We have a real feast on offer on Sunday at Chantilly. Normally an important Longchamp meeting featuring two Groups 1’s, the Prix Ganay and Saint Alary, it has been transferred to Chantilly as Paris is still classified as ‘zone orange’ and therefore out of bounds for racing.
The good news however is that betting turnover is currently only 6% down on last year’s figures for the same time of year. Considering that some of the PMU cafés are still not yet open that is an impressive figure so hopefully the cut in prize money will prove to be relatively temporary.
Small but select fields in the features
The Ganay, never a race to be numerically strong, has been hit this year by a lack of foreign challengers due to France’s reciprocal reaction to England’s illogical and idiotic imposition of a 14 day quarantine rule
Hence only five go to post but it is an intriguing race nonetheless. Despite blotting his copybook for his comeback race this year, Sottsass the 2019 Prix du Jockey Club winner will start favourite.
He is opposed by the three horses who finished in front of him in the Prix Harcourt led by the consistent Shaman and the old stager Way to Paris. However Sottsass threw in a similarly disappointing first start last year so I would expect him to move up considerably on that first run and reverse placings.
The Prix Saint Alary, effectively France’s Musidora stakes but with a Group 1 bracket, has a field of only seven but with five potential stars taking part. Tawkeel is unbeaten in three starts, Savarin a daughter of Deep Impact was a Group 3 winner last year, Magic Attitude scooted up in a listed race last time out, and then there are the two impressive maiden winners Vaucelles and Solsticia both daughters of Le Havre.
Whoever comes out on top will be the likely favourite for the Prix de Diane and it will be fascinating to see if one of these two lightly raced fillies can make a big jump forward to the head of the class.
Vicomtesse Vigier winner will have to work for it
The Prix Vicomtesse Vigier might have a Group 2 figure by its name but to all intents and purposes it looks like a Group 1 this year. The three best stayers in France are turning up in the eleven runner field, the awkwardly named Holdthaisgreen, Called To The Bar and Call The Wind.
Between them they have won over 3.5 million euros and 26 of 68 starts. They are tough nuts who don’t often throw in a bad race so there are no easy pickings on offer here. Although it is a mile and three quarter race a good draw will be handy as running three wide or having to be too far off the pace could be a big disadvantage depending on how the race is run.
The importance of the draw is often underestimated in distance races, being able to get a good slot is vital. I always said that Montjeu would have been beaten in the Arc if he were drawn 14 and not 3. Whatever, it will be a real test to for the up and coming 4 year olds like San Huberto, Get Shirty and Or Gris to see if they can mix it with the big boys.
Fabre could be among the winners later
With ten races on the menu stretching from 12:25pm to 5:40pm it will be a busy afternoon. Supporting the group races will be two listed races, one over five furlongs for two year olds, the Prix La Fleche and one over a mile and a half, the Prix de L’Avre.
Of the nine runners in the former seven won their last race so we will learn something about the two year old hierarchy. Likely favourite will be Giulio Cesare from the in form Marcialis stable but it will be interesting too to see how easy claiming winner Night Hunting (claimed for 42,000 euros) gets on having won by 6 lengths in a scorching time on her only start.
The two interesting runners in the Prix de L’Avre look to be the ex German trained Mare Australis who didn’t get the run of the race, being stuck wide, for his first start in France at St Cloud when he finished fourth behind the impressive Port Guillaume.
Like many of André Fabre’s three year olds he is likely to move up considerably for his second start. Frohism has solid form over shorter distances so it will be interesting to see if he improves over further here, his dam is a sister to a winner of the Prix Gladiateur (a stayers race), so he might.
Supporting the stakes races are two interesting ‘class 1’ conditions races for three year olds over 2100m, one for colts and one for fillies. Although low on numbers of runners these races often throw up future stars so keep an eye on them.
Four horses in the colt’s race (Prix de Champerret) Instruit, Dawn Intello, Ketil and Hurricane Dream all look useful to me and whoever comes out on top would be a likely runner in the Jockey Club in three weeks time. Likewise the fillies race (Prix des Tertres) which looks to be between the two André Fabre fillies Bonne Idée and Alkandora and an impressive winner here would surely turn up for the Prix de Diane.