Southern France returned to winning ways in the Comer Group International Irish St Leger Trial Stakes at the Curragh on Friday.
Aidan O’Brien’s colt has kept smart company all season, running a fine race to be second in the Yorkshire Cup at York in May.
Last seen finishing fourth to Stradivarius in the Goodwood Cup, Ryan Moore’s mount was never far from the pace set by Master Of Reality, who increased the tempo with three furlongs to run.
An excellent third in the Ascot Gold Cup, it looked like Joseph O’Brien’s Master Of Reality would go a couple of places better in this Group Three contest, but Moore got to work on Southern France and drove him to the front a furlong out.
Staying on strongly from there, the 5-2 favourite had two lengths in hand of Downdraft at the line, as O’Brien claimed the race for the sixth successive year. Master Of Reality was third, ahead of Capri.
O’Brien said: “It just takes a bit of time to get those older horses fit. He gets the trip well.
“Seamus (Heffernan) said Capri isn’t fit yet, but we’ve a month now to go (to the Irish Leger) and we’ll start leaning on him a little bit harder.
“The two of them will come back here for the Irish Leger.”