Five Group races at Longchamp this Sunday with the Derby winner, Serpentine, in the Grand Prix de Paris. Patrick Weaver previews the Longchamp action...
"Dettori won the race in the same colours 12 months ago and must fancy his chances of finishing in the first three as Dame Malliot has done so in all her races short of one mile five."
It's Arc trial Sunday this weekend and the odds for the big one next month could look quite different in 24 hours' time.
The Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris at 14:55 is the headline contest. The Group 1 event hasn't thrown up many Arc winners down the years, but that's because it is usually scheduled for July when many Arc hopes are being rested for an autumn campaign.
It could be a different story this weekend with the Derby winner Serpentine strutting his stuff for the first time since he put a decent field to the sword at Epsom.
Back Serpentine to confirm Derby placings
Some folk remain unconvinced because he made all the running that day but the time was fast and Aidan O'Brien has given him two months to get over what must have been a lung-burster to one so inexperienced.
Eight of those behind were staying on at the finish, so it can be argued that their riders did not push them to their limits. Three of them are taking Serpentine on again: English King, Mogul and Highland Chief who finished fifth, sixth and tenth respectively.
Ridden differently by Ryan Moore at Glorious Goodwood, Mogul has since won the Gordon Stakes by three-quarters of a length from Highland Chief with English King, the 5/4 favourite, two lengths back in fourth. But to complicate matters Highland Chief then finished half a length in front of Mogul when the pair filled the places behind Pyledriver in the Great Voltigeur at York.
There's not much between the trio and 11/2 Mogul is spot on. I'm surprised English King (5/1) is half Highland Chief's odds (10/1), though.
Port Guillaume is the best of the home team and rightly second favourite. His sole defeat in five starts came in the French Derby over 300 yards shorter, and he was unlucky in running that day. His latest win came in a Group 2 at Deauville and I'd sooner back him than the German Derby winner In Swoop.
The win in Hamburg means In Swoop is officially rated just 1lb behind Port Guillaume - and marginally ahead of the English and Irish runners - but I don't see him being placed.
If Christophe Soumillon gets his fractions right, Serpentine should confirm the Derby form at the expense of Port Guillaume and Mogul.
Dettori's mount looks Dame good value
I was surprised to see the Ed Vaughan-trained Dame Malliot is officially top-rated of the fillies in the Gr1 Prix Vermeille at 15:35. Then even more surprised to find she is 11/1.
Frankie Dettori won the race in the same colours on Star Catcher 12 months ago and must fancy his chances of finishing in the first three as Dame Malliot has done so in all her races short of one mile five.
She is the shortest price of the four fillies her age. The question is can she beat the three-year-olds?
The favourite, Raabihah, has won three of her four races comfortably. Her sole defeat came when beaten under a length in the French Oaks. What is not to like?
The Irish Oaks winner Even So was the one I thought would be favourite, yet she is 13/2. Punters obviously reckon it was a sub-standard Classic, and they may be right as the runner-up, Cayenne Pepper, has since been beaten a similar margin by Tarnawa when 11/10 for the Give Thanks Stakes at Cork.
Wonderful Tonight and Valia are one-all in recent meetings at Group 3 and Listed level. Both are improving without looking Group 1 class.
The favourite looks vulnerable and I take Frankie to treat the assembled crowd to a flying dismount after victory on Dame Malliot.
Dyck can ditch Stradivarius
The overnight odds for the Qatar Prix Foy at 16:10 don't truly reflect 12-furlongs form. Stradivarius is undoubtedly the best of the six over a Cup trip but the champion stayer had no answer to Ghaiyyath and Anthony Van Dyck when he dropped back in trip for the Coronation Cup at Newmarket in July. On the same terms I would expect Anthony Van Dyck to come out on top again.
The three main French hopes were involved in a three-way photo for the recent Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud. Way To Paris got up close home to beat Nagano Gold a neck with Ziyad who had led until 100 yards out a head away in third. Given they were so close it may seem odd that Way To Paris is 9/2 and the other two are well into double figures. The reason is Way To Paris has finished second and fourth to Waldgeist in the last two runnings of the Prix Foy, and so has an affinity for the race. He should be thereabouts again, but Anthony Van Dyck is my pick.
Earthlight looks different class in the Prix du Pin
The Qatar Prix du Pin follows the Arc trials at 16:45. It's a Group 3 over seven furlongs that has attracted a top sprinter Earthlight and a decent miler Pretreville. William Haggas sends Tammani over but he is not in their class.
It is the perfect race for Earthlight as he is not penalised for his two Group 1 wins last year. His two runs this summer show he has clearly trained on and I would expect him to win comfortably.
There is one other British-based runner on the card. Karl Burke sends the aptly named Lady In France over for the five-furlong Group 3 Prix du Petit Couvert at 13:00.
She won a handicap at the York Ebor meeting but needs to up her game as Tour To Paris and Batwan have won Group race sprints since racing resumed in May while Air De Valse won a Listed race at the start of the Deauville summer meeting. Given that trio are as inconsistent as she is, Lady In France has an outside chance of being placed.