Time to close out a busy weekend of racing in Europe with another feature card from Deauville, featuring five high quality stakes races, headlined by a fantastic field for the GI Prix du Haras de Fresnay Le Buffard Jacques Le Marois. It’s a race steeped in history with an ample amount of champion racehorses who have taken out this event. Palace Pier is the favorite for the 2021 rendition after defeating Alpine Star just one year ago in this very race.
Palace Pier looks to emulate the likes of Spinning World and the great mare Miesque as the only horses to win back to back renewals of the Prix Jacques Le Marois, a Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In for the Breeders’ Cup Mile. Other winners include the likes of Kingman, Dubawi, Manduro and Dubai Millennium to name a few. Despite his dominance this season, he faces one of the toughest fields he has seen in recent memory. One of the most anticipated races on the European calendar this season and it’s only the beginning of great racing to come with York’s Ebor Festival starting on Wednesday. Sit back and enjoy!
Sunday – Deauville
Race 1 – GIII Prix Francois Boutin – 7 Furlongs, 2 Year Olds
4 – Never Dies – Very intrigued by this runner who has put together two strong efforts in maiden company, the latter of which at Compiegne to break the maiden. He showed lots of maturity being between rivals for most of the race and looked very relaxed. When finding the gap it didn’t take much urging to get this horse going and drawing away by 4 lengths. By strong sprinting sire No Nay Never, this trip should work out perfectly and if the horse continues to mature as he did last time, expect even more improvement with the move up in grade.
2 – Best Sixteen – A winner last time out in listed company during the Vichy Festival in France. Best Sixteen sustained a nice rally down the center of the course and won going away on the line. His prep has been very intriguing with a big step up to Group 2 company off of wins in claiming and maiden company. Being no match for Atomic Force that day, this seems more like the progression this horse needed to move up into group stakes company. Should be a live chance and will be happy to have another try at this distance.
9 – Elysted – This filly by Pedro The Great has won by narrow margins in both career starts, both in allowance company. Will make a difference pending the ground but will get the help of jockey Ioritz Mendizabal taking the reins for the first time. A winner of multiple Group 1’s this season, Mendizabal has had a strong season in big races and should be able to get the best out of this horse stepping up in class.
Race 2 – GIII Prix Gontaut-Biron – 1 1/4 Miles, 4 & Up
1 – Wally – A narrow margin winner in the GIII Prix Edmond Blanc a few starts back, Wally made the trip over to Italy and captured Group 2 triumph in the historic GII Gran Premio di Milano. That effort was extended up to the mile and a quarter, a distance that he is 2 for 3 lifetime and both wins came in stakes company. Was beaten by several recent stakes winners two back in the GI Prix d’Ispahan, including Skalleti and Tilsit. This looks to be an ideal spot for Wally and I am expecting a big effort from him now back at Deauville, where he broke his maiden.
4 – Kenway – One of my personal favorite horses in France because of how tough and gritty he is. His last two starts came back at the mile in Group 3 company he ran respectably behind two runners headed to the Prix Jacques Le Marois later on the card. Will handle the ground well and will definitely appreciate getting back to this distance. Has put together some nice performances in stakes company at Deauville in the past and contested two Group 1s in the process.
5 – Diamond Vendome – Will be one of the few horses in this field that will benefit from having less give in the ground. Has put together back to back strong efforts over this distance including setting the pace in the GIII Grand Prix de Vichy last time out. Will have speed and if he can get a similar trip to last time he could be tough to beat at a big price.
Race 4 – GI Prix du Haras De Fresnay Le Buffard Jacques Le Marois – 1 Mile, 4 & Up
5 – Alpine Star – Fought throughout the stretch on her debut run this prep at York and was narrowly defeated. That run came over the mile and a quarter and now shortens up for this jump back up in class. She captured the GI Coronation Cup winner last season, as well as placing 2nd in two Group 1 races including this race 12 months ago to Palace Pier. I had a slight worry about being 2nd up this prep but she showed she can handle the distance and getting back to a venue she likes, we could see the Alpine Star we have been waiting for as a 4 year old.
1 – Palace Pier – The number one horse in the world via the TRC Global Rankings, Palace Pier looks to continue his dominance going a mile. He has only one loss in recent times and it was to end the season over rain affected ground at Ascot on British Champions Day. Should be very tough to beat but this is a talented field around him. He’s faced some good horses but this will be the biggest test he has faced this season.
2 – Victor Ludorum – A winner last time out when getting back to the mile distance at Chantilly, Victor Ludorum has shown the ability to close well and could be one to get a piece of this race late. He is no stranger to the big stage and is a winner of the Poule d’Essai des Poulains, known as the French 2000 Guineas as a three year old. Not saying he will necessarily win the race but could definitely be in with a shot when they get close to home.
Race 5 – Prix Nureyev – 1 1/4 Miles, 3 Year Olds
11 – In Crowd – 3 for 4 lifetime for this son of Dubawi, all in allowance company but the efforts have been impressive. The only loss of his career came at the hands of a very handy galloper from Germany in Alter Alder, who placed 2nd in the GI Deutsches Derby and ran a cracking 2nd at Deauville last week in the GIII Prix de Reux. This horse has ability and this will be the first real step up in class. Appreciated the drop from the 1 1/2 mile trip and will be more than comfortable back at the mile and a quarter.
3 – Gregolimo – Has put together two very strong efforts in higher class than this, including being just beaten a neck in the GII Prix d’Harcourt. When racing on the turf it’s been on soft ground, however, he looks like a horse who will handle either surface. Raced well early in his career over the All-Weather at Pau going this distance. Think he’s ready for group stakes company and this may be the right stepping stone for that.
12 – Friendly Face – Took the lead close to home in listed company last time out and looked a winner. Unfortunately, Vauban re-rallied on the outside and got up just in time. Despite that loss, it was a strong effort for his first attempt at stakes company and will take another shot while dropping back in distance. One big question will be how this horse handles the ground on the day. Love seeing this horse get back to the mile and a quarter and should be good value at a big price today.
Race 6 – GIII Prix Minerve – 1 1/2 Miles, 3 YO Fillies
5 – Burgarita – Breeding suggests that the bump up to the mile and a half will be more than ideal for Burgarita after a game effort in the GI Prix de Diane(French Oaks). Has raced mainly on ground with a bit of give in it so that could be a question but nothing to say that she won’t appreciate good to firm going. Sire Sea The Stars won the GI Irish Champion Stakes on Good to Soft ground and the GI Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on firm ground. Mickael Barzalona jumps back aboard after riding Philomene instead in the Prix de Diane for Godolphin.
6 – Sayyida – Ground will suit going into Sunday and ran very well in her first start in stakes company. Ran a massive race first up this prep with a significant jump in distance at Newmarket. Makes her first trip over to France and is great value currently trading overseas at 11/1. This is a talented field of fillies she faces today however not talented enough where she should be at that price.
1 – Thunder Drum – A winner last time out in the GIII Prix De Royaumont at Chantilly, that was the first attempt going this distance. Eddie Hardouin picked up the mount that day for red hot trainer Jerome Reynier. Was not high on the horse in past starts at the mile and a quarter but with the bump up in distance it makes this horse a contender. Has moved down a bit in the market recently, just curious as to how the ground will affect her in this spot.