Timeform's John Ingles previews Sunday's Prix Ganay at Saint-Cloud.
"Twice successful at Saint-Cloud early in his three-year-old career, Dariyan could still have more to offer in just his second season of racing and should find this a little easier than some of his recent races."
There's something of an unfamiliar look to the first Group 1 of the year in France. For a start, the Prix Ganay has been transferred to Saint-Cloud whilst its usual home, Longchamp, undergoes renovation work. But it's also missing the horse who has made the race his own in recent seasons, Cirrus des Aigles. Successful three times from four appearances in the Ganay, the popular Cirrus des Aigles was retired in March but will be present at Saint-Cloud on Sunday when his career will be celebrated and the day's big handicap will be named in his honour.
The winner of seven Group 1 races, Cirrus des Aigles will be impossible to replace in Corinne Barande-Barbe's yard, but stable-companion Garlingari is already making a good attempt at stepping into his shoes. With forty races behind him already, Garlingari shouldn't be getting any better at the age of five, but he's thriving this spring and followed up a win in the Prix Exbury at Saint-Cloud with a comprehensive defeat of several of Sunday's rivals in the Prix d'Harcourt at Chantilly three weeks ago.
Garlingari's three-and-a-half length victory was a career-best effort, and while he'll need to improve a bit more again against some new rivals, those he beat at Chantilly will do well to turn the tables. Runner-up Sumbal is slightly better off at the weights here but had also finished second in the Exbury, fourth-placed Siljan's Saga didn't get the best of runs but probably needs further than this, while Wild Chief and Silverwave were further back in sixth and seventh.
Runner-up to New Bay in the Prix Niel last year, Silverwave is entitled to do better with that reappearance behind him and made the running on that occasion (he's normally held up) which was also his first start for Pascal Bary. Of the beaten horses in the Harcourt, however, it was fifth-placed Ming Dynasty who shaped best in staying on from the rear, though he's another in this field who looks ideally suited by a mile and a half.
There's a two-strong British challenge from Air Pilot (Ralph Beckett) and The Corsican (David Simcock) and this will be easier than the Champion Stakes in which they finished fifth and sixth respectively in the autumn. That was a career-best effort from Air Pilot at Ascot who made a good return when second in the Earl of Sefton Stakes at Newmarket recently. The Corsican raced closer than ideal to a strong pace in the Champion Stakes and a return to the sort of form that saw him finish fourth in the Prince of Wales's Stakes last year would give him leading claims here. He too has had a run this year, though over an inadequate trip in Dubai.
A couple of others who have been in action in Dubai this year are Gailo Chop and Dariyan, another pair whose best form puts them very much in the mix. Gailo Chop wasn't disgraced over a mile and a half there last time, but returns to a more suitable trip here and can take some pegging back from the front as he showed in Australia last October when recording a career-best effort to win the Mackinnon Stakes.
Dariyan finished a place ahead of Gailo Chop when sixth in the Sheema Classic last time won by Postponed, though had got closer to the top-class winner when runner-up to him in the Dubai City of Gold earlier in March. Dariyan ended last season with some fine efforts in defeat, finding subsequent Arc runner-up New Bay too good in the Prix Guillaume d'Ornano at Deauville and then running third to Highland Reel in the Hong Kong Vase. Twice successful at Saint-Cloud early in his three-year-old career, Dariyan could still have more to offer in just his second season of racing and should find this a little easier than some of his recent races.
The other runner is Norse King who registered a fourth course win here in a listed contest in March but whose recent form gives him something to find. He was third in the memorable 2014 Ganay fought out by Cirrus des Aigles and Treve. There are no such stars in this year's line-up and the selection in a wide-open renewal goes to Dariyan. He'll be ridden by Christophe Soumillon who's won the Ganay four times since 2007, including the last two runnings with Cirrus des Aigles.
Back Dariyan in the Prix Ganay