Holy Warrior on Saonois trail for Kelleway
Preview: France, Sunday (1.30pm BST)
Longchamp: Prix La Force (Group 3) 1m2f, 3yo
HOLY WARRIOR (Gay Kelleway/Pierre-Charles Boudot) is among three unbeaten horses to face the starter for the first Group race of the season at Longchamp.
Kelleway's charge will attempt to follow up a stylish success in the Listed Prix Policeman at Cagnes-sur-Mer, the same path taken to this race by last year's unlikely Prix du Jockey Club hero Saonois.
Kelleway said: "We had a few hold-ups with the weather in England but I managed to get up the Water Hall gallop a couple of weeks ago and he did an amazing piece of work with Jimmy Quinn on board - even John Gosden said what's that ?"
Kelleway bought the once-raced son of Holy Roman Emperor from Marco Botti's yard for Robert Ng with the specific aim of running in France and received almost instant reward when landing the Policeman under the polished Boudot.
"He feels better although he has to be because it's a better race," added Kelleway. " Group 3 is a big step from Listed class but he's been here since Monday and the preparation has gone well. Pierre-Charles said he felt good."
Jean-Claude Rouget took out France's top-rated juvenile Morandi at the forfeit stage but can still count on a pair of unbeaten representatives in Wight Is Wight (Ioritz Mendizabal) and Sefri (Christophe Soumillon).
Sefri has put together a string of three wide margin successes on the all-weather, his most recent three-length success at Chantilly probably equalling the level required of a Listed success.
The gelded Onedargent (Jean-Paul Gallorini/Thierry Jarnet) reappears just 12 days after his comeback at Saint-Cloud, having shown high-class form at two.
"He didn't have a lot of luck in his comeback run, he got knocked quite badly as he was starting his run and he thought: 'hey, what's this ?'" said Gallorini at Auteuil on Friday. "That's the reason for supplementing him here so quickly. He's entered in Hong Kong and in America and after the race on Sunday we'll decide. But the horse is progressing well."
Ketchikan (Jonathan Pease/Ronan Thomas) has also received a late entry, having won a similar race to Sefri at Chantilly last November.
Also on Sunday
Longchamp: Prix d'Harcourt (Group 2) 1m2f, 4yo+
Saga Dream (Freddy Lemercier/Thierry Jarnet) and Don Bosco (David Smaga/Gregory Benoist) produced a tremendous duel up the Saint-Cloud straight in the Group 3 Prix Exbury a fortnight ago.
Saga Dream prevailed by a head, after which a delighted Lemercier announced his stable star had only been "70 per cent ready" for his return.
Pagera (Henri-Alex Pantall/Olivier Peslier) reopposes that pair despite having finished a distant fifth, having produced a career-best last autumn when chasing home Siyouma in the Grade 1 EP Taylor Stakes.
Among those taking their first public steps of the season, Dalkala (Alain de Royer-Dupre/Christophe Lemaire) landed the Group 2 Prix de Royallieu on Arc weekend, while the supplemented Top Trip produced a string of good performances in some of the best middle-distance races having won the Prix Hocquart last spring