A fine Sunday of racing, but not at home – the action’s all abroad, including the Poulains and Pouliches at Longchamp, and Group action at Leopardstown along with graded action at Killarney over jumps. Let’s start with the French Guineas.
2.55 – The Emirates Poule d’Essai des Poulains (Group 1) (3yo Colts) (Turf) (3yo): The one big factor to consider at Longchamp tomorrow is the ground, which has been described as heavy. That is a gamechanger for both classics, as precious few horses have form on anything approaching soft, let alone heavy ground. One of them is Persian King, who was deeply impressive in the Prix Fontainebleau and who was of course, victorious over Magna Grecia in the Autumn Stakes. On anything approaching good ground one could contemplate backing him, even at these extremely cramped odds, but this ground is surely too much of an unknown.
That is not the case with Shaman, who is the clear choice here. He couldn’t cope with the speed of Anodor and others when upped in class as a juvenile, but in two runs as a 3 year old he has won the Prix Ominum II and also the Prix la Force when he overcame early keenness to win by a good neck. The first of those victories came on heavy ground at Saint-Cloud, and it is the only heavy ground form in the race, and what’s more, it’s over this trip too.
Anodor, the only horse to have beaten Persian King so far, would be of interest on better ground despite a wide draw and Grainges, who was possibly unlucky not to take the Djebel on his return, has more going for him than most including soft ground form. Munitions was the winner of that race, and there has to be a worry that he find this ground too soft.
Senza Limiti is a nice horse but the limitations of his Kempton reappearance are exposed by the fact that the winner Name The Wind was last in the 2,000 Guineas. We also don’t know how he will cope with the surface. That’s an issue for San Donato, who progressed a lot towards the backend of last season, No Needs Never, who ought to improve for a step up in trip, and Van Beethoven, who has become disappointing.
Duke Of Hazard, well behind Persian King in the Fontainebleau, needs to improve whilst Simply Striking, beaten on every pattern try, had a peigree which suggests this trip will be in range but not the form to back it up.
Advice: 2 pts each/way Shaman (9/1 Hills, 15/2 Ladbrokes)
3.30 – The Emirates Poule d’Essai des Pouliches (Group 1) (3yo Fillies) (Turf) (3yo): This is even more open than the Poulains (as tends to be the case) but there was nothing not to like about the win of Watch Me in the Imprudence and Francois Henri-Graffard’s filly makes the most appeal in a tight heat. A game winner of the Criterium Du Languedoc in November, crucially on heavy ground, she showed guts to drop down in trip at Maisons Laffite and wear down Suphala in the last strides. This test ought to suit her a great deal more and the form of her Toulouse win was franked by the runner up running third against Colts since and then winning afterwards. Stall 5 is also an ideal tactical position.
Castle Lady was an impressive winner of the Prix Grotte who probably has more improvement left in her, although this ground is a huge question mark for her. It’s less of a question mark for runner up Imperial Charm, who remains of interests
A clear second choice is East, who showed a really smart turn of foot to take a soft ground Hamilton maiden on debut and instantly stepped into Group company with a commanding performance in the Prix Thomas Bryon. Clearly worth stepping upto the top level, she went to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filles, when she could no answer the sheer pace of Newspaperoftrecord, but from a poor draw she ran with major credit and similar tactics should be good from stall 10.
She is the clear threat, with the form of the Prix Marcel-Boussac looking weak for the top level. Matematica, second there, is capable of better and has got her head in front, but she will likely need to improve. Rocques was a disappointing favorite when sixth here and then fifth in the Grotte, but she was better than that result suggested and she’s got soft ground wining form too.
Commes was a really taking debut winner at Deauville who was then beaten by Suphala and Serafina. They are two promising fillies but she might need to step forward again and she’s also unproven on the ground,
Coral Beach is Ballydole’s representative, an interesting one given the quality of the fillies they ran in the Newmarket Guineas. She ran 11 times before winning last year but ended it as the winner of the Killavullan Stakes – and in second was a subsequent Group winner. However, the ground is an issue. Silva, a wide margin winner of the UAE 1,000 might have her work cut out here.
Advice: 1 pt each/way Watch Me (13/2 Racebets, 11/2 general)
Other Group Races
Gold Vibe was a disappointment when last seen but if he repeats his Abbaye second he’s got a good chance in the Prix de Saint-Georges (1.35) and in the Prix Maurice Zilber – Fonds Europeen de l’Elevage (4.10) the front two of Lucie Manette and Spinning Memories could be worth taking on due to the very heavy ground.
There’s not much of huge betting interest after the final declarations. Broome was flawless in an eight length win of the Ballysax over reopposing stablemate Soverign and Gery Lyon’s Pythion. Today he doesn’t appear to face anything stronger in the Derristown Stud Derby Trial (3.25) although Buckhurst caught the eye when come with a withering run to beat Jack Years here at the season’s opening fixture. The aforementioned runner up has since won impressively and Buckhurst really ought to improve for not only the experience but also the step up in trip here and he is an interesting contender in the without market.
Guaranteed improved for a step up in trip towards the end of last season but he was lackluster when last of six in the Ballysax whilst Blenheim Palace, a recent handicap winner, might be the pacemaker here.
The Derrinstown Stud 1,000 Guineas Trial (2.50) is a pitiful group three but maybe Hamaryina can use the benefit of her winning run at Tipperary to reverse first time out form with Titanium Sky. They are one of few horses of promise in the race that should still have some improvement to come but it’s desperate stuff for the level.
Perhaps the Aga Khan can also take the Comer Group International Amethyst Stakes (2.15) with Hazapour, who has disappointed a tad since winning the Derrinstown but who probably still has the best form here on balance and who should also improve from his reappearance in the Alleged Stakes behind Magical.
1 pt win Buckhurst w/o Broome, 3.25 Leopardstown (7/2 BetVictor)
1 pt win Hamaryina, 2.50 Leopardstown (9/2 Betfair, Bet Victor)
1 pt win Hazapour, 2.15 Leopardstown (15/8 general)
The Kelly Brothers Handicap Hurdle (3.15) is a very strong race for the time of year and whilst Getaway Katie Mai appears to be the best handicapped horse on raw ablity, she appears to benefit from cut in the ground and it’s a worry that her only defeat outside of Graded company has come on yielding ground.
Fellow JP McManus contender Lone Wolf has plenty of ability although he too lacks a recent run and is stepping back a fair amount in trip and maybe Tudor City could be the answer. He doesn’t have the greatest strike rate but he has tons of quality form and the 7lb claim of Eoin O’Connell is a help too. If Ivanovich Gorbatov shows the same form as he did when taking a Grade B at Fairyhouse two starts ago then he’ll take some beating whilst Mitchouka and Arcentfete caught the eye for Gigginstown.
La Sorelita has a basement weight and should go well following a good fourth at Punchestown along with the claim of Conor McNamara, and she might well be the biggest threat here although Ejayteekay and Lakemilan are just two big players.
The Mares’ Hurdle (2.40) looks a match between Elimay and Pearl Of The West, with the latter maybe the choice over 2 miles on good ground. Elimay was impressive at Punchestown, but had seen out 2m4f very well there and it’s possible if this becomes a dash, that the second favourite is best placed.
Gordon Elliott’s Hammerstein has a fine chance to break his duck in the Killarney Towers Hotel Maiden Hurdle (2.05) but the market knows this and both that race and the rest of the card might be best swerved.
1 pt each/way Tudor City, 3.15 (7/1 general)
2 pts win Pearl Of The West, 2.40 (15/8 general)