What A Name puts Guineas claims on trial
Preview: France, Thursday (1.50pm BST)
Maisons-Laffitte: Prix Imprudence (Group 3) 7f, 3yo fillies
DESPITE the relatively small number of runners it has supplied, the fashion for going direct to the classics in Britain and Ireland has rendered the Prix Imprudence arguably the most influential trial for the Qipco 1,000 Guineas.
Special Duty (3rd in 2010) and Natagora (winner 2008) have both gone on to triumph at Newmarket, while 2003 Imprudence winner Six Perfections was sent off the 7-4 favourite, only to suffer traffic problems when second to Russian Rhythm in the Guineas.
What A Name (Mikel Delzangles/Christophe Lemaire) heads the list of those aiming to further burnish the race's reputation as a springboard for Classic success on the Rowley Mile.
After two dazzling victories against the colts, Delzangles resisted the temptation to attempt a mile on autumn ground, preferring instead to keep to male company over 7f in the Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere.
Having looked a major threat to Olympic Glory, the Mr Greeley filly was unable to overhaul her rival but her trainer still views that as a fine effort on ground that was much deeper than the likely good to soft at Maisons-Laffitte.
"Her second place on Arc day was a very good run and that was heavy," said Delzangles. "She's been working well. It's always harder when the weather is bad like we've had this year but we haven't been held up too badly and she's ready for her comeback."
Four of her ten rivals also hold a Guineas entry, with Peace Burg (Jean-Claude Rouget/Christophe Soumillon) making her first start for new connections after a very promising two-year-old career under the care of Jacques Heloury.
Her Group 3 success at Chantilly demonstrated both a turn of foot and bravery to go through a tiny gap, while her subsequent fifth place in the Prix Marcel Boussac doesn't do justice to how well she travelled before being quite badly interfered with.
Sarah Lucille (Freddy Head/Thierry Jarnet) hasn't raced since just failing to catch Purr Along at Deauville last August, although her trainer is firing in the winners at the moment from all angles.
Aquatinta (Henri-Alex Pantall/Olivier Peslier) showed her liking for course and distance when landing the Group 3 Prix Miesque last November, while the quintet of Newmarket possibles is completed by Spinacre (Pascal Bary/Gerald Mosse) who has also recently changed hands, having won at Listed level in Ireland for Kevin Prendergast.
Also on Thursday (1.20pm BST)
Maisons-Laffitte: Prix Djebel (Group 3) 7f, 3yo colts & geldings
The recent history of the Djebel is hardly any less instructive with a view to the 2,000 Guineas as it's fillies' counterpart, with Makfi winning both races in 2010 and French Fifteen just failing to repeat the feat behind Camelot 12 months ago.
Nicolas Clement will hope to defend his stable's title with Style Vendome (Thierry Thulliez), who showed his wellbeing last month when sweeping by his rivals to score on the Chantilly Polytrack over 6½f.
"I was happy with his good run the other day and he's had a good preparation since that race," reported Clement, who will make no decision between the Guineas and the Poule d'Essai des Poulains until after the Djebel.
The first three from last season's race all took their chance at Newmarket.
Despite trading at around the 50-1 mark with British bookmakers, there are in fact a trio of entrants on trial here, with Mazameer (Freddy Head/Aurelien Lemaitre) and Penny's Picnic (Didier Guillemin/Thierry Jarnet) lining up alongside Style Vendome.
Mazameer looked a colt of some promise before being finishing best of the home contingent in sixth in what may prove to have been a red-hot renewal of the Prix Morny.
Like stablemate Sarah Lucille, the son of Green Desert was spared the worst of the autumn ground.
Penny's Picnic finished even further behind Reckless Abandon in the Morny, before redeeming his reputation in some style with easy wins at Group 3 and Group 2 level.
Outside of those with Newmarket entries, My Approach (Robert Collet/Christophe Lemaire) may be worth noting.
A €260,000 purchase at Arqana in 2011, the son of New Approach was denied a winning debut by a short head last month at Chantilly but is none-the-less pitched into a Group 3 by his canny trainer.