Jean-Claude Rouget: hopes of Group 3 double at LongchampPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Rouget pair aim for winning returns
Preview: France, Saturday (1.30pm BST)
Longchamp: Prix de la Porte Maillot (Group 3) 7f, 3yo+
JEAN-CLAUDE ROUGET returned to the winners circle at the highest level with the success of Valyra in the Prix de Dianes Longines and the Pau-based trainer runs three of his most talented three-year-olds in the space of 24 hours this weekend.
While Xanadou is set to tackle Group 1 company for the first time at Chantilly on Sunday in the Prix Jean Prat, Mashoora (Christophe Soumillon) is likely to start a warm order for this Group 3, which was won by Guineas flop Moonlight Cloud 12 months ago.
Mashoora is on a similar recovery mission having finished 12th behind Homecoming Queen at Newmarket.
The daughter of Barathea was then no match for Laugh Out Loud in the Prix de Sandringham and Rouget now tries her back at 7f for the first time since her impressive display in the Prix Imprudence.
"I think the trip is her best but we'll have to see how she gets on against the older horses," said Rouget.
Among her elders Nova Hawk (Rod Collet/Christophe Lemaire) has shown progress in her two previous efforts this season, both on Longchamp's specialist 7f rollercoaster.
"She ran on the ‘toboggan' last time and we've chosen to stay at home for this race over 1400m [7f] rather than take her to Germany to tackle a mile," reported Collet, whose charge did well to finish fourth to Moonlight Cloud from an impossible wide draw last time. "It's a very competitive race with Mashoora dropping back to 1400m," he added.
Away from the fillies, the improving Sulle Orme (Christophe Ferland/Julien Auge) is lightly raced for a four-year-old and showed his liking for Longchamp when scoring in a Listed race over 1m at the beginning of May.
Also interesting on the best of his two-year-old form is American Devil (John van Handenhove/Ronan Thomas), who looked a non-stayer on his only start of the current campaign in the Prix de Guiche.
Also on Saturday (12.30pm BST)
Longchamp: Prix Daphnis (Group 3) 1m1¼f, 3yo colts & geldings
Rouget has won this race three times since it was changed in distance and venue in 2005 and is represented by another Guineas also-ran in Abtaal (Christophe Soumillon).
The son of Rock Hard Ten was sent off at odds of 7-1 at Newnmarket but finished eight lengths adrift of Camelot, having raced in the smaller far-side group.
"Abtaal was a little bit quiet after his run in the Guineas but he seems very well," reported Rouget. "He hasn't really had his ground since winning last October," he continued, referring to Abtaal's demolition of French Fifteen in the Prix Thomas Bryon at Saint-Cloud.
Mainsail (Pascal Bary/Maxime Guyon) is likely to push Abtaal for favouritism with Pari Mutuel punters, having impressed over this trip in the Listed Prix Matchem.
The Oasis Dream colt is certainly bred for the job, being a half-brother to several stakes winners, most notably 2006 Arc hero Rail Link.
Lunayir (Alain de Royer-Dupre/Christophe Lemaire) adds an interesting third dimension to proceedings, having led the Prix du Jockey Club for a long way before being caught up in the barging close home.
Mustaheel (Francois Rohaut/Francois-Xavier Bertras) had looked progressive until putting in a disappointing effort behind Xanadou in the Prix Paul de Moussac.
So Beautiful (Sandrine Tarrou/Thierry Jarnet) is likely to start at a backable price on account of her less-fashionable connections but is relatively unexposed and could go well.