has gone all continental for the French Guineas this weekend at Deauville.
It is ladies first with the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches, French 1,000 Guineas on Saturday. Sadly the John Gosden-trained filly Dabyah has been ruled out following an unsatisfactory scope. The Pascal Bary trained Senga is jolly following her G.3 win at Chantilly whilst Andre Fabre has unbeaten Maisons-Laffitte G.3 winner Via Ravenna lining up for the home team as well. I have watched the videos and the Fabre filly showed a nice turn of foot to win at Maisons-Laffitte and straight after the race Fabre said “She is still a little bit green and inexperienced, so there is room for improvement. She holds an entry in the Pouliches and that is where she will go.” Visually the Ravens Pass filly was the more eye catching to me and is of course still open to plenty of improvement. At 5-1 she is the pick.
William Haggas has G.3 Nell Gwyn Stakes fifth Sea Of Grace going over along with 2YO Listed winner Cristal Fizz. Aidan O'Brien can call on Roly Poly, second in the G.1 Cheveley Park Stakes at two but only seventh in Nell Gwyn on her seasonal reappearance, G.3 Dubai Duty Free fourth Rain Goddess and maiden winner Smoulder.
The French 2,000 Guineas, Poule d'Essai des Poulains, is on the Sunday. Aidan O’Brien trained Orderofthegarter has been heading the market for a little while on the back of having won the Leopardstown 2,000 Guineas Trial Stakes on 8th April. At the time Aidan O’Brien said “He could be an Irish Guineas horse, and he goes on any ground. At the moment we are looking at running Churchill at Newmarket and Caravaggio in France. That is Plan A, but things can always change." Things have changed O'Brien finally confirming on Thursday talking about Caravaggio "It’s looking like he won't go to France and he'll be kept to sprinting.” Caravaggio won each of his four starts as a juvenile, including impressive displays in the G.2 Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot and the G.1 National Stakes at the Curragh. Those of course are both over only six though and it has to be said the colt has looked more a sprinter than a miler. I know his sire Scat Daddy got the eight furlongs in his career but he is better known for sprinters as a sire – see Lady Aurelia and No Nay Never that Wesley Ward famously raided the Royal Meeting with. I was not surprised to learn he will stay at home and likely run in the G.3 Lacken Stakes at Naas over six furlongs on their Royal Ascot Trials Day rather than come across the Channel. So Orderofthegarter is the main hope of the lads from Ballydoyle and at 13-2 looks very fairly priced for a Ballydoyle runner; Cliffs Of Moher who beat him in a maiden at Leopardstown last year of course gave the form a boost winning the Dee Stakes at Chester. National Defense is of course one of my Dirty Dozen; as I said at the time of picking the twelve ‘the colt looked to be on cruise control and then simply drew well clear when asked for an impressive win in the Group One Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (Grand Criterium) in October before being put away from the winter.’ Second on his seasonal debut, headed last 125 yards, you would expect him to strip fitter today for Criquette Head-Maarek who knows how to get one right for the big day and at 5-1 very unusually for me I am on two in the race.
Much nearer to Triple G Towers back here in the UK there is a good card at Lingfield on Saturday. The Listed Oaks Trial is due off at 1.55 with once raced Newcastle Tapeta mile maiden winner The Sky Is Blazing jolly. She won well and could be good but it’s hard to know what she beat that day – no runners from the race have done better than fourth since. Aiden O’Brien is represented by top rated Pocketfullofdreams who is yet to win but has been in with some decent types, including when 2nd in a Listed 1m2f heat at Navan last time clear of the rest and at 2-1 she is the pick on all known form. Ralph Beckett has Camerone who was last seen winning her maiden at Brighton in October and has an outside chance. John Gosden sends Hertford Dancer and Mary Anne Evans but I am not sure they are good enough whilst Harry Dunlop's Flight of Fantasy finally won her maiden at the fourth attempt last month and this looks a big ask for her.
In the Betfred Derby Trial at 2.30 Sir John Lavery appears to be the headline act after eight colts were declared. It’s that man again Aidan O'Brien who has won this Listed prize on four previous occasions and appears to have another big runner. The Galileo colt built on a promising Curragh debut last October, form working out well with six other winners coming from the race, with a runaway success at Gowran Park a week later and he is currently a best priced 16-1 for next month's Investec Derby at Epsom. He will need to win this if he is to have any chance in the big one and I think he can; he is best priced 6-5 for this. Godolphin have two lining-up Saeed bin Suroor's Best Solution and the Charlie Appleby-trained Zamfir. Mark Johnston sends out Frankuus and Sofia's Rock, while John Gosden is also double-handed with both Glencadam Glory and Tartini. Apex King, trained by Ed Dunlop, completes the line-up.
Back to the French theme at 3.40 as G.1 Coronation Stakes winner, and Triple G Dirty Dozen member, Qemah is the star on show when she reappears in the Group Three Betfred Chartwell Fillies' Stakes. Trained in France by Jean-Claude Rouget for Al Shaqab Racing, the daughter of Danehill Dancer also won the G.1 Prix Rothschild during the last campaign and can run in the Group Three without a penalty. Al Shaqab's racing manager Harry Herbert said: "It has always been Jean-Claude's plan to start her off here. There's no suitable race in France and she doesn't have a Group One penalty, so it fits in right. The plan is likely to be the Queen Anne afterwards, all being well. Anything like her best and she wins simple as that and I expect her to do so as a warm-up to a return to Royal Ascot. At her best she is very good and that is why she is short at 4-6 despite 245 days of the track.
There’s five there (or six I suppose) that I think can win a few bob over the weekend.