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Eighth at Tramore off 65 to Group 2 hero - the unstoppable rise of Baron Samedi

On the same high summer day Dream Of Dreams was landing the Hungerford Stakes at Newbury and Frankie Dettori was wowing the Deauville crowds on Mishriff, Baron Samedi finished eighth of 11 at Tramore off an official handicap mark of 65. It was August 15.

Ten days later the son of Harbour Watch showed instant progress for a gelding operation when scoring by a short head on heavy ground at Cork. 

Still, neither Joseph O'Brien nor owners LECH Racing could have envisaged what was to follow, as Baron Samedi went tearing up the Irish handicap ranks with further wins at Down Royal, Navan and Listowel.

Even then it required a bold piece of race planning to target Sunday's Group 2 Prix du Conseil de Paris, won in recent seasons by Pride, Cirrus Des Aigles and Prince Bishop.

Yet the plan paid off in spectacular style as Baron Samedi, under Mickael Barzalona, stuck to his guns to hold the persistent challenge of fellow three-year-old Mare Australis.

"Mickael gave him a very good ride and although it was a step up in class, the owners suggested we had a go at this race," said O'Brien. "On paper it was a stiff task going from a handicap straight into a Group 2, but he answered the call. 

"He was gelded, but the other thing is that he's quite a tall horse and he's just matured with time. As he went up in distance he just got better and better. I supposed next year he'll be campaigned in middle distance Group races."

Racing Post Ratings has Baron Samedi on 108 for his Longchamp success – just the 51 up from from that disappointing effort at Tramore.

Three more who rose from obscurity

Princess Zoe
Had Princess Zoe scored later on the same Longchamp card as Baron Samedi it would have been a notable double for horses who made the breakthrough at Group level after a rapid rise through the ranks. On her first start for Tony Mullins at Navan on June 23 the five-year-old German import was beaten off a mark of 65. She then rattled off five wins, culminating in the Group 1 Prix du Cadran over Arc weekend under 18-year-old Joey Sheridan. 

Hunt Ball
Keiran Burke had become Hunt Ball's fifth different trainer when the then six-year-old landed a Folkestone novice handicap chase under Aidan Coleman when rated just 69. Through the winter he then accumulated a further five successes and lined up under Barry Geraghty at Kempton in February 2012 with a new mark of 127. The pair won by ten lengths and that was only just the start of the fun. The following month Hunt Ball bolted up by eight lengths in the novice handicap chase at the Cheltenham Festival, before rounding off the year with a fine third to Follow The Plan in the Grade 1 Aintree Bowl. His final rating for the year was 157, a rise of 88lb

Soba 
The late David Chapman enjoyed a brilliant campaign in 1982 with Soba, who began in a maiden at Thirsk off the back of nine fruitless starts at two. She scored no fewer than 11 times in 14 starts and rose a phenomenal 55lb. The highlight was when she raced alone up the stands rails to rout her opponents in the Stewards' Cup at Goodwood. Nor was it a flash in the pan, as the following year Soba ran in all the major Group sprints and, were it not for the emergence of the exceptional Habibti, would have won a July Cup, a Haydock Sprint Cup and a Prix de l'Abbaye.

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