Tac De Boistron: last seen going down to Gospel Choir at York in MayPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Tac De Boistron bids for repeat Royal-Oak win
Preview: France, Sunday (2.40pm live on ATR)
Longchamp: Prix Royal-Oak (Group 1) 1m7½f, 3yo+
ORGANISERS responded to the threat of losing Group 1 status for this historic race by adding an extra €100,000 in prize-money and have been rewarded with a classy line-up.
A combination of firm ground and injury have restricted Tac De Boistron (Martin Harley) to just two appearances since running away with this 12 months ago and the Marco Botti-trained seven-year-old was last seen when narrowly going down to Gospel Choir in the Yorkshire Cup back in May.
High Jinx (James Fanshawe/James Doyle) produced a mighty effort under Ryan Moore three weeks ago to land the Prix du Cadran and bids to succeed Westerner (twice) and Gentoo in winning both legs of French staying's autumn double this century.
Pale Mimosa (Dermot Weld/William Buick) appeared to be outstayed by High Jinx over the two and a half miles of the Cadran and may be more comfortable back in trip as well as on notably softer ground.
The Anglo-Irish challenge is completed by the Hughie Morrison-trained three-year-old Vent De Force, who handled the step up to Group level when narrowly beaten in the Prix Chaudenay under today's pilot Umberto Rispoli.
Recent history is not encouraging for the likes of Zarshana, Frine and Siljan's Saga, all three of whom are attempting to translate high-class form at middle distances.
Eight of the last ten winners had won a Group race over a minimum of 1m6f while, of the two omissions, Be Fabulous had won the Listed Prix Scaramouche while Les Beaufs had finished runner-up in the Group 3 Prix Gladiateur - both races over staying trips.
Zarshana bids to improve on the poor recent record of the Aga Khan's three-year-olds in this race. All five have been beaten since 2009, at odds ranging from 15-2 down to 9-4.
High Jinx has a formidable record in trips to France of 2-5-1-3-1. His trainer James Fanshawe is frequently a man to follow on his selective raids across the English Channel. Going back to 2005, only two of ten runners from Pegasus Stables have failed to be placed in the first three.
What They Say
Marco Botti, trainer of Tac De Boistron
He had a setback and we had to stop with him although, considering the ground we've had, he probably hasn't missed much. This race has been the aim and he is in great form. We have had to rush him a little bit but he doesn't need a huge amount of getting fit and we were really happy with his last piece of work.
Eric Libaud, trainer of Fly With Me
He pulled far too hard in the Cadran which was a race to forget. His form entitles him to run but I approach the race with a deal of modesty because this looks a much better race than the Cadran and will be a proper Group 1.
Philippe Sogorb, trainer of Narrow Hill
On his last try over this trip he was unlucky in the Prix de Barbeville, when he got shut in until the last 250 metres. I think the way he finished showed he is up to this level. Since then he has been running and winning in lesser company over shorter distances and he has had an easy time of it compared to some of these.
James Fanshawe, trainer of High Jinx
He seems very well at home. You never quite know how much a race like the Cadran has taken out of him. James Doyle was second on him in the Henry II so he knows him well and he has good form on soft ground.
Carlos Laffon-Parias, trainer of Frine
She remains in good form and gave me the impression last time that she would stay a bit further. She has worked well in the mornings on soft ground but you never know until they race on it.
Jean-Pierre Gauvin, trainer of Siljan's Saga
The owner suggested we enter her for this before she ran in the Arc and she has always shown that she has plenty of stamina. She has come out of it very well and she has only run six times this year so there seems no reason not to try.
Dermot Weld, trainer of Pale Mimosa
She travelled over well and got there on Thursday night. The trip should be ideal and I'm expecting a very good run from her. We won the race with Vinnie Roe back in 2001.
Hughie Morrison, trainer of Vent De Force
He came back from Paris with a bruised foot but he has bounced back and has been working well so we can't find a reason not to run him. It's very hard for three-year-olds against older horses in these staying races. Umberto Rispoli feels he might have got closer the other day if he had known the horse better.
Alain de Royer-Dupre, trainer of Zarshana
We kept her for this race. She ran well last time even though not everything went her way. The trip doesn't change anything with her. Whether it's a mile and a half or further, it all comes the same to her.