Preferential heads Diane hopefuls at Longchamp
Preview: France, Sunday (1.30pm BST)
Longchamp: Prix Vanteaux (Group 3) 1m1f, 3yo fillies
THE late emergence of Preferential (Criquette Head-Maarek/Stephane Pasquier) was one of the few high points in an otherwise wretched season for her trainer in 2011.
The impeccably-bred daughter of Dansili landed a conditions race at Saint-Cloud in October over 1m before finishing an unlucky third her reappearance in a slowly-run affair at Maisons-Laffitte.
Head-Maarek said: "The filly has done well after her run, where she was the horse to beat but didn't get the breaks - but that's racing."
As to Preferential's ability to handle condition, her trainer is unconcerned.
"It won't be that bad because they've moved the rail so it's ground we haven't run on and it's always a bit quicker on the rail," she added.
Trainer Criquette Head-MaarekPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Time has shown that Sagawara (Alain de Royer-Dupre/Christophe Lemaire) ran into a potential superstar when beaten by Beauty Parlour on her debut in September.
The Aga Khan's Shamardal filly made no mistake the following month and is evidently held in high regard by her trainer.
"She's been working well, she's a little bit out of the ordinary and she likes soft ground," said Royer-Dupre. "She won on easy going last year, so it will be interesting to see what level she can get to."
If either of the top two fail to fire, Rock Me Baby (Xavier Thomas-Demeaulte/Olivier Peslier) could pick up the pieces. She made all to win a Toulouse Listed race last season and showed her wellbeing when chasing home Lily America and Kendam last month.
Keegsquaw (Andre Fabre/Mickael Barzalona) also finished third on her comeback in the Listed Prix Finland, ahead of Bubble Queen (Yves de Nicolay/Christophe Soumillon).
Also on Sunday (3.10pm BST)
Longchamp: Prix de Barbeville (Group 3) 1m7½f, 4yo+
NO fewer than four of these ran in the Listed Prix Right Royal at Saint-Cloud three weeks ago.
Andre Fabre: trains BrigantinPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Ivory Land (Alain de Royer-Dupre/Stephane Pasquier) returned to form in some style on that occasion, having previously not convinced since being stepped up in trip.
"He won't necessarily have improved since his reappearance, he was ready for that race and I think he's maintained his form," said Royer-Dupre. "I'm not sure that really soft ground is what he wants."
Brigantin (Andre Fabre/Pierre-Charles Boudot) finished extremely well from some way back to finishhalf a length back in second that day.
Consistent in these staying races, Brigantin has raced almost exclusively on a sound surface since being disqualified from first place in a Listed race over 1m4f at Vichy in July 2010.
Tac De Boistron (Alain Lyon/Franck Blondel) made rapid improvement at the end of last season and having also run an eye-catching comeback when fifth in the Right Royal should be primed for a big performance.
"His return to action was very good and he'll love the heavy ground and the distance, so it's all come right for him," said Lyon.
Prairie Star (Elie Lellouche/Christophe Soumillon) looked the most likely winner at Saint-Cloud until the enginealmost completely cut out inside the final two furlongs, after which he was allowed to coast home in his own time.
Balaythous (Brigitte Renk/Flavien Prat) is interesting on the basis of his last outing over 1m4f behind Starlish and King Of Arnor.
However he cut no ice on his previous attempt at this distance in the Prix Royal-Oak last October.