Beguigne aims to repeat family history with Loi
Preview: France, Monday (1.50pm BST)
Longchamp: Prix Noailles (Group 2) 1m2½f, 3yo colts & fillies
A FIELD of six with only one previous Group-race winner may not look the obvious place to launch the search for Classic prospects, but the Prix Noailles is the first of the 'Poules de Produits' which make up the traditional trials for the Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby).
While you have to go back to Anabaa Blue in 2001 for the last Noailles winner to double up at Chantilly, Soldier Of Fortune took this en-route to Derby glory at the Curragh in 2007.
Loi (Jean-Marie Beguigne/Olivier Peslier) ended 2011 with a convincing success in the Prix de Conde, after which connections spoke of the long-striding colt as a possible candidate for Epsom.
The form of the Conde looks significantly stronger six months later, with runner-up Yang Tse Kiang having finished second in the UAE Derby and third-placed Lidari having won a Listed race on his seasonal re-appearance at Saint-Cloud last month.
That has led Beguigne and owner EnricoCiampi to turn their sights toward the Jockey Club, a race the trainer won in 2007 with Loi's sire Lawman.
"He's improved physically since last year," said Beguigne. "He's not a horse who does a lot in the mornings, so it's difficult to say exactly where he is. But he's in good form for his comeback, and how he runs will direct us where to go next."
The Aga Khan's Lidari (Jean-Claude Rouget/Christophe Soumillon) has two and a quarter lengths to find with Loi on their running last October.
"I don't see it as a case of revenge," said Rouget on Sunday. "He's improved since his first raceback, so we'll see how he gets on tomorrow."
Among those who are stepping up in class, Hard Dream (Francois Rohaut/Stephane Pasquier) has done his learning away from the spotlight in the South West and the value of his wins at Bordeaux and Toulouse is difficult to assess.
Valdo Bere (Etienne Leenders/Thierry Jarnet) went into plenty of notebooks after staying on to take third behind possible Investec Derby candidate Kesampour last time in the Listed Prix Francois Mathet.