Maarek (right): a winner on Champions Day on his last outingPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
British and Irish legions aim for trio of prizes
Preview: France, Tuesday (2.20pm GMT)
Maisons-Laffitte: Prix Seine et Oise (Group 3) 6f, 3yo+
WITH the turf season in Ireland already consigned to the record books and the curtain set to fall in Britain at Doncaster on Saturday, there still seem to be plenty of stables with horses ready to run in good races.
No fewer than 11 travellers line up for a trio of Group contests, headed by Champions Sprint hero Maarek (David Nagle/Seamie Heffernan), one of six raiders in the Prix Seine et Oise.
"He's remains in great order and I'm just hoping that the gaps open at the right time and he gets a bit of luck in running," reported Nagle at Leopardstown on Sunday. "The ground will definitely be in our favour and it would be great to sign off for the season on a winning note."
Abbaye fourth Ballesteros (Brian Meehan/Eddie Ahern) will get similar conditions to his last trip to France, while Iver Bridge Lad (John Ryan/Stephane Pasquier) will be looking for a first success since this race 12 months ago.
Last-time Listed-winner Swiss Dream also has French experience, although five of her six wins have come at Newmarket.
Regal Parade (Milton Bradley/Matthew Lawson) enjoyed his finest day on Gallic soil when lifting the 2010 Prix Maurice de Gheest, a success the eight-year-old finally added to at York last month.
Khubala (Hugo Palmer/James Doyle) arrives here on the back of a second and fourth in Ascot and Doncaster handicaps.
"He's rated 94 and he's got an awful lot to find on the figures but he could very easily be going in there rated a lot higher if he'd has a little luck in running on his last two starts," reasoned Rob Speers, racing and bloodstock manager to the Araci Family.
Given events in the Abbaye, when 17 visitors went home empty-handed, the home defence can't be ignored.
Restiadargent has yet to recapture the form of her third place in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, though trainer Henri-Alex Pantall hopes a return to the scene of her two group successes as a juvenile will rekindle her spark.
"We're looking for some reassurance after she was a bit disappointing in her last two races," admitted Pantall. "We'll see if Maisons-Laffitte can revive her, she's done well here before."
Pantall also saddles dual Listed winner Sabratah (Fabrice Veron) as well as Gammarth (Johan Victoire).
"Gammarth is a good horse but unfortunately he prefers a better surface than this heavy ground," he said. "Sabratah has won a couple of Listed races. She tends to start too well and puts a lot of effort in early in her races which can cost her at the finish."
Also on Tuesday (1.50pm GMT)
Maisons-Laffitte: Criterium de Maisons-Laffitte (Group 2) 6f, 2yo
TEN face the starter in a bid to succeed Restiadargent in this €80,000 contest, with Viztoria (Eddie Lynam/Johnny Murtagh) defending a 100 per cent record after two wide margin victories on heavy ground in Ireland.
"I was obviously delighted with her last time at the Curragh and she has been in good form since," said Lynam. "Johnny takes the ride again and we're hopeful of another good run."
Boomshackerlacker (George Baker/Maxime Guyon) has kept some of the best company in the field, having finished third to Tawhid in the Horris Hill following a Listed success at Maisons-Laffitte in September.
"He won the Prix Sacara on the track under Maxime Guyon, who wanted to ride him again which is great," revealed Baker.
"He came out of the Horris Hill really well, he's a hardy horse and this seemed to be a sensible option for his final race of the year."
Penny's Picnic (Didier Guillemin/Antoine Hamelin) rebounded from a disappointing effort in the Prix Morny to dominate her Group 3 rivals at Chantilly last time, several of whom reoppose.
Pantall is represented by Sorry Woman (Fabrice Veron), for whom the trip may be the chief concern.
"She ran very well when winning at Croise Laroche and the form has worked out well with the third (Disko Dasko) winning the Criterium de Longchamp," he said. "I think 1,200m is pretty much 'the end of the world' for her."
Maisons-Laffitte: Prix Miesque (Group 3) 7f, 2yo fillies (1.20pm GMT)
PANTALL has two further chances of pattern success in a race won last season by subsequent French Guineas-placed Topeka.
"Aquatinta (Olivier Peslier) ran very well in a good race at Baden-Baden against some well-regarded horses, despite not being drawn well," enthused the trainer. "I think she would have won if she'd been on the other side. Kensea (Fabrice Veron) is a filly who has shown she has talent and I hope she can return to her best form."
A match for all on form could be Firth of Clyde Stakes winner Melody Of Love (Anne Duffield/Eddie Ahern), who was fourth last time out behind Just The Judge in the Rockfel.
"She's been a little star," said Duffield. "It's obviously a big ask and she hasn't actually got that much experience, she's only run five times. But we've everything to gain and nothing to lose."
Queen Aggie (David Evans/Wayne Lordan) has run well twice in defeat recently but has to prove she really acts on a very soft surface.