Nutello aims to strike for Arc-winning team
Preview: France, Saturday
Saint-Cloud: Prix Exbury (Group 3) 1m2f, 4yo+
THE end of the Cheltenham Festival and the Six Nations Rugby Championship can only mean that spring is nearly at hand and with it the start of Group racing in Europe.
Olivier Peslier: rides NutelloPICTURE: Mark Cranham
As late as Tuesday Saint-Cloud was blanketed in less-than-seasonal snow, meaning the six runners will be facing extremely testing conditions.
Nutello (Carlos Laffon-Parias/Olivier Peslier) finished a close-up third in last season's Prix du Jockey Club and, although failing to build on that performance in two subsequent starts, the son of Lemon Drop Kid has the benefit of a winning re-appearance on the Deauville all-weather.
"I gave him a comeback run in a race over a distance short of his best, he's more of a 2000m (1m2f) horse than 1500m (7½f)," said the Arc-winning trainer.
"He's come on a lot since the race and he's in good shape. The question mark is over heavy ground, which he's never encountered but we'll have to see how it is on the day."
Don Bosco (David Smaga/Mirco Demuro) also has the benefit of a recent win on the sand, having previously finished fourth to Espero (Jean-Claude Rouget/Gregory Benoist) in the Grand Prix de la Riviera at Cagnes-sur-Mer in February.
Of the three making their seasonal bow, Saga Dream (Freddy Lemercier/Thierry Jarnet) must concede weight to all courtesy of his Group 2 success at Longchamp last October.
Gentle Storm (Yann Barberot/Ioritz Mendizabal) was third on that occasion and may be open to more improvement.
Pagera (Henri-Alex Pantall/Maxime Guyon) produced two excellent efforts in all-female company in the second half of last season, including when chasing home Siyouma in the EP Taylor Stakes at Woodbine.
The daughter of Gentlewave may have been asked to go one too many times to the well when 11th behind Red Cadeaux on Hong Kong on her final start.