Van Gogh produced an impressive burst of speed to win the Group One Criterium International for Aidan O'Brien at Saint-Cloud.
Pierre-Charles Boudot had Van Gogh anchored last of the six-runner field until making swift progress into the straight and bagging the rail position on the stands side.
On his seventh start of a busy campaign, O'Brien’s American Pharoah colt then quickly put distance between himself and the rest, and at the post the 18-5 (PMU) shot (3-1 industry SP) had four lengths in hand from rallying long-time leader Normandy Bridge.
Van Gogh appeared to relish the heavy ground on his first attempt at the top level, going one better than when second to One Ruler in Newmarket’s Group Three Autumn Stakes.
Winning jockey Boudot told Sky Sports Racing: "He is impressive.
"Aidan told me before the race that he needed cover, for a nice trip and be relaxed – and he has a nice turn of foot.
"But he is still green and tricky when he arrived in front, but he won in very good style."
🏆 Van Gogh sacré lors du Critérium International— Equidia (@equidia) October 24, 2020
Van Gogh (@PCBOUDOT / A. O'Brien) obtient le premier groupe I de sa carrière. Il succède à Alson au palmarès de cette épreuve.
🥈 Normandy Bridge
🥉 Jadoomi pic.twitter.com/Nh6pj4WRAv
Mark Johnston’s Gear Up secured a British victory in the other Group One on the card, the Criterium de Saint-Cloud springing a surprise at 27-1 (PMU) (18-1 industry SP) under James Doyle.
Last seen when fourth in the Royal Lodge Stakes and successful before then in the Group Three Acomb at York, Gear Up took this move to 10 furlongs in his stride.
Always to the fore in a race run at only a steady pace in tough conditions, the Teofilo colt appeared vulnerable as the pack closed into the straight, but he refused to buckle and held on with great determination to win by a neck from Botanik.
Jean-Claude Rouget’s previously unbeaten favourite Makaloun and the well-backed Bolshoi Ballet, for O’Brien, were only third and fifth respectively.
Doyle, riding Gear Up for the first time, explained he decided on a change of tactics after speaking to Franny Norton, who had been in the saddle at Newmarket.
He said: "I have to say thank you to Franny Norton, who rang me yesterday and told me all about the horse.
"He just felt in the Royal Lodge that he gave the leader a bit of a soft time. He felt at the time it was the right thing to do – but in hindsight, it didn’t play to the horse’s strengths.
"He said get him into a nice rhythm, and wherever you’re happy, whether that’s in front or taking a lead.
"It wasn’t necessarily the plan to bounce out and make all, but as we know, these horses of Mark Johnston’s are a joy to ride, very relaxed and don’t tend to pull or overdo themselves."
🏆 Gear Up matte la France dans le Critérium de Saint-Cloud !— Equidia (@equidia) October 24, 2020
Gear Up (J. Doyle / M. Johnston) remporte le premier groupe I de sa carrière ! Il succède au palmarès à Mkfancy au palmarès de cette épreuve.