I’m not quite sure why it has turned out to be so but the Maurice De Gheest due to be run at Deauville on Sunday looks to be one of the highest calibre and most intriguing contests run in Europe this year.
Is it the only Group 1 to be run in Europe over 1300m? I think so and clearly it’s a distance that ‘fits’ both the extended sprinters and the milers dropping back in trip.
Likely and indeed worthy favourite will be Earthlight. Unbeaten and dual group 1 winner at two he’s a tank of a horse who has been beautifully trained. Just the one run this year in a Listed race over 7F in Deauville following a training set back earlier in the year, he won with class and comes here as a fresh horse.
There’s probably not a whole lot between the O’Brien pair of Wichita and Lope Y Fernandez, that’s what the rating’s say anyway, 53.5 to 52 respectively.
Interestingly Ryan Moore has chosen the Lope De Vega colt, maybe because Wichita had a hard race in the Sussex Stakes recently and Lope Y Fernandez comes here off a good second to Pinatubo in the Prix Jean Prat run itself in Deauville on 12th July.
It hasn’t always been easy for Ryan Moore over the years to make the right choice so he will be hoping he has here but Wichita was only a neck away from winning the 2000 Guineas so it can’t have been an easy call.
The winners of the two Group One sprints at Royal Ascot both turn up. Golden Horde winner of the Commonwealth Cup represents the three year olds and Hello Youmzain (confusing name) winner of the Diamond Jubilee Stakes represents the older brigade. Both have slightly blotted their books since but these are two high class horses who, if they bring their A game to town will keep the rest honest.
Charlie Appleby is having a solid year and although he might not be a group One winner his runner Space Blues comes along after an eye catching win in the seven furlong Lennox Stakes at Goodwood.
With the threat of England introducing quarantine restrictions on those coming in from France it looks like Deauville has got lucky for this weekend, it would have been a giant logistical pain for all and no doubt put some off from coming at all if two weeks quarantine was necessary on ‘returning home’.
But, as the saying goes, the visitors won’t have it all their own way with five other French trained horses going to the start to back up Earthlight.
The best of these would be Wooded, a three year old son of Wootton Bassett who was an impressive winner of a Group 3 over six furlongs earlier in the year. Arguably he was a shade disappointing to be only fourth behind Pinatubo in the Jean Prat but maybe he needed it having been off the course for a while. A bit of a dark horse still but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him in the shake up, not least as his trainer Francis Graffard is having a great season.
Best of the rest would look to be Spinning Memories a hard knocking and very consistent mare trained by Pascal bary who has won her last two races, a listed and Group 3 both over seven furlongs.
This is going to be a cracking race and well worth tuning in to, not only for those continuing self isolation following the wave of this crazy virus that has blighted all our lives, but for all racing enthusiasts who enjoy watching class horses do battle.