French Racing Tips: Rome set on revenge in Criterium International

Scenic Saint-Cloud stages two Group 1s this Saturday
Godolphin and Coolmore will be hoping their aces aren't trumped at Saint-Cloud

A weekend with three Group 1s in Paris. Patrick Weaver previews the Saturday card at Saint-Cloud, where there is a strong English presence...

"Ancient Rome came from a long way back to finish a close third and could well turn the tables over the extra furlong. Were this at Longchamp over seven, Angel Bleu would be the pick but not at Saint-Cloud over a mile."

The Criterium International at 12:58 has a chequered history with regard to future performances of its recent winners.

The last three failed to win another Group race, but 2016 hero Thunder Snow won the Dubai World Cup and the 2015 victor Johannes Vermeer was runner-up in the Melbourne Cup as a four-year-old.

It has been won more often than not by an English or Irish raider in the last decade and there is a good chance it will be again on Saturday.

Aidan O'Brien runs the fast-improving Glounthane and Newmarket fourth Aikhal. Frankie Dettori rides Angel Bleu for Ralph Beckett and William Buick is on George Boughey's Oscula.

Angel Bleu is the sole Group 1 winner in the line-up, having won the
Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere on Arc day, and as such would normally be my pick. However, the favourite Ancient Rome came from a long way back to finish a close third and could well turn the tables over the extra furlong today. Were this at Longchamp over seven, Angel Bleu would be the pick but not at Saint-Cloud over a mile.

Nick Bradley Racing and trainer George Boughey picked up Oscula for 4,000gns at the Sales a year ago. The filly has since won over £120,000, hitting the first four in six Group races since early-season wins at Brighton and Epsom.

She too was in action on Arc day, coming third to Zellie and Times Square in the Group 1 Qatar Prix Marcel Boussac. That run makes her the better of the two fillies in the line-up and she gets 4lb from the boys but the fairer sex haven't won the race in the last decade.

I go with Coolmore's Ancient Rome to beat Angel Bleu and keep the prize at home.

Goldspur can remain unbeaten

Six of the nine in the Criterium de Saint-Cloud at 13:33 are from the UK and Ireland.

The second of the Group 1s is over 10 furlongs, so stamina is as important as a turn of foot.

The three Group 3 winners in the line-up are El Bodegon(Chantilly, 1m1f), Dreamflight (Saint-Cloud, 1m), and Godolphin's Goldspur, who touched off Inconquerable in a stirring finish to the Zetland Stakes at Newmarket (1m2f).

The others all need to improve to win, the best of them arguably being Martel, a son of Frankel that has won a maiden at Compiegne and a conditions race here over a mile.

It's a cracking renewal of a race previously won by the Arc winner Waldgeist. My money is on Goldspur to remain unbeaten, but as at Newmarket he will have to pull out all the stops to hold off Frankie on Inconquerable.

Century up for consolation prize

Simon and Ed Crisford have found a suitable end-of-season opportunity for Century Dream.

The Prix Perth at 14:50 doesn't look that strong and the seven-year-old was placed in stronger races at Epsom and Ascot before and after his Listed win at Windsor in June. William Buick has the ride.

Brentford Hope was three lengths back in fourth in that Windsor race, so needs to up his game.

Es La Vida gained a recent Listed success over course and distance. As that was a personal best, she comes into the reckoning.

Godolphin's Magny Cours' second to Dubai Honour in the Prix Dollar looks better still after that one ran second in the Qipco Champion Stakes last weekend. He is not that reliable though, as he failed to catch 20-1 shot Reshabar when favourite for the Prix de Montretout at Longchamp in May. You feel everything has to go right for him to win, but he is place-only material, for sure.

The official ratings make Jin Jin and Mythico the equal of Century Dream, Magny Cours, Reshabar and Es La Vida but their form has petered out compared to the four on my shortlist.

Coolmore filly can see off British Challenge

Joie De Soir appeals in the Prix Belle De Nuit at 15:25.

She is one of two fillies that has finished ahead of Control Tower in recent weeks and she did so with more authority than Hugo Palmer's Quenelle D'Or did in the Prix des Tourelles here at Saint-Cloud.

I wouldn't put you off backing Quenelle D'Or each-way, as she has gone from a mark of 86 in midsummer to 100 following her recent win but Coolmore's Joie De Soir is also on an upward curve and has the greater scope for further improvement.

Sweet Lady should relish drop in grade

The last of the Group races on the card is the Prix De Flore at 16:00.

Again the choice is between backing the filly dropping in class, Sweet Lady, or going with one of those moving up from Listed company.

Sweet Lady has run well in the French 1,000 Guineas and Oaks and will do for me. Her second to Roger Varian's Waliyak in the Prix Bertrand de Tarragon at Chantilly was another good effort in defeat and she is fresher than most.

The first three in the Prix Dahlia here at the start of the month go again. Varian's Angel Power was favourite for that but she was beaten three quarters of a length by Jupyra with Nationalista a length back in third. That's the best Listed form on offer, but I'm not sure any of the three are as good as Sweet Lady, who returns to the scene of her last win in March.

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