The top jocks head to Deauville on Sunday. Racing journalist Patrick Weaver, who lives in France, previews the card...
"The champion jockey, Pierre-Charle Boudot, is on top for the first time since he won on her at Lyon in October 2017."
The feature race at Deauville is an interesting Group 3 for stayers at 15:25.
Going by the betting for the Prix de Barbeville - Call The Wind 1/2, Holdthasigreen 7/4, 16/1 bar - the two Group One winners should have the finish to themselves.
Holdthasigreen has not had a recent run, whereas the favourite went out to Saudi Arabia in February to contest the Longines Turf Handicap over today's trip of a mile and seven furlongs. Call The Wind didn't have to be at his best to account for Mekong and Prince Of Arran but he beat them readily, winning comfortably by two and a half lengths.
He has gone head-to-head with his market rival in the Group One Prix du Cadran at Longchamp last October and the year before. He came out on top in 2018 but was beaten less than a length last autumn.
That stayers' championship is over two and a half miles on soft, so is perhaps not relevant in the context of this Group Three on good. Holdthasigreen is officially rated 1lb higher (116-115) but has to give Call the Wind 6lb so all other things being equal the favourite ought to come out on top.
Recent wins at a premium in tricky handicap
Only 3 of the 13 runners in the Prix Ivanjica for fillies and mares at 13:35 have won this year - Long Island, Grace Bere and Special Appeal. Grace Bere has won her last three with Christophe Soumillon on top, but he is on Golden Rajsa, on whom he won two handicaps in 2019. Alexis Badel has not previously ridden Grace Bere.
I Am Charlie was beaten two heads in a conditions race on her latest start here. Her win strike rate of 8 wins from 50 starts doesn't inspire confidence but it is interesting that the champion jockey, Pierre-Charle Boudot, is on top for the first time since he won on her at Lyon in October 2017.
La Poutenesca is one of the last fillies bred by Oscar-nominated actor Omar Sharif, who would have raced her had he not died in 2015. The mare is inconsistent but would have a good chance on her last run in March when beaten a neck in a tight finish to a similar handicap for fillies and mares over a furlong and a half further. She was in front with a furlong to go that day.
Kaaba Stone could be placed at long odds but would be an unlikely winner as her mark is 4lb higher than for her gutsy short-head win here in December for a weaker jockey.
Time to wage War
I'm taking a punt on Warega running up to her best in the Prix Madelia at 14:15. It is a 0-60 handicap for inconsistent fillies and mares of limited ability - and that sums Soumillon's mount up. She is 5lb higher than her last winning mark but she did win by four lengths that day. She was beaten just a length off her current mark at Cagnes in February, so it is not hard to see her playing a part here.
Jo Hughes' course winner over nine and a half furlongs, Nefyn Beach is one of just two to have won this year. Shyamala who has won only two of her 40 starts is the other. She is a well-bred filly that has not done as well as many in her family but responds well to Maxime Guyon's style of riding.
Form lines point to La Norma
As maidens for two-year-old fillies go, there won't have been many with a better set of subsequent results than the one at Deauville on August 6 last year. The winner, Savarin, won a Group 3 at Longchamp the following month. The runner-up, Dream And Do, won her next three starts, including a Group 3 at Maisons-Laffitte. The third, Like A Charm, romped home in a Marseille maiden last week, her first start since. The fifth, Greenland, won her next start at Longchamp.
So what happened to the fourth, you may well ask? That was La Norma and she won her only start since, a maiden at Craon, by two and a half lengths from Queen Kahlua. That filly was an easy winner at Le Lion d'Angers on Thursday. La Norma contests the final race on the card at 17.10 and I make her the bet of the day back at the track where she made her debut.
Her stablemate, Tawkeel, came from off the pace to score at Pau. She then made all at Cagnes, again over a mile. She is still in the French 1,000 Guineas and Oaks, and would take part in the former if she wins today. Her wins have not worked out as well as the form of La Norma's races and I am not convinced Tawkeel will complete her hat-trick.
Wangari was not expected to win her maiden over today's course and distance. She was three times the odds of her stablemate, Cleante, who was runner-up under Pierre-Charles Boudot. There was a lot to like about the acceleration that took her from last to first and it is no surprise to see Boudot on board this time.
Thunderdome was claimed out of Gay Kelleway's stable for €23,250 after losing a weak claimer on the nod at Maisons-Laffitte. Rose Diamant has changed hands for €1,500 since her lifeless debut.