Prix Jacques le Marois Preview: Spear some each-way value in Sunday cracker

Galileo Gold currently heads the market for Sunday's Prix Jacques le Marois
Galileo Gold currently heads the market for Sunday's Prix Jacques le Marois

Ben Fearnley from Timeform previews Sunday's feature Group 1 race from Deauville and has recommended an each-way play.

"He was also caught too far back in the Sussex on his next start, and the ride he got didn’t get to the bottom of him."

The second, third and sixth from this year's Sussex Stakes meet again in Sunday's Group 1 Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville, and the race may well fall into British hands for just the fourth time since the turn of the century, with Galileo Gold and Ribchester joint-top on Timeform ratings for the race, after just a short-head split them at Goodwood.

Guineas winner Galileo Gold is the natural starting point for the preview. He is perhaps the rightful favourite after winning two of his four starts this season, having added the St James's Palace at Royal Ascot to his 2000 Guineas win. His seconds in the Irish 2000 Guineas (behind Awtaad) and the Sussex Stakes (behind The Gurkha) underline his consistency, and Galileo Gold is likely to run his race once again on Sunday. The Gurkha (Timeform rated 127, just 1 lb higher) turned the tables on Galileo Gold at Goodwood under a tactically different ride than he was given at Royal Ascot, but Galileo Gold was hard to put away that day, and his attitude (as well as the fact he is a straightforward ride) is a plus point that ratings can't account for. He is unlikely to go down without a fight here.

Galileo Gold beat Ribchester by three and a half lengths in the 2000 Guineas in April, but Richard Fahey's colt has clearly improved plenty since then, winning the Jersey Stakes by two and a quarter lengths (from Thikriyaat, who went on to win the Thoroughbred Stakes at Goodwood) with a very smart performance, before progressing again to finish a neck third in the Sussex last time. Ribchester had to make up more ground than both The Gurkha and Galileo Gold in the closing stages of the Sussex, and there was certainly no fluke about his improved performance, with the three principals pulling three lengths clear of Toormore in fourth. Joint on Timeform ratings at the top of the pile for this race, Ribchester and Galileo Gold will be hard to split once again on Sunday.

Next in the field on ratings is the Jean-Claude Rouget-trained Ervedya, who scored three times at Group 1 level as a three-year-old, winning the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (French 1000 Guineas), Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot, and the Prix du Moulin. Ervedya has not quite been at that level yet this season, however, well beaten by Vadamos in the Prix du Muguet at Saint-Cloud in May on her reappearance, and finishing just fifth when sent off 9/2 joint-favourite for the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot in June. Ervedya was a little disappointing at Ascot under ideal conditions and with a run under her belt, but she did shape better than the four-and-a-quarter-length beaten distance suggests, with Christophe Soumillon not giving her at all a hard time once it was clear she wouldn't be winning.

Vadamos is yet to prove himself in Group 1 company, having disappointed when sent off at 8/1 for the Champion Stakes at Ascot last October. He was actually supplemented for this race last season for €43,200 before contracting a virus and being unable to run, so connections will certainly be hoping for a bit more luck this time around. Vadamos seems to have improved with age, and is better than ever as a five-year-old, improving on his win over Ervedya in the Prix du Muguet (though he was race fit) with a high-class performance in the Prix Messidor at Maisons-Laffitte last time. Just 2 lb behind the principal British raiders on weight-adjusted Timeform ratings, he is hard to write off.

Also representing British trainers are the Qatar Racing pair of Lightning Spear and Arod. Lightning Spear ran a career best on his first start for David Simcock when third behind Tepin in the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot (Ervedya back in fifth). Lightning Spear was left with a lot to do that day, and was perhaps better than the result. He was also caught too far back in the Sussex on his next start, and the ride he got didn't get to the bottom of him. Still last 2f out, he ended up hitting the line in sixth with running left. A good pace here - which may well be forced by Arod, who has lost his way somewhat this season and needs to bounce back from a last-placed effort in the July Cup - may see him to better effect, and he makes each-way appeal at a double-figure price.

The fact that last year's winner Esoterique is way down in seventh on the weight adjusted Timeform ratings heading into this year's Prix Jacques le Marois gives some idea of the depth in the race, which may well be fought out between the Sussex second and third, Galileo Gold and Ribchester. That pair unsurprisingly occupy the first two places in the market, though, and at the prices it could be worth giving Lightning Spear another chance to build on his promising third in the Queen Anne on his first start this season, after he was not seen to best effect in the Sussex last time. He is just 2 lb away from the front pair on Timeform ratings heading into the race, and the presence of a couple of front runners (both Arod and outsider Grand Vintage usually front run) looks to be in his favour.

Recommendation:

Back Lightning Spear each-way at 16/1 for Sunday's Prix Jacques le Marois

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