Europe has been searching for a leader for its older mile division and in Romanised – who streaked to an impressive success in one of the most reliable indicators in the calendar – it may transpire that the answer was hiding in plain sight.
Adding a Prix du Haras de Fresnay-le-Buffard Jacques Le Marois to his Classic success from 15 months ago, Romanised may have done just that, building on an upward trajectory that had been evident in each of his last three starts.
And as no-excuses clean victories go, this was as clearcut as it gets, as Billy Lee guided the son of Holy Roman Emperor past two pacemakers to stretch away from Shaman, with Line Of Duty in third and Coronation Stakes winner Watch Me fourth.
It is a quirk of the mile calendar that you need a reasonable quotient of stamina at the start of the year before speed becomes the absolute prerequisite from the Sussex Stakes onwards.
Fortunately for Condon and owner Robert Ng, that increase in tempo is coinciding with Romanised becoming more and more pacy with time and age.
“We used to see that speed in training but when he won the Guineas he looked like he just outstayed everything else and that he could go a mile and a quarter,” said Condon.
“He’s just demonstrating that speed we’ve always seen and they ran 1m22s at the Curragh for the seven furlongs, which is the quickest Minstrel Stakes in 14 years.
Condon added: “I think you’ll maybe see him in the Foret or he may go for the Breeders’ Cup Mile. If he goes Breeders’ Cup Mile, he may just stay home at Leopardstown on Irish Champions Weekend [for the Boomerang Stakes].”
Paddy Power installed Romanised as a 14-1 chance for Santa Anita, while Condon believes he has a different horse on his hands this year.
“He won the Guineas at a big price and we campaigned him ambitiously because we’ve always felt he was a very nice horse. After the Guineas last year he went to Ascot and didn’t have a great experience there. This year he seems to be mentally better and more mature, he’s an improving horse and you could see it today. It was a very good performance.”
Lee said he had expected to have many more horses in front of him than behind him but was always in the perfect position behind Shaman and the two trailblazers.
Condon worked for the sponsoring Niarchos family as a young man and Lee also felt a debt of gratitude towards the same quarter.
“It’s particularly special because they provided me with a first Group 1 and it’s lovely that I’ve won another and they sponsor it,” said Lee. “My lad’s just getting more uncomplicated with each race and it was a good performance.
“Shane Foley was riding him last year and then he took the job with Jessica Harrington so he wasn’t able to commit to Ken and the horse. Luckily enough Ken gave me the call earlier in the year and thanks to Willie McCreery and Paddy Twomey, they had no problem and so riding for all three is a pleasure.”
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