A real treat for fans of the flat at Longchamp this afternoon, featuring four Group contests, some exciting and unexposed three year olds, and some top-class older horses lining up in the Prix d’Harcourt.
PRIX LA FORCE (12.58pm)
This looks a fair renewal of this Group 3, with Erasmo looking to give his trainer Andre Fabre a ninth win in the race, three of the last four victories coming for owners Godolphin. The son of Oasis Dream is a half-brother to Clive Cox’s Prix Morny/Middle Park winner Reckless Abandon and won a heavy-ground Listed at Chantilly when last seen in October.
Freddy Head won this race on seven occasions as a jockey, but is still searching for his first La Force winner as a trainer. He runs Adhamo, who started off over 6f at Deauville last summer, but won twice over 1m2f later in the season and was a comfortable winner in class 1 company on the AW at Chantilly last month. A son of Intello, his Listed-winning dam is a full sister to dual Group 2 winner Impassable, and half-sister to Group performers Attendu and Spotify. His owners are looking for a third consecutive winner in the race, following successes for Shaman (2019) and Pao Alto (2020).
King Shalaa has had a very big reputation since before his debut win at La Teste de Buch in the summer, which he backed up in a classy conditions event at Lyon in September. He made all to win on reappearance in an AW Listed contest at Cagnes in February and this will surely have been the plan ever since. The son of second-season sire Shalaa is a half-brother to the high-class Waltham, who won a Listed on his final start in France before being sold to Hong Kong.
Darkness was a Listed winner over a mile last term before finding the step up to Group 1 level in the Criterium International at Saint-Cloud beyond him. His trainer Jean-Claude Rouget won this race five times between 2001 and 2011. Minor winners Gagarin’s Moon, Gabello and Bouttemont all step up in class, the latter for trainer Yann Barberot, who landed the Group 3 Prix Djebel at Deauville during the week with Fast Raaj.
PRIX VANTEAUX (1.33pm)
Last year’s rags-to-riches two year old Tiger Tanaka, who won three early-season claimers and went on to land the Group 1 Marcel Boussac, is the highest-rated of these, but she was well held on her reappearance last month, when no match for Francis Graffard’s Sweet Lady. She could be vulnerable to improvers.
By Frankel and from a wonderful Juddmonte family, Petricor was a ready winner on her debut at Deauville in August, after which her trainer Andre Fabre nominated the Marcel Boussac as her target. She wasn’t seen again last year, but has reportedly wintered well and is a leading fancy to give her trainer his first win in this race since subsequent triple Group 1 scorer Esoterique won in 2013.
Fabrice Chappet won this last year with Magic Attitude and he runs Monia Munda Mundis, a winner on debut last year at Fontainebleau and runner-up at the same course on reappearance last month. Her half-sister Rocques was a Group 3 winner for this yard.
Lady Day is out of a half-sister to the champion Treve (also by Motivator), and she took a step forwards on her two year old form when scoring on her return on the AW at Chantilly in March. She looks a work in progress and is a likely improver.
Keyflower was a winner on debut in December and bettered that form when finishing second to La Force hopeful Adhamo on her reappearance, despite not getting a clear run in the straight. Her trainer won the Group 3 Prix Imprudence at Deauville on Thursday with Reina Madre and this powerfully-built daughter of Kheleyf is an interesting contender now switched to turf.
PRIX D’HARCOURT (2.45pm)
Skalleti has been a wonderful flagbearer for the excellent Jerome Reynier and he was a ready winner of a heavy-ground Prix Exbury at Saint-Cloud last month. The Prix Ganay on 2nd May is his main early-season target, but he should prove difficult to beat here.
Winner of the Group 2 Prix Greffulhe at Lyon last June, Gold Trip went on to finish third in the Grand Prix de Paris over 1m4f and ran a fine race to finish fourth in the Arc, where he still looked to have a chance of winning at the furlong pole.
Andre Fabre’s Prix D’Harcourt wins are in double figures, with Cloth Of Stars in 2017 providing him with a record tenth success in this. He runs Mare Australis, second in Group 2 company in October when last seen, and Algiers, who took time to find his feet last term but signed off with a success in the Listed Prix Turenne. An imposing son of the late Sharmardal, his dam Antara was Group 1-placed at four.