Timeform French Preview: Prix du Moulin de Longchamp
Timeform preview the Group 1 Prix du Moulin de Longchamp...
"...proved that running all wrong when two and a half lengths second to superstar filly Alpha Centauri in the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville last time."
Timeform on Recoletos
André Fabre has a good record in the Prix du Moulin de Longchamp, having won the race six times, and he is represented this year by Wind Chimes and Plumatic. The former looked unlucky not to win when a neck third to Teppal in the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches on her second outing this year, finishing best from a poor draw, and bounced back from a modest effort at Chantilly when winning the Group 3 Prix de Lieurey at Deauville last time by three and a half lengths from subsequent listed winner Poetic Charm. Wind Chimes needs to improve on that to feature here, but it's dangerous to underestimate fillies when they hit form.
Plumatic's dam Plumania stayed well so it's no surprise that connections started him out over 1¼m, and he was far from disgraced when mid-field in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe on his final start last season. However, he has returned to winning ways since being dropped in trip, proving better than ever when landing the Sovereign Stakes at Salisbury last time by a length from Oh This Is Us, finishing with a bit in hand after leading over a furlong out. He has an unusual profile but remains with potential.
Recoletos won four of his seven starts last season, including beating Plumatic by a nose in a Group 3 at Maisons-Laffitte a year ago. He improved again when fourth in the Champion Stakes at Ascot a month later, and has taken another step forward this term, winning the Prix du Muguet at Saint-Cloud and Prix d'Ispahan here (by one and three quarter lengths from Almodovar), both in May. He was below form in the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot, at no stage threatening after being edgy and sweating beforehand, but proved that running all wrong when two and a half lengths second to superstar filly Alpha Centauri in the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville last time. With stablemate Oriental likely to help force a strong pace which will suit, a bold bid looks assured.
Intellogent was sixth in the Jacques le Marois, failing to reproduce the level of form he'd shown when winning the Prix Jean Prat on his previous start. Wootton also needs to bounce back, but he ran too badly to be true in the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville last time. He's better judged on his previous form, which includes a close-up fourth in the Poule d'Essai des Poulains and an unlucky-in-running third to Without Parole in the St James's Palace at Royal Ascot. Better is expected from the Godolphin runner.
The lightly-raced three-year-old filly Homerique was a neck third to Laurens after being supplemented for the Prix de Diane at Chantilly in June, and didn't need to be at her best to gain a deserved win in a modest Group 3 at Deauville last time. She'll need to improve to feature here, especially now dropped back in trip.
British and Irish-trained horses traditionally have a good record in this race, the likes of Rock of Gibraltar (2002), Excelebration (2011) and Ribchester (2017) all winning it since the turn of the century. This year's challenge is led by Lightning Spear, whose connections will be hoping that Group 1s are like buses; you wait ages for one, and then two or three come along at once. He broke his duck at the highest level at the 16th attempt when landing a below-par renewal of the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood last month, possessing the best turn of foot in a tactical race and beating Expert Eye by a length and a half. It's worth noting, however, that Lightning Spear has only beaten a total of 14 horses on his five starts outside of the UK.
Expert Eye, who not unusually sweated up beforehand at Goodwood, confirmed the form he had shown when winning the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot. He has since won the Group 3 City of York Stakes (by a length and a quarter from Gordon Lord Byron), and it's encouraging that he has strung three good efforts in a row, having failed to do so previously. He is yet to win over this trip, though.
Without Parole was unsuited by making the running in the Sussex, beating just one home, and he took a step back in the right direction when sixth in the Juddmonte International at York last time. Up in trip, he wasn't seen to best effect, leaving the impression a stronger pace would've suited, and his regular jockey Frankie Dettori wasn't hard on him late on. It's worth remembering how impressive he was in his first three starts this term, culminating in his St James's Palace win at Royal Ascot, and he's not discounted.
The final British challenger is Hey Gaman, a three-time winner last season who has run to a smart level in three of his four defeats this season, including when second in the Poulains over C&D in May. He produced a laboured effort in the Prix Jean Prat at Deauville when last seen, though, and is easy to oppose, along with Royal Julius, a Group 2 winner in Italy who was beaten out of sight in the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot when last seen.
It may turn out that the value lies with Lightning Spear now he has his head in front at the top level, but his poor record on the road is a nagging doubt. Ready preference between the two at the head of the market is for Recoletos, whose second to Alpha Centauri last time is arguably the best piece of recent form, and he was an impressive winner of the Prix d'Ispahan the last time he teamed up with his pacemaker Oriental.
Back Recoletos to win Sunday's Prix du Moulin de Longchamp