Deauville's summer season kicks off with the Group One Prix Jean Prat. Patrick Weaver previews the feature races at the Normandy track...
"It is interesting that Mickael Barzalona has chosen Midtown over Erasmo which he has ridden in all seven of his races."
Three consecutive days with Group Ones - the Falmouth Stakes on Friday, the July Stakes and the Prix Jean Prat. Great to have so many class horses in action over different trips.
The Prix Jean Prat at 14:50 is significant in that it is one of only two top-level seven-furlong races in England and France for three-year-olds and up - the other being the Prix de la Foret at Longchamp in October. There are five Group 2 events in the UK for older horses over the trip, but no Group 1s.
There is a fair chance the prize will be won by a raider as there are four Irish runners and two from England.
Let Battle commence
Aidan O'Brien runs Battleground and Wembley, neither of which got a clear run in the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot. Ryan Moore was proved right to choose Battleground, who was third to Poetic Flare and Lucky Vega that day - five lengths ahead of Thunder Moon and seven clear of Wembley.
The trio had previously underperformed in the 2,000 Guineas finishing in the last four home and all were subsequently checked over by the vet and found to be OK.
Wembley, Thunder Moon and Battleground were among the best seven-furlong two-year-olds in Europe in 2020, so should make any shortlist for the Jean Prat.
Wembley and Thunder Moon were placed behind St Mark's Basilica in the Dewhurst in October. The previous month Thunder Moon and Wembley were first and second in the National Stakes at the Curragh with St Mark's Basilica third and Law Of Indices back in seventh.
Battleground won both his starts over seven - at Royal Ascot and Glorious Goodwood but neither was a Group 1 race.
The two UK runners need career bests to be placed. Neither Naval Crown nor Mehmento has won a Group race, and I am surprised to see the former is favourite.
The best Group 1 form of the home team is Colosseo's second to St Mark's Basilica in the French 2,000. It was a marked step up from his previous runs and he led with a furlong to go. He was 80/1 outsider of 12 that day, so it was quite a shock that he beat all bar the O'Brien colt.
There isn't much to get excited about otherwise from the French point of view, but it is interesting that Mickael Barzalona has chosen Midtown over Erasmo which he has ridden in all seven of his races - the latest was a narrow Group 3 success from Best Lightning at Chantilly.
I'm thinking Midtown is unbeaten in weaker company and unexposed, so would appeal more than Erasmo whose limitations have been exposed and can't be fancied against the strong Irish contingent.
With no great conviction, I will go for Battleground but Colin Keane will need everything to fall right to beat Wembley and Thunder Moon.
Choux the likelier winner of Evans pair
David Evans is to be congratulated for finding a weak Listed race for Choux, which landed a gamble from 40/1 to 100/30 first time out at Thirsk.
The Prix Yacowlef at 12:58 won't take much winning but the seven runners include Royal Ashirah, a filly that has won both her races in Rome, one of them a Listed. I can see Choux running well with Maxime Guyon booked, but she might not get home in front.
She certainly has a more realistic chance than her stablemate Fabiosa in the next, the Prix Roland de Chambure at 13:33. Evans' Nottingham winner has not done well of late - she has been unplaced in Listed sprints - and is up against five that have won eight of their 10 races.
Preference would be for Zellie whose two wins at Saint-Cloud include one over seven furlongs, so we know she stays. Nirlit's Saint-Cloud successes have both been over six, so the distance box isn't ticked.
Kennella can see off Carlisle flops
The Prix Amandine at 15:25 has lured two English runners - Cloudy Dawn and Elvic who both ran in a Listed race at Carlisle last month. Elvic, a 66/1 shot, went off in front and faded, finishing fifth. Cloudy Dawn, who went off favourite, came from off the pace to finish third.
The race looks France's to lose though as Kennella and See The Rose have stronger credentials. Kennella has bumped into See The Rose in all her races this year.
Over course and distance in the Prix Imprudence back April, she was a head behind See The Rose. Since then, Kennella was a head in front in the French 1,000 when the pair were third and fifth. Last time out in the Group 2 Prix de Sandringham, Kennella was runner-up to Tahlie with See The Rose two and a half lengths back in third.
Jessica Harrington runs Loch Lein, whose four unplaced efforts in Group 3s and Listeds this year do not inspire confidence.
You would expect the French to take the contest, most probably with Kennella.
Brad can make it two from two in France
The six-furlong Group 3 Prix de Ris-Orangis at 16:35 has attracted a number of runners that are stepping up or down in distance.
Pradaro won the Group 2 Prix du Gros-Chene over five on soft at Chantilly. Sestilio Jet, sixth, Coeur De Pierre, seventh, and Ideal Beauty, eighth, all take him on again.
Stormbringer's three wins this year have come over shorter at Chantilly and Moulins. He was unplaced twice at this level over seven last year but has improved since going over five and is one to consider.
Pretreville has finished first or second in 10 of his 14 races, but they have all been over seven or eight furlongs. Ocean's recent wins have also come over those distances rather than in sprints.
Colinsbay failed to win for the Queen when trained by Richard Hannon last season, but won a weak Group 3 over six in Rome in May.
Despite having an inconsistent profile, Tom Dascombe's Brad The Brief could be the answer. His two defeats in the spring were over seven furlongs and before that, he was out of his depth in a £1million sprint in Saudi Arabia.
His last five wins have all been over six furlongs - the last of them at Chantilly from Coeur De Pierre on his only previous visit to France. The return to his best trip could bring out the best in him.