French Racing: Timeform's guide to what to expect when racing resumes on Monday

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Timeform outline what to expect when French racing resumes on Monday
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French racing resumes at Longchamp on Monday 11 May so here's Timeform's guide to the courses, jockeys, trainers and runners to watch....

"Sottsass improved out of all recognition as a three-year-old, winning a listed race at Chantilly before taking a big step forward to follow up in the Prix du Jockey Club back at that course."

When is racing set to resume?

Horse racing in France is set to resume behind closed doors on Monday 11th May after police gave permission for racing to take place at Longchamp in Paris.

What do I need to know about the big courses?

Longchamp is a first-class racecourse, the equal of any in the world. By using different combinations of tracks and winning posts, the right-handed Longchamp course can stage races at an enormous variety of distances between five furlongs and two-and-a-half miles. There is a long, sweeping downhill turn to the very wide home straight with a run-in of around three furlongs.

Chantilly is another Group 1 track. The course is right-handed with interlocking tracks, giving three courses in total, covering distances from seven furlongs to a mile-and-a-half. The course is home to two of the four French Classics; the Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) and Prix de Diane (French Derby). Chantilly has a demanding straight, which is over three furlongs long and has an uphill finish, so you need to stay well to be effective.

Auteuil, France's principal jumping course, is a flat galloping track laid out in a long figure-of-eight. A circuit of the hurdles track has 12 bush hurdles, each three feet seven inches high, with two in the finishing straight and a fairly long run-in. The chase course consists of a wide variety of obstacles

When are the first big races?

There are four pattern races scheduled for the return of horse racing on Monday, with Sottsass, last year's French Derby winner and Arc third, set to make his reappearance in the Prix d'Harcourt at Longchamp. The French 1,000 and 2000 Guineas have been pushed back to 1 June (still set to take place at Longchamp), while the French Derby and French Oaks have been moved to the 5 July (still at Chantilly).

Who are the trainers and jockeys to follow?

Andre Fabre is one of the most successful trainers in France and has been crowned champion trainer on 30 occasions. He famously trained Waldgeist to beat Enable in the 2019 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and is the top trainer at both Longchamp and Chantilly in the last 12 months. Fabre could be represented by two of last season's top two-year-olds, Earthlight and Victor Ludorum, when racing resumes on Monday.

Jean-Claude Rouget finished second in the trainers' championship in 2019, but did record 50 more winners than Fabre, saddling a total of 169 winners from 654 runners. Sottsass his leading light last season. Rouget recorded the second most wins (13) at Longchamp in 2019, behind only Andre Fabre who had 19 winners.

Other trainers to look out for over the coming weeks are Alain de Royer-Dupre and Carlos Laffon-Parias. The smart filly Villa Marina gave Laffon-Parias his biggest win at Longchamp in 2019 when winning the Prix de l'Opera on Arc day.

The leading jockey at Longchamp in 2019 was Maxime Guyon, who recorded a total of 23 wins from 170 rides. He rides for an array of trainers, including Andre Fabre, Carlos Laffon-Parias and Freddy Head, though his biggest victory at the track last season came aboard the Pia Brandt-trained Called To The Bar in the Prix Gladiateur.

Pierre-Charles Boudot and Mickael Barzalona weren't far behind Guyon with 21 and 20 winners, respectively. Barzalona ,in particular, will have a strong book of rides on Monday the choice between Victor Ludorum and Earthlight in the Prix de Fontainebleau if they are both declared.

Which horses should I look out for?

Victor Ludorum - A well-bred son of Shamardal, Victor Ludorum proved himself a smart juvenile last season, winning all three of his starts, notably the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at ParisLongchamp. He deserved extra credit for that success, too, doing well to win in the style that he did considering the slow early pace. Victor Ludorum is prominent in the betting for next month's Poule d'Essai des Poulains, and could make his return to action when racing resumes on Monday; he's an exciting prospect.

Khayzaraan - Freddy Head knows the family of Khayzaraan well, having trained her half-sisters Tantheem and Murafrif. She was too green to do herself justice on debut, but did nothing but improve after, winning a maiden at Deauville by nine lengths before following up in similarly impressive fashion at Chantilly on her final start. Connections have Classic ambitions with her this season - she is currently second favourite for the French 1000 Guineas - and is reportedly set to make her reappearance in the Prix de la Grotte. She is a smart prospect.

Sottsass - He only made two starts as a juvenile in 2018, getting off the mark in a back-end maiden at Clairefontaine at the second attempt. However, he improved out of all recognition as a three-year-old, winning a listed race at Chantilly before taking a big step forward to follow up in the Prix du Jockey Club back at that course.

Sottsass didn't need to repeat that effort to complete a hat-trick in the Prix Niel at Longchamp, but he confirmed himself one of the premier middle-distance three-year-olds in Europe when finishing third to Waldgeist in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe on his final start. It is encouraging he stays in training, and he is another set to return on Monday in the Prix d'Harcourt.

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