It's heavy going at Deauville, but hopefully not for Sportsbook users. Patrick Weaver previews the valuable races on Sunday's card...
"It is possible that the heavy going will find Palace Pier out but I was really impressed with the way he soared past Pinatubo and Wichita in the St James's Palace."
The Prix Jacques le Marois at 14:50 is a bit special this year.
If and when the winners of the Queen Anne Stakes and the St James's Palace Stakes meet, it is usually at Glorious Goodwood at the end of July. Back in 2011, for example, Canford Cliffs went head-to-head with Frankel in the Sussex Stakes and came off second best to the three-year-old.
Three Royal Ascot winners mix it in the feature race
This year, though, the Royal Ascot winners meet at Deauville - Circus Maximus having come second to Mohaather in the Sussex Stakes, a race which the St James' Palace winner Palace Pier missed.
And there is a third Royal Ascot star in the line-up, Alpine Star, in the same colours as Circus Maximus. She was making her seasonal debut in the Coronation Stakes when she beat Sharing and Quadrilateral, two of the best fillies over a mile in North America and Europe - both Group One winners as two-year-olds.
Add last year's French 2,000 Guineas hero, Persian King, - fresh from a Group One win over Stormy Antarctic and Pogo at Chantilly - and you have a race which could go one of four ways. Especially as Persian King is the only one to have won a Group One on heavy going.
Last year's winner Romanised is in the line-up. He was the equal of Circus Maximus last season, the pair being separated by a nose in the Group One Prix du Moulin over a mile on good to soft. A comfortable winner of the Paddy Power Minstrel Stakes on his return last month, he is an each-way option at 10/1, though not my pick for the forecast.
Outsiders unlikely to trouble the market leaders
Could we have a shock result, like yesterday's Group One Preis von Europa. The Cologne feature went to Donjah, whose @betfairexchange SP was 60.
I wouldn't have thought so. Pretreville was beaten fair and square by Persian King at Saint-Cloud in June. He would be out of his depth in any Group One, let alone one as strong as this. The 100/1 shot Restiany can only be running because his owner-breeder, Guy Pariente, has nothing better to do with his money. A winner of a Listed at Saint-Cloud on his last start, he needs to beat two home if he is to cover the cost of running. Unlikely, I'd have thought.
It is possible that the heavy going will find Palace Pier out - that it will totally blunt his speed - but I was really impressed with the way he soared past Pinatubo and Wichita in the St James's Palace. I'm crossing my fingers that John Gosden's colt will handle the ground and that Frankie Dettori will keep him close to Persian King and not ask him to go from last to first, something that would be a big ask given in the muddy conditions.
Valia can see off Brtitish and Irish challengers in the Prix Minerve
There is also a strong British presence in the Group 3 Prix Minerve for three-year-old fillies at 16:00. David Simcock runs Oriental Mystique, David Menuisier saddles Wonderful Tonight and William Haggas sends over Born With Pride. Their respective international handicap ratings are 104, 102 and 100.
Certainly, there was a lot to like about Oriental Mystique's close second to Vaucelles in a Group 2 at Longchamp last time as the winner was fourth in a Group 1 prior to that. Mozzarella was the best part of three lengths back in third, so Oriental Mystique should beat her again.
However, I could see Valia beating all three of our raiders as she got the better of a protracted tussle with Wonderful Tonight in a Listed at Longchamp last time, going over two lengths clear in the final furlong. A beautifully bred daughter of Sea The Stars, she is 33/1 for the Arc and looks the best of the French runners.
Paix is a fast-improving winner of a maiden at Clairefontaine and a Listed at Vichy. More than can be said of Hidaka who won a maiden for unraced fillies here at Deauville last August but was lifeless when a beaten favourite on her only run since at Chantilly last month.
That leaves Dettori's mount for Aidan O'Brien, Laburnum. The least fancied of four from the stable in the Irish Oaks, she ran an honest race and came fourth of eight. She has since stayed on well to win over nine and a half furlongs at Gowran. I guess she is the one to beat but I reckon Valia will outstay her.
Outsiders unlikely to trouble the market leaders
Elsewhere on the card, Dawn Intello looks a good thing in the Prix Nureyev at 15:25. He was fourth behind Mishriff, The Summit and Victor Ludorum in the French Derby and his owner opted for this Listed race rather than take those three on again in yesterday's Group 2 Prix Guillaume d'Ornano.
He has 7lb in hand of those with handicap ratings, so the main dangers could come from inexperienced recent winners Vardani and Qous.
The latter, who does not have any fancy autumn targets, won by two short heads in a three-way photo to a minor race at Chantilly. Vardani, on the other hand, is entered for the Grand Prix de Paris despite having only won in the sticks at Chateaubriant and Argentan. He will need to finish in the first two here to justify running in that Group 1 next month.
If you fancy a bet in the Prix Francois Boutin at 13:35 recent Clairefontaine winner La Gioiosa is 6/1. Only three of the five runners are proven at seven furlongs - the others being the 13/8 favourite Tiger Tanaka and the outsider Sledge Hammer. With the Sportsbook offering a quarter the odds a place the first two, La Gioiosa is not a bad bet.
Brian Meehan's Jimmy Sparks is the same price but he has only raced over six so far and may struggle in the mud over the extra 220 yards.