Both of this afternoon’s French Classis, the Poule d’Essai Poulains (French 2000 Guineas) and the fillies’ equivalent, the Poule d’Essai Pouliches, have attracted big fields and both races are tricky puzzles to solve.
Richard Hannon spearheads a five-strong raiding party from the UK and Ireland, and the pick of the quartet is Olympic Glory who landed the Greenham Stakes on his reappearance at Newbury and is worthy of his place at the head of the betting for this Classic.
The Choisir colt possesses a good turn of foot and he’s already won at Longchamp, having bagged a Group 1 contest at the Arc meeting here in the autumn. The concern I have is that, owing to his hold-up style of racing, he will need plenty of luck in running.
To my mind, the one that may fare best of the overseas contingent is Gale Force Ten. Aidan O’Brien’s charge is invariably ridden prominently and Ryan Moore should be able to get a good sit from stall five. He should reward each-way backers.
However, I’m siding with MORANDI who will probably be a fair bit shorter on the Paris-Mutuel (French Tote). He improved fast as a two-year-old, demolishing his rivals in Criterium de Saint-Cloud on his final run of 2012, and I wouldn’t read too much into his reappearance defeat.
The selection was turned over when odds-on in the Prix de Fontainebleau over C&D last month, but I’m sure he would have won but for wandering off a straight line a furlong from home. In any case, he will be sharper this time and I envisage Cristophe Soumillon sitting handy on the colt before kicking on at the top of the straight. He is too big at 10s with bet365.
Intello was impressive on his return at Newmarket, but he’s drawn out in the car park in stall 17, and a bigger threat could be posed by Style Vendome who landed a key trial for this last month, the Prix Djebel at Maisons-laffitte, and he is a colt on the up.
The British challengers in the French 1000 Guineas look up against it. Hannon sends Zurigha across the Channel and had she would have been worth considering if better drawn, but stall 17 will make things very tricky.
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile heroine Flotilla is a big player, as is Andre Fabre’s first-string Esoterique who was unraced as a two-year-old but is already making up for quick time, winning a maiden on debut at Saint-Cloud last month and followed-up in the Group 3 Prix Vanteaux.
That duo are not passed over lightly, but the vote goes to TOPAZE BLANCHE who was narrowly foiled in the Prix Marcel Boussac at the Arc meeting here in October and ran a cracking trial for this when third behind Kenhope and Tasaday in the Prix de la Grotte over this C&D in April.
Topaz Blanche did well to finish so close, having conceded first run to those two rivals, both of whom re-oppose today, and I’m convinced that she will come on a bundle for that run. At 15/2 with Bet Victor she is too good to miss.