Longchamp’s second meeting of the new season features a nine-race card on Sunday, with the two Classic Trials, the Prix de la Grotte and the Prix de Fontainebleau, taking centre stage.
PRIX DE LA GROTTE
A race with a fine role of honour, Castle Lady in 2019 was the latest to use the Prix de la Grotte as a springboard to success in the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches over the same course and distance in May. The 2017 winner Senga went on to score in the Prix de Diane at Chantilly and 2016 winner Qemah landed both the Coronation Stakes and Prix Rothschild that year, so it has an impressive recent record for producing top-class fillies.
Mickael Barzalona has won the last three renewals and he maintains his association with Rougir, the Cedric Rossi-trained daughter of Territories who provided her sire with a first Pattern-level success when scoring in the Group 3 Prix des Reservoirs at Deauville in October.
She is owned by the Haras de la Gousserie, whose yellow and green silks are a common sight on French racecourses and they have developed an exceptional equine team in recent seasons, gaining top-level success in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere last season with Sealiway, who runs in the Prix de Fontainebleau. They had the following to say about Rougir’s chances when speaking to Race Sharp earlier today.
“Rougir is in good form, has wintered really well and is a magnificent filly. She should be competitive on her seasonal return.”
However, the favourite for tomorrow’s race is Sweet Lady, who represents Francis Graffard. A daughter of Lope De Vega, she had created a fine impression when scoring in heavy ground at Compiegne last October. A creditable sixth in what was a messy renewal of the Criterium de Saint-Cloud, she returned with a six-length success in the Listed Prix La Camargo at Saint-Cloud last month and is a fascinating contender, particularly now encountering a faster surface than for her two most recent wins. Though trained in the UK by Paul Cole, her dam was third in the Prix Vanteaux.
Tropbeau provided Andre Fabre with a record eighth win in the race in 2020 and he runs See The Rose, who won her first three starts at 5.5f-7f, the last of them in Group 3 company last August. A beaten favourite when fourth in the Prix Imprudence on her seasonal return, it will be interesting to see how she fares now stepping up in trip, with there being a slight question mark on pedigree over the suitability of a mile.
The other Group winner in the field is King’s Harlequin, who won at Listed and Group 3 level on good ground here last term, before a heavy defeat in a heavy-ground renewal of the Prix Marcel Boussac.
Cirona improved with racing last year and was beaten just a neck by Rougir in the Prix des Reservoirs. Runner-up to David Menuisier’s Belloccio in Listed company at Toulouse on her latest outing in November, the well-bred daughter of Maxios represents Christophe Ferland.
Silvestri represents Carlos Laffon-Parias and the daughter of Siyouni, out of a Montjeu half-sister to the 2015 Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile Stakes winner Talco, has shown distinct promise on both starts to date, finishing second on her seasonal return at Saint-Cloud.
PRIX DE FONTAINEBLEAU
The outstanding trial for the Poule d’Essai des Poulains, Persian King (2019) and Brametot (2017) both went on to French Guineas success after winning this, as did last year’s third, Victor Ludorum.
Sealiway was an eight-length winner of the Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere on heavy ground, but had shown an aptitude for faster conditions when running away with a competitive 7f Listed contest in midsummer. He is owned in partnership by Le Haras de la Gousserie and Guy Pariente, the latter having been crowned the leading French flat breeder in 2020 for the first time, and who stands Sealiway’s sire Galiway at his stud, the Haras de Colleville.
His connections told Race Sharp in advance of tomorrow’s race “he is in brilliant condition, has an excellent temperament and is ready to run a big race on his return.”
His main market rival is Parchemin, trained by 10-time Prix de Fontainebleau-winning trainer Andre Fabre. The son of Lope De Vega (who finished third in this race before winning the French Guineas in 2010 for Fabre) beat subsequent Prix Djebel winner Fast Raaj on debut last term and followed up in Listed company just three weeks later.
Policy Of Truth won a good-ground renewal of the Group 3 Prix des Chenes over this course and distance in September, before a fourth in the Criterium International at Saint-Cloud. His trainer Pia Brandt spoke to Jour de Galop on Thursday, saying “Policy Of Truth is well in himself and everything has gone as we would have hoped during the winter and into spring. Now we just have to hope he runs a big race.”
By the same sire as Sealiway, Galik is a second representative for Guy Pariente, this one trained by Christophe Ferland and a front-running winner of the Listed Prix Omnim II at Saint-Cloud last time out. He got the better of Easter that day, but Fabrice Chappet’s representative looks to have a little more physical scope to progress.