Aidan O’Brien will be hoping for a change of fortunes today as he not only saddles the well-touted Santa Barbara in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket, but also his leading four-year-old Mogul in the Group One Prix Ganay at Paris-Longchamp.
Christophe Soumillon is partnered with Mogul in a field of just seven runners, made up of five from the home team and one German raider.
Here we look over the protagonists ahead of the first European Group One of the season for older horses:
Rated 121 last year for wins in the Grand Prix de Paris and the Hong Kong Vase, Mogul has also frustrated backers with high-profile defeats in the Derby, Breeders Cup and most recently, the Sheema Classic. The trip to Dubai should have brought him along in condition though, which gives him a fitness advantage here and the fast ground is in his favour. With no Skalleti to do battle with, Mogul is the one to beat here.
The concern with him though is taking odds-on about a horse that doesn’t always hold his form and that they may be building his season towards Royal Ascot and York.
Magny Cours 11/4
Andre Fabre has won the Prix Ganay on six occasions and Magny Cours looks to hold outstanding claims this afternoon. Prevented from running at the highest level last year due to health issues, he put up a brave effort in the Dubai World Cup to finish third on dirt and it was perhaps a measure of the confidence behind him at home that he was backed on that day from 9/1 into 9/2 just minutes before the race started.
It’s well-known in the industry that Andre Fabre’s are never at peak fitness on their return to action, but some are finding plenty of improvement still from their second to third run of the year – take the Group Two winner Duhail yesterday, for example.
Magny Cours has the pace in his locker to win this if it develops into a sprint and he rates as a top chance here.
Mare Australis 11/1
Perhaps too backward last year to run in the classics, this son of Australia also represents the powerful Fabre team and is clearly a Prix de l’Arc type for this year. Second to Skalleti in the Prix d’Harcourt, the recongised prep for this, he holds strong place claims but looks poorly suited to this small field race over 10.5 furlongs on fast ground.
Gold Trip 14/1
Rated just 2lbs behind Mogul last year in the Longines rankings, Gold Trip looks a big price here at 14/1. Fabrice Chappet’s colt lacked fitness last time but the trainer still issued a recent upbeat report, saying the season is long.
Wonderful Moon 20/1
German trainer Henk Grewe is always worth respecting but here he is sending his flagship horse into a top international Group One. Considered a good thing for the German Derby last year, he failed to deliver on his promise but this son of Sea The Moon has passed a good winter and is now targeting a Group One win at four for new owner-breeders Haras d’Étreham (also entered in the Prince of Wales’ Stakes this week). Perhaps a cliche, but this one is probably another like Mare Australis that would prefer the mud to be flying.
Has regressed since a big run in the French Guineas trial last year and can be readily passed over.
Grabbed a poor place behind Skalleti in the prep for this but is unlikely to feature in this grade, with these four-year-olds having undoubtedly progressed since early April.
Race Sharp Verdict
Magny Cours looks well-worth chancing at odds of 11/4 here to serve it up to Mogul for top trainer Andre Fabre. In theory he has about 4lbs to find to topple Mogul and Gold Trip, but I can’t see a lot of pace here and to me this race has been priced as if it was over 12 furlongs. With a lethal turn of foot and a liking for fast ground, this looks a good occasion to score a first Group One.