows he's done his job for the day...

I started owning racehorses early in the 2000s, with claiming horses. Little by little, we got here but I could never have imagined this. Jean-Claude Rouget didn't say much to me before the race. He doesn't talk much. He just said he was confident..."

Cristian Demuro (rider of Ace Impact, 1st)

"I didn't want to put him in the red from the start, because the race started a bit fast for him. In the straight, I had Rajapour on my right and Feed the Flame on my left. I decided to follow Feed the Flame, thinking he would take me far. I was above the competiton for the whole straight. When I took him out, he went really fast."

Christopher Head (trainer of Big Rock, 2nd) - Chantilly (Oise)

"Big Rock ran into a hard one today. But he had his race because his performance is really very good. Ace Impact seems much better than Big Rock: he achieved something exceptional. However, with the pace we had set during the course, the bar was quite high. Nevertheless, I'm very pleased with Big Rock."

Andreas Schutz (trainer of Marhaba Ya Sanafi, 3rd) - Chantilly (Oise)

"I was very pleased with the horse's form, unfortunately, the race didn't go as we had planned. We thought he would have been closer to the front. In the pack, he was a bit shy, but when he got the opening, he accelerated really well. He has already won the race we were aiming for, the Emirates Poule d’Essai des Poulains, and this third place in the Qatar Prix du Jockey Club is a bonus."

Pascal Bary (trainer of Feed the Flame, 4th) - Chantilly (Oise)

"Feed The Flame lacked a bit of maturity and competition. He's a colt who still needs to learn. When he approached in the straight line, he accelerated really well. But when Christophe Soumillon asked him to accelerate even stronger, he perhaps showed us that the track was a bit too fast for him. I also think that the first two are better than him. He will be better on a slightly softer track. Feed The Flame will continue to learn his trade. Ace Impact was impressive. We'll see tomorrow how the horse comes back, but the Grand Prix de Paris is a possibility for Feed The Flame."

John Gosden (trainer of Epitectus, 5th) - Great Britain

"He had a good course and accelerated well. He held on for third place for a long time and only gave up right at the end. It's a good performance."