2.08 Longchamp – Poule d´Essai des Poulains (Group 1)
Aidan O’Brien’s HIGHLAND REEL was popular in the market for the English 2000 Guineas following his victory in the Group 2 Vintage Stakes at Glorious Goodwood. He stretched clear of his rivals in taking fashion that day and having already won over a mile prior to that run, he looks to have plenty going in his favour. The draw can play an important role in this race but in seven, Ryan Moore will have plenty of options for his colt. He looks the standout performer on form to date and should he get the luck in running he could be tough to beat.
Also drawn well is Andre Fabre’s Make Believe who having won his first two starts, made his reappearance in the Prix Djebel at Maisons-Laffitte. He travelled well in that race but got a little tired close home and was headed close home by Freddy Head’s Ride Like The Wind. Andre Fabre’s colt should be spot on for this assignment and he looks likely to give the favourite most to think about.
Francis Graffard saddles one of two runners for Al Shaqab Racing in Karar who chased home 2000 Guineas runner-up Territories in his trial last month. Having been purchased for 200,000 Euros as a breeze-up horse last May, he won by six lengths on his racecourse debut in March. It is interesting that Frankie Dettori prefers him to Richard Hannon’s Smaih and although his draw could be better in 13, he looks an interesting contender.
The final one to mention is Kevin Ryan’s Flaming Spear who is highly regarded by connections but ran no sort of race on his return to action in the Greenham. The ground was very fast that day and these softer conditions should be more suitable. His sire Lope De Vega won this race in 2010 and although this colt was disappointing last time, he shouldn’t be dismissed too quickly. The stable sent The Grey Gatsby over to win the Prix Du Jockey Club last year and if the step up in trip suits, he can outrun his odds of 25/1.
3.10 Leopardstown – Derrinstown Stud 1,000 Guineas Trial (Group 3)
The stable of Dermot Weld has made a flying start to the season and the progression of Stormfly has epitomised that form. The filly got up close home in a first time visor at the Curragh at the end of March before following up at Leopardstown a couple of weeks later. She beat another of today’s rivals Devonshire by three and three-quarter lengths last time and it is difficult to see her closing that gap. Dermot Weld’s filly looks likely to be a short-priced favourite here and whilst she has strong claims, there are a couple of fillies who deserve a second look.
Jim Bolger’s Stellar Glow may yet to have got off the mark in four runs but she was highly-tried as a two-year-old and was placed in Group 3 company as a juvenile. She raced a little keenly on her reappearance at the Curragh last week and although she handles soft ground, the conditions last week would not have suited her. The step up to a mile should also be in her favour and if she is none the worse for last week’s exertions then she can go very close.
However, it may be best to look for a bit of each-way value here and there looks a strong case to be made for David Wachman’s OFF LIMITS. Having finished fourth on debut, she improved for the step up to a mile to beat Dermot Weld’s Zannda, who was second in the Pretty Polly Stakes last weekend. She ran a good race on her return to action when she finished third behind subsequent winners in Success Days and Postulation. She should be better for that run and looks overpriced at around 14/1 considering her form to date.
3.15 Longchamp – Poule D´Essai Des Pouliches (Group 1)
In terms of form to date, Jean-Claude Rouget’s Ervedya is a stand out candidate having chased home both The Wow Signal and Found in Group 1 company as a juvenile. She was a smooth winner of the Group 3 Prix Imprudence on her return to action and she understandably sits at the head of the market for Sunday’s contest. However, she has been drawn 12 of 14 which is far from ideal and as you often need a lot of luck to go close here, I feel 6/4 is short enough.
Both of Andre Fabre’s runners look to have nice profiles coming into the race, the first of which Mexican Gold is currently two from two. Having won on debut in October, she was a good winner of the Group 3 Prix De La Grotte on her seasonal reappearance as she came with a well-timed run under Vincent Cheminaud. She was ridden patiently last time which would suggest she will need some luck in running but she is lightly-raced and could be anything.
Her stablemate Soft Drink finished tenth in the Prix Marcel Boussac behind Found but got off the mark when beating a well-regarded newcomer of the Alain De Royer-Dupre stable last time. This is quite a big step up for her but Maxime Guyon seems to prefer this filly to the other Wertheimer runner in the field.
However, it could be that our 1000 Guineas has a bearing on this race in the shape of Martyn Meade’s IRISH ROOKIE. The filly was travelling well for a long way at Newmarket but possibly found the ground to be too quick for her in the closing stages. However, she seems to have come out of the race well and connections have decided to go again with this lightly-raced individual. She has been given a good draw in 2 and as long as last week’s race hasn’t taken too much out of her, she can outrun her odds of 20/1.
3.40 Leopardstown – Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial Stakes (Group 3)
Aidan O’Brien has farmed this race to a large degree in recent years having won six of the last ten renewals and ten overall. With the ground having gone soft, John F Kennedy does not line up here but the Ballydoyle stable are represented by Order Of St George. He finished last season off when chasing home Parish Boy in Listed company over nine furlongs and he should appreciate the step up to ten furlongs. We have already seen this week the strength in depth in the stable and whilst this colt may not be a serious Derby contender, he should still give a good showing.
However, it may be best to side with SUCCESS DAYS who was a surprise winner of the Ballysax Stakes earlier in the season as he made all to upset the leading fancies including John F Kennedy and Zafilani. His last two victories have come with cut in the ground and with conditions likely to suit him once again here, he could be underestimated. He was eased down in the end when winning by four and a half lengths last time and there could be more to come from Ken Condon’s colt.