Racing starts up again in France today. Racing journalist Patrick Weaver, who is based there, previews the three meetings, including the Guineas trials at Longchamp ...
"Henri Pantall must think she can win a race at this level and enhance her value."
There is plenty to like about the three racecards when racing resumes in France today.
Quality and quantity are the order of the day at Longchamp, Compiegne and Toulouse, with 17 Flat races, and 12 over jumps.
All three meetings are on SkyRacing, with Longchamp the first to get underway.
The French 2,000 Guineas trial at 11:55 should go to Victor Ludorum as the race conditions are very much in his favour. He crucially does not have a penalty for winning the Group One Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at Longchamp on Arc day.
Ecrivain and Helter Skelter finished within a length of him, so the unbeaten Godolphin colt will need to have wintered as well as them to follow up. Andre Fabre is pleased with him, though, so he should extend his winning run to four.
Even more in hand
Fabre and Mickael Barzalona should win the next, too, as Tropbeau has even more in hand of her rivals in the 12:25 than her stablemate, Victor Ludorum.
A winner of two Group races over seven furlongs at Deauville last summer, she was closing well when dropping back in trip for the Cheveley Park Stakes over six at Newmarket in the autumn - her first Group One. The one doubt is that she may not stay a mile, and if that is the case the race is likely to go to Khayzaraan.
Sheikh Hamdan's filly has won both her races over a mile. She was odds-on each time, as she had little to beat, but could not have been more impressive.
A professional would probably back them both, in the knowledge that none of the others are likely to get into the race. The smart money on Friday was for Khayzaraan but I will stick with Tropbeau.
Scotsass is a banker bet for the Prix d'Harcourt at 13:05. His third to Waldgeist and Enable in the Arc was a career best and he is at least as good over 10 furlongs as he is over 12.
Spinning Memories won the Listed Prix Maurice Zilber (13.35) 12 months ago but underperformed on her return to the track at Chantilly in March. On her best form, she is entitled to win but I am intrigued by the fact that five-year-old Dathanna is still in training.
Godolphin would generally retire a Dubawi mare after three seasons, so her trainer Henri Pantall must think she can win a race at this level and enhance her value.
Interestingly, she won both her races over seven furlongs when with Charlie Appleby and has only raced over a mile since.
Wasmya takes a huge drop in class after running down the field in the Group One Prix de la Forêt on Arc Day. As she is best at seven furlongs, she is very much one to consider.
Lou Buck's appeals
The first of the two Listed races on the jumps card at Compiegne is the keenly-contested Prix William Head at 15:35.
Lou Buck's has won seven of his eight races, including both his starts over fences. He won his first race for champion trainer Francois Nicolle here in March by 10 lengths and is my pick.
His stablemate Srelighonn is the one with the highest handicap mark over fences, having won a Grade Two at Auteuil in November 2018. He has been running over hurdles since and ran as recently as March. Even though he was pulled up it should give him a fitness edge over the majority of runners.
Roi Mage and C'est La Bouquet have yet to run this year and would need to be at their best to beat the market leaders.
Little to choose between the Nicolle pair
The Prix Du Cher at 16:35, a Listed race over hurdles, should go to one of the two Nicolle runners, Bipolaire or The Stomp.
There is little to choose between them at the weights, and The Stomp's record at Compiegne is 131222113. He rarely runs over hurdles these days, though, so Bipolaire appeals more.
A Grade One winner over fences, he came second in the Grand Steeplechase de Paris last May, the French equivalent of the Cheltenham Gold Cup. He is far better over the bigger obstacles but he should have the class to win this.
Green Dragoness will be fancied to make a winning start to her career in the Prix Vanille at 17:35. She is a half-sister to the top French hurdler, Blue Dragon, and all her dam's offspring that have raced have won.
Ulicoco was backed into 5-2 when making a winning debut at Machecoul in February. Her trainer, Gabriel Leenders, thinks a lot of her and she runs here rather than at Angers on Thursday.
Attitude can not be faulted
Anyone fancying an each-way bet in the 16-runner handicap chase on the mixed card at Toulouse should look at Polinuit in the 18:20.
Since joining Francois Nicolle from a minor yard at the start of last year, the grey has won or been placed in six of his eight starts. His attitude can not be faulted and there is a feeling in his yard that the best has yet to come from this in-form six-year-old.
French Oaks hopefuls
Four fillies in the Listed Prix Caravelle at 18:50 are still in the French Oaks.
Scripturale was placed in a Group Three and a Listed in her first season.
Neige Blanche was beaten a length in one of the top races of the winter season at Cagnes sur Mer, the Prix Policeman. Anca won her only start at Longchamp last autumn by the narrowest of margins from two other fillies that are being aimed at the Chantilly fillies' Classic. Moon A Lisa won a little race at Dresden in Germany, the form of which amounts to little.
Anca is a worthy favourite and the main reason why Olivier Peslier is at the meeting. She is seriously promising but I will go with Neige Blanche to spring a surprise.