Top sprinters Earthlight and Golden Horde take each other on again at Deauville. Patrick Weaver previews the main races at the Normandy track...
"Golden Horde won a soft renewal of the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot. He was then found wanting when a beaten favourite for the July Cup. As tough as he is Golden Horde doesn't look the answer."
The feature Prix Maurice de Gheest at 14:50 is a rarity indeed - a Group 1 over six and a half furlongs. Is it better to back a horse proven over seven, or is it OK to back a top sprinter and hope he stays the extra 110 yards?
Earthlight should keep unbeaten record intact
The first and second-favourites for the latest renewal come into the latter category. Earthlight, 7/4, and Golden Horde, 4/1, are among the best of their age over six. Neither has raced over seven.
Unsurprisingly Earthlight is favourite as Golden Horde has yet to beat him. They met in two Group 1s last year - in the Darley Prix Morny 12 months ago at Deauville where Golden Horde was three lengths back in third, and six weeks later in the Middle Park at Newmarket where Mickael Barzalona timed his run to perfection and caught Golden Horde in the closing stages.
In the Godolphin colt's absence, Golden Horde won a soft renewal of the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot. He was then found wanting when a beaten favourite for the July Cup. That was the first time he had taken on older horses and two four-year-olds got the better of him. As tough as he is Golden Horde doesn't look the answer.
Lope Y Fernandez is best of the three-year-olds to have run over seven. On three occasions he has been placed behind the champ at the trip, Pinatubo. Most recently in the Prix Jean Prat here, when Wooded was three lengths back in fourth.
He came up against Golden Horde on his sole run over six furlongs this year, in the Commonwealth Cup. Given he was rated 107 and Clive Cox's stable star was 114, it was odd that he went off as 10/3 favourite. He never got into the race and was nearer last than first.
While Lope Y Fernandez can be given 10 out of 10 for effort, he has yet to win a Group One. It is hard to make a case for that changing this weekend.
Godolphin's second string, Space Blues, was third to Advertise and Brando in this last August, since when he has won three much weaker races. You could see him coming third again, but winning . . . no.
Hello Youmzain has won two Group 1s but six furlongs has looked his limit. He weakened in the closing stages of the July Cup in which Golden Horde was the more resilient finishing a couple of lengths ahead of him. Expect the same again over the extra 110 yards.
Earthlight it is then, with Golden Horde and Space Blues for the places.
Commando a force to be reckoned with over best trip
Seven of the 10 runners in the Prix Moonlight Cloud at 15:25 are English-trained.
Charlie Appleby's Lazuli has the highest rating (109) in this Listed sprint for three-year-olds but he is markedly better over five furlongs than six. He also has a penalty for his Listed win over the minimum trip at Sandown in June.
I would sooner back Royal Commando each-way as I think his fourth at 250/1 in the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot was no fluke. He was unimpressive at York over seven last time but I sense six furlongs is his comfort zone. Kieran Shoemark, who gets on with Royal Commando so well, is at Salisbury so Olivier Peslier takes over in the saddle.
I would not discount the 16/1 shot Celtic Beauty, despite her poor strike rate, but Kevin Ryan's other runner, Galadriel is better at five than six and makes no appeal.
James Tate's Dream Shot is hard to win with but is placed more often than not over sprint trips. Archie Watson's pair Maystar and Silver Machine need to improve.
The home team's My Love's Passion and Digression finished within a length of the winner, Althiqa, in a fillies-only Listed over seven at Deauville last month. They take on colts over six here, so it would be a mistake to read too much into that form.
Thundering Blue must recover his old form if he's to win
David Menuisier is persevering with the seven-year-old Thundering Blue. His stable star is without a win since 2018 and finished last in three of five races in 2019, causing his official rating to plummet from 118 to 108. Even with Ryan Moore on him, he doesn't look a likely winner of the Group 3 Prix de Reux at 16:35.
The winner is more likely to come from a race at Vichy in May. Styledargent was the surprise 13/1 winner of that - by a neck from Sublimis, 4/1, with the 6/5 favourite Strong Light a length back in fourth. Sublimis was favourite to get the better of Styleargent at Lyon Parilly next time but was beaten a length. Both races were over 12 furlongs. Styleargent has since finished on the heels of Spirit Of Nile and Top Max in the Group 3 Grand Prix de Vichy over 10 furlongs.
It is a pity that Maxime Guyon has been claimed for Folamour but I still fancy Styledargent back over today's trip. Folamour is always a threat at this level and will appreciate the drop in grade after his respectable fourth in the Group 1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud.
There are no English-trained runners in the other races, and that includes the Listed Prix Michel Houyvet at 13:35. The highest-rated of those with handicap marks is the unpenalised Listed winner Step By Step, who outclassed Mensen Ernst among others at Toulouse. He looks a value bet at 5/1.
The unbeaten Sea The Stars colt, Zeyrek, is an Arc entry whose wins at 11/10 and 9/10 have come at Dieppe and Compiegne. He is 10/11 overnight, a price that is hardly tempting given Step By Step has a stronger CV.