04/09/2017 3:49PM

France: Cloth of Stars narrowly prevails in Prix d'Harcourt

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Heavily favored Cloth of Stars won the Group 2 Prix d’Harcourt by a neck over fellow 4-year-old Mekthaal on Sunday at Chantilly Racecourse in France.

Trained by Andre Fabre for Godolphin, Cloth of Stars had a race-fitness edge on his rivals, having already won the Prix Exbury on March 19 at Saint-Cloud. He nevertheless ran like a fresh horse, going along keenly near the rear of the field under Mickael Barzalona before rallying to the lead in the final furlong. Mekhtaal was 1 1/2 lengths better than Maniaco, another 4-year-old, with Robin of Navan fourth.

Cloth of Stars, an Irish-bred by Sea the Stars out of Strawberry Fledge, by Kingmambo, was a Group 2 winner last year at 3 during a campaign that was cut short in July. He had improved considerably on his 2-year-old form, and with a pair of victories already in his pocket this year, he has a chance to make an impression on more important early-season European races.

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Mekhtaal, another Sea the Stars colt who showed promise last year at 3, got his campaign off to a solid start, taking the lead more than three furlongs from the wire and holding gamely for a clear second. Over “good” ground, the race was run in a snappy 1:58.77 for about 1 1/4 miles.

Alice Springs beaten by Diamond Fields in Ireland

The Group 3 Gladness Stakes for older horses over about seven furlongs at Naas brought out a couple horses familiar to American race-followers, with Diamond Fields rallying late to beat Alice Springs by a half-length.

Trained by Tommy Stack, Diamond Fields, a 4-year-old daughter of Fastnet Rock, started three times in New York last year, finishing third in the Lake Placid at Saratoga and second in the Sands Point at Belmont. Racing over yielding ground with Chris Hayes aboard, Diamond Fields swooped down on the outside and caught Alice Springs in the final furlong after that filly had collared pacesetting Blue De Vega to take the lead. Diamond Fields was timed in a slow 1:30.05 in a slow-paced race.

The Aidan O’Brien-trained Alice Springs was making her first start since finishing 10th in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. The 4-year-old Alice Springs prefers firmer going than she found Sunday and was a multiple Group 1 winner last year at age 3.