Style Vendome edges ahead in the Poule d'Essai des PoulainsPICTURE: Getty Images
Style Vendome out to defend lofty reputation
Preview: France, Sunday (2.40pm BST)
Chantilly: Prix Jean Prat (Group 1) 1m 3yo, colts & fillies
STYLE VENDOME returns to the racecourse wearing new silks and defending a reputation as one of the leading milers of his generation.
Beaten on his debut, the three-year-old has done nothing but progress since, culminating in a swooping victory in last month's Poule d'Essai des Poulains, in which his victims included subsequent Prix du Jockey Club winner Intello and Gale Force Ten, who landed the Jersey Stakes for Aidan O'Brien at Royal Ascot.
Style Vendome's Poulains victory prompted Sheikh Joaan Al Thani to step in and purchase the grey, and trainer Nicolas Clement is eager to justify the acquisition with another win this afternoon.
Clement said: "I'm very pleased with Style Vendome's preparation and hopefully he has a bit of freshness going into the race. He had a good racecourse gallop two weeks ago and I think he's very well.
"I'm happy with how the French Guineas has worked out as he won so well. This is a good race with lots of progressive horses. We have a pacemaker in there as we want a nice, genuine pace for him. I concentrate on training the horses, but it is nice to have a new owner in the yard and I want to reward his faith in me and his confidence in the horse."
Among Style Vendome's opponents are a trio of runners representing Qatar Racing, headed by Havana Gold, whose trainer Richard Hannon captured this race with Dick Turpin in 2010.
Assistant trainer Richard Hannon jnr said: "He certainly deserves to win a big one. He ran a super race in the French 2,000 Guineas and again in Ireland, but we felt he would have more chance of hitting the jackpot here than at Royal Ascot.”
Freddy Head is another to have enjoyed success in this contest, both as a jockey and a trainer, and he believes his challenger Anodin can give the favourite a headache after the decision to remove the blinkers that caused him to over-race at Longchamp in May.
Head said: "I took the blinkers away for his last run and he won and I think they got him beaten in the Poulains - he was too keen and pulled. We have also put the other horse in there to set the pace. Anodin was beaten only two and a half lengths in the Poulains and I think he can overturn that with a good run."