There is more Group 1 action at Longchamp with the Prix d'Ispahan. Patrick Weaver previews the nine-race card and fancies the favourite in the feature race...
"Skalleti may not be a Group One winner himself but the top-notch scalps he has claimed include the Arc winner Sottsass and Mare Australis, which won the Prix Ganay."
The most valuable race in Europe this weekend has attracted two English runners but both My Oberon and Tilsit will need to improve to claim the €250,000 Group One.
Zabeel Prince was a rare UK winner in 2019 and this weekend's raiders have a tough task against a strong home team.
Skalleti can make it three from three in 2021
Skalleti is unsurprisingly favourite for the Prix d'Ispahan at 15:15. The only time he has run on English soil was in the Champion Stakes at Ascot last October. He was second to Addeybb, finishing ahead of Magical and Serpentine - both Group One winners earlier in the season.
Skalleti may not be a Group One winner himself but other top-notch scalps he has claimed include the Arc winner Sottsass, which he beat at Deauville last August, and Mare Australis, which won the Prix Ganay this month after finishing runner-up to Skalleti in the Prix Harcourt here at Longchamp over 10 furlongs in April.
I would normally side with a past Group 1 winner, and there is just the one in the line-up, The Revenant which started out with Hugo Palmer in Newmarket before joining Francis Graffard for the 2018 season.
The Revenant gained his elusive Group One win in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes over a mile at Ascot last October, beating Roseman and Palace Pier. His two most recent Group Two successes have come in the last two runnings of the Qatar Prix Daniel Wildenstein here at Longchamp, again over a mile.
Given The Revenant is unbeaten at Longchamp, and a previous Group 1 winner, why am I opposing him?
Firstly, he has not run anything like his best in weaker contests at Saint-Cloud this spring. Secondly, and possibly more importantly, he has been running over eight furlongs, and the Prix d'Ispahan is over an extra 330 yards. I attach great importance to the distance of races, and The Revenant will have to dig deep to hold the favourite's challenge in the final 100 yards.
Victor Ludorum won the French 2,000 Guineas last June but his challenge petered out in the French Derby and the Prix Guillaume d'Ornano at Deauville when stepped up from a mile to 10 furlongs. He was placed in both, as he was when finishing just in front of The Revenant and Wally in a Group 2 at Saint-Cloud earlier this month. The Revenant is the shortest price of the trio this Sunday as he had to give Victor Ludorum and Wally 4lb obn that occasion. They met at levels this time.
And so to Tilsit and My Oberon who have met before - at Glorious Goodwood in the Bonhams Stakes last July. That was a Group 3 over a mile on good to firm and there wasn't much between them. Charlie Hills once thought Tilsit might be a Derby horse but that never happened as he was late in making his racecourse debut. Hills still rates him highly, though, and believes he will stay this distance.
If you were to back one or the other each-way I suggest Tilsit, but it is definitely Skalleti for me.
Duhail just keeps on improving
I don't see there being an upset in the Prix du Palais-Royal at 14:45 either.
Duhail has to give weight to all his six rivals as he has a 4lb penalty for winning a Group 2 at Saint-Cloud this month. As he had the Group 1 winners Victor Ludorum and The Revenant behind him, that was clearly a hot contest and Duhail stands out in this contest.
Speak Of The Devil ticks several boxes. She runs well first time out, has won over course and distance and was only beaten a nose in the French 1,000 Guineas last June. She has only won a Listed and a maiden, though, so it is a big ask to topple Duhail.
Marianafoot won four on the all-weather - and was a close second in Qatar - before winning a Listed on good ground at Chantilly. Mickael Barzalona gets on well with the six-year-old and I can see him being placed. he should again account for Manjeer which was back in fifth.
Go Athletico has yet to finish out of the first three over course and distance. He quickened well to take a Group 3 here from Sealiway and Naval Crown last September and has also been placed in two Listed contests. Sure, this is a similar level but he has not finished in front of a horse as classy as Duhail before.
Connections of Namos will be disappointed to see a horse of Duhail's quality in the line-up. Namos has won four Group 3s in Germany and not made a race of it when leaving his home country, finishing unplaced at Newmarket and Newbury.
Music Sound's form just as fab as Abfab
On form you would expect the Prix de la Grande Arche at 13:33 to be between Asterella and Izumi. The former was placed in a Group 3 last season, while Izumi is 'Listed placed'.
There are four recent maiden winners in the line-up: Magic Sound (Longchamp), Abfab (Deauville), Ivresse (Chantlly) and Kaviare (Le Mans).
The form of Abfab's win has worked out well with the third home, Denia, winning at Granville and the fourth taking a maiden at Compiegne
Also in the line-up is Anatiya, a winner of an all-weather sprint at Wolverhampton for Ed and Simon Crisford in November. She changed hands at the sales for 12,000gns after a third at Lingfield and ran down the field on her first start for her new owners at Chantilly.
I was going to go with Abfab which is in the same ownership as the 2020 Arc winner Sottsass, now at stud. Her American owner, Peter Brant t/a White Birch Farm, has already turned a nice profit on her dam, Edith Wharton, having bought her for €200,000 and sold her in foal to Frankel for €500,000.
To have let her go, Brant must believe Abfab can go on to greater things, in which case there is a fair chance she can justify her overnight odds of 15/8.
However, on a line through Denia, Music Sound comes out the equal of Abfab and at 9/1 is more appealing than the favourite. Olivier Peslier is in the saddle.