Ervedya: more like it when third in the Prix Jacques le Marois last timePICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
French three-handed in bid to extend fine record
OVERSEAS runners outnumber the home team in the nine-runner Group 1 Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes at Saturday with three representatives from France, one from Ireland and a first from South Africa.
Even though there is plenty going on at home this weekend, there is no British race the French love more than the Newmarket contest, and they cross the channel hoping to enhance their excellent record of five wins in the past seven years.
Their main hope appears to be the Aga Khan’s three-time Group 1 winner Ervedya, who looked to be nearing her best when third in the Prix Jacques le Marois last time.
Georges Rimaud, racing manager to Ervedya's owner-breeder Aga Khan, said: "Jean-Claude Rouget is very pleased with her and says that her condition has improved since the Prix Jacques Le Marois. He seems quite confident even though he knows that these type of races are always tough to win. The Marois was a nice performance, you couldn’t be disappointed with that as she hadn’t run for two months and was taking on the colts."
Volta, who is ridden by last year’s winning jockey Pierre-Charles Boudot, also brings a decent level of form to the table, although she has been absent since finishing runner-up to Qemah in the Prix Rothschild in July.
Back in eighth in the Rothschild was the Aidan O’Brien-trained Alice Springs, who has since bounced back to put one over her elders in the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown and bids to register her second win at Newmarket after landing the Falmouth on the neighbouring July course in the summer.
'Best filly I've had'
Although most of the field will be having their first taste of the Rowley Mile, South African mare Smart Call is not one of them, as the three-time Grade 1 winner enjoyed a workout on the track a fortnight ago.
Smart Call, who has not raced since landing the prestigious J&B Met at Kenilworth in January, will be a first runner in Britain for Alec Laird since London News, his 1997 winner of the same race, was third to Bosra Sham in the same year's Prince of Wales's Stakes.
"She's been in Newmarket for three months and luckily there's been no hiccups as we've hardly had a week to spare in her preparation," said the trainer.
"It's hard to imagine she's race fit but the way it's gone she's fit enough to give a good account of herself. We don't know where we stand but all I know is that she's the best filly I've ever had and certainly the best filly back home in South Africa."