PREVIEW: PRIX VERMEILLE, Sunday
Royer-Dupre confident "beautiful" Zarkava can stay
2.25pm Longchamp : Prix Vermeille (Group ) 1m4f
live on ATR/RUK
RECENT history tells us we are likely to see the Arc winner in action on Sunday at Longchamp – the question on everyone's lips, however, is whether it will be the ante-post favourite, the spectacular Zarkava.
The Aga Khan's unbeaten filly faces the sternest test of her career to date when she lines up for the Qatar-sponsored Prix Vermeille as part of her build-up for the Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe in three weeks' time.
The Group 1 event is one of three Group races over the Arc course and distance on a card renowned for producing the winner of Europe's richest race, although Dylan Thomas bucked the trend in 2007.
Zarkava, running over 1m4f the first time, has a slight cloud hanging over her at present following a below-par piece of work at Chantilly on Tuesday.
Even if she wins the Vermeille, recent trends are not exactly in Zarkava's favour.
No filly has won the Arc since Urban Sea in 1993, while the last horse to win both the Vermeille and the Arc in the same season was Three Troikas back in 1979.
However, trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre seems quite happy with the dual Classic winner, who hasn't run since winning the Prix de Diane in June.
Then, she stormed home ahead of Gagnoa and Goldikova, who has emphatically franked the form since with Group 1 victories in the PrixRothschild and Prix du Moulin.
Zarkava, 7-2 favourite for the Arc, is odds-on today for today's race with British bookmakers. She faces a talented field of fillies in the Vermeille, among them the John Gosden-trained pair Dar Re Mi and Michita.
Yorkshire Oaks runner-up Dar Re Mi is a beautifully bred daughter of Singspiel and Darara, who won this race in 1986 and she has already made her mark in France, having won the Prix Minerve at Deauville.
Stablemate Michita, the mount of Jimmy Fortune, was one place behind Dar Re Mi in the Yorkshire Oaks, having previously outclassed her rivals in the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes atRoyal Ascot.
Andre Fabre and Aidan O'Brien have three runners apiece. Ironically, Coolmore's Gagnoa runer-up to Zarkava inthe Diane – heads the Fabre trio, in which she is joined by Treat Gently and the four-year-old Turfrose, while Colm O'Donoghue gets the leg-up on Ballydoyle's Irish Oaks runner-up Ice Queen in the absence of Johnny Murtagh, who is in Ireland.
Jamie Spencer rides stablemate Honoria with David McCabe on Adored. Frankie Dettori partners Folk Opera for Godolphin.
What they say :
Simon Crisford, racing manager to Godolphin, owners of Folk Opera
"She is avery consistent filly and she has pleased us since her last race so we have decided to let her take her chance."
Patrick Barbe, racing manager to Teruya Yoshida, owner of Turfrose
"Andre Fabre says she is very well and in good shape. There is a bit of a question over the distance and she is better at 2,000 metres so this could be a bit long for her but we are taking our chance, hoping to get in the frame. As she is already a Group 1 winner, any placing is a bonus."
Teddy Grimthorpe,racing manager to Khalid Abdullah, owner of Treat Gently
"She's progressed and is a very nice filly – she was a bit unlucky in Deauville when she got very badly hampered on her last start in the Prix Nonette. That was over a mile and a quarter and we think she's probably better at a mile and a half, but it's a very smart race."
Alain de Royer-Dupre, trainer of Zarkava
"She will be running over a mile and a half for the first time but she does have plenty of stamina on her dam's side so I feel she will stay. She did win the Diane well over 10 1/2 furlongs and you don't always have to stay to win over this distance at Longchamp. She is looking very beautiful and personally I was not worried about her work onTuesday. She's done enough work for this preparation race but naturally she may need the race after her break. The ground should be just about perfect."
Werner Baltromei, trainer of Baila Me
"She has been working extremely well and is in good form. She stays welland loves soft ground - the more it rains the better."
John Gosden, Trainer of Dar Re Mi and Michita
"Dar Re Mi's in good form since her win in Deauville where she seemed to enjoythe ground. The filly ran a very good race behind Lash Lashes and she's pretty smart. I am very happy with her and I think she is like her dam who won the Vermeille, so the race was an obvious race for her.
"Michita is a verynice filly who won the Ribbelsdale in good style. There weren't many places to go with her so we decided to go for the Vermeille and she will be back for the Royallieu if things go to plan."
Aidan O'Brien, trainer of Ice Queen, Honoria and Adored
"We were hoping to run Ice Queen in the Yorkshire Oaks but things didn't quite work out. The filly is in good form since her run in the Irish Oaks. She is a big filly so we are hoping shewill make further progress.
"Adored ran good in the Irish Oaks and stays well. The better the ground, the better it is for her. Things didn't quite work out at Epsom.
"Honoria won a stakes race atGalway last Monday and gets a mile and half well. She is a tough filly and should handle the ground."
PREVIEW: PRIX VERMEILLE, Sunday