The entries for the French Classics are in this week, which gives fans on both sides of the Channel the opportunity to begin to unpick the dark three-year-olds from the leading stables.
The entries for races like the Prix de Diane (French Oaks) cost €2,500, meaning that even for owners with deep pockets, they are not to be taken lightly.
Entries tend to be higher for the middle-distance Classics, attracting a wider range of pedigrees, but it must be said the French 2000 Guineas looks very light at this stage, possibly reflecting the ongoing Coronavirus and Brexit complications.
Understanding that there is potential double counting in these numbers (eg. Boussac winner Tiger Tanaka is in the French 1000 Guineas and Oaks, as you’d expect), we can have a look at where the firepower is in Chantilly this spring:
Andre Fabre and Jean-Claude Rouget dominate, with a small gap back to Francis-Henri Graffard. Aidan O’Brien, John Gosden and Charlie Appleby have plenty of well-bred options.
Fabre’s Urgent Appeal will be one of the first of these all to run since entries were revealed. He goes today in a Class 1 event at Chantilly at 1.05pm. Priced up at a shade of odds-against, Godolphin’s son of Showcasing is already a winner over 6.5 furlongs on the polytrack and faces a test against confirmed stakes performers Total Knockout and Axdavali. The fact those two do not hold Classic entries is one way bettors can interpret how such a contest might play out, but at the same time, it is true that larger owners do adopt more of a scattergun approach to these entries.
With plenty of conditions races taking place at Cagnes-sur-Mer, Chantilly, Pau and Toulouse in the first two months of the year, some three-year-olds have earned these entries through merit on the track. The 2012 French Derby was won by Saonois, who came from the Cagnes programme.
These tend to be overpriced when they take on the Parisian bluebloods. Names to follow are:
- Light Stars (Jean-Claude Rouget – Cagnes winner)
- Cheshire Academy (Jean-Claude Rouget – dual Pau winner)
- Ninth Titan (Philippe Sogorb – Pau winner)
- King Shalaa (Francois Rohaut – Cagnes winner)
- Craps (Jean-Claude Rouget – winner at Cagnes and Pau)
- Gold (Christophe Ferland – Cagnes winner)
- Bobbymurphy (Frederic Rossi – Cagnes winner)
They will have plenty on to contend with the likes of St Mark’s Basilica, if he makes the trip over, but in following these types, it can draw out the interest over a longer period this spring.
Juddmonte’s maiden winners Petricor and Media Stream are noted by Pierre-Charles Boudot as two to follow (see our article here), and of course are in these entries, but unraced types who could be showing something at home, based on these entries are:
- Saiydabad (Jean-Claude Rouget – a colt by Breeders Cup Classic winner Blame, out of G1-placed Sarkiyla)
- Zaskar (Alain De Royer-Dupre – a colt out of Arc winner Zarkava… by Arc winner Sea The Stars)
- Seulomonde (Carlos Laffon-Parias – Dubawi colt out of Arc winner Solemia)
- Diverge (Freddy Head – Frankel colt out of Sparkling Beam, who split Solow and Cirrus des Aigles in a G1)
One big talking horse, who falls into this bucket, is Sea The Rocket. There are big noises for this Sea The Stars colt who is in the care of Hiroo Shimizu. Shimizu saddled just 13 winners last year, but if this colt is anything as good as Midlife Crisis on the gallops, he should have no problem winning his maiden in the coming weeks. Sea The Rocket is out of a fairly average mare, but who has given 2018 G1 winner Wonderment.
In terms of owners, Coolmore has over 50% more entries than Godolphin.