Willie faces sternest test in Saint-Cloud marathon
Preview: France, Saturday (1.00pm GMT)
Saint-Cloud: Criterium de Saint-Cloud (Group 1) 1m2f, 2yo colts & fillies
CELEBRATING its 100th edition, the Criterium de Saint-Cloud is traditionally one of the toughest tests asked of the freshman generation and with further rain forecast will be run on very deep ground.
But neither the trip nor the cloying ground are of any concern to connections of the supplemented Willie The Whipper (Ann Duffield/Jamie Spencer), after he extended his unbeaten record to two in the Listed Silver Tankard over 1m last month.
David Simcock saddles one of two fillies in the field in Miss You Too (Ian Mongan), who found only Victrix Ludorum too good in a Newmarket sales race on her first start since moving to Trillium Place from the Mick Channon yard.
Local punters will almost certainly put their faith in Morandi (Jean-Claude Rouget/Maxime Guyon), who made nearly every yard on his way to a 12 length success in the Group 3 Prix de Conde on ground every bit as punishing as he will encounter here.
Wingate (Henri-Alex Pantall/Fabrice Veron) is the other member of the eight-runner field to have been supplemented on the back of a Listed win at Nantes, while his trainer also fields maiden winner Princedargent (Olivier Peslier).
Kapstadt (Francois Doumen/Umberto Rispoli) has been performing with great credit at just below pattern level, while Sempre Medici (Myriam Bollack-Badel/Alexis Badel) comes here having won the same newcomers' race as last year's winner Mandaean.
What They Say
Myriam Bollack-Badel, trainer of Sempre Medici
"He did it well in the Prix Belleville, which is a good race. The two positives are the trip and the heavy ground. The negative is his lack of experience and he'll be ridden quietly at the start in the hope that he runs a good race."
Ludovec Gadben, assistant trainer of Wingate and Princedargent
"Wingate was supplemented because he's won his last two races well and he showed at Nantes that he handles the heavy ground. Based on the female side of his pedigree he should stay the trip. Princedargent is a good looking horse who progressed well between his first and second start. The only question mark with him is whether he can stay the trip."
Ann Duffield, trainer of Willie The Whipper
"It's a huge step up from Listed to Group 1 but the owner was keen to give it a go. We've got our ground and he should get the extra two furlongs without any problem. He's a very game and genuine little horse and we're very hopeful he'll run well. Whether the step up in class is within his scope at this stage we will find out tomorrow."
Jean Claude Rouger, trainer of Morandi
"He can be held up as well, he doesn't have to lead if there is a good pace set by the others."
Francois Doumen, trainer of Kapstadt
"He's a colt that's making steady progress. Last time at Maisons-Laffitte he was beaten by a horse with a big reputation [Intello], and the same the time before so, why not take on the challenge? He has all the attributes for a task like this and he's very relaxed in his races, which will help him stay Saint-Cloud's famous 2000m."
David Simcock, trainer of Miss You Too
"She's far from straightforward but she's talented and it's a case of channeling that ability. A lot depends on how she handles the ground but, if she does I'm sure she'll run well."