Gosden hoping to see horse of old as Too Darn Hot tackles new-look Jean Prat
Qatar Prix Jean Prat | 7f | Group 1 | 3yo colts and fillies | Sky
The French racing authorities hope bringing the Prix Jean Prat down in trip will make it a better race. John Gosden hopes bringing Too Darn Hot down in trip will make him a better horse.
In the first running of the Jean Prat over seven furlongs Gosden will get the chance to see if he is right.
Last season the champion juvenile won all four of his races. This season he has lost all three of his races.
In none of those contests has he performed badly, yet his reputation has been tarnished. The opportunity to get back on track comes in a Group 1 prize that was reduced in distance from 1m1f to 1m in 2005 and is now shortened again.
The Jean Prat has traditionally been regarded as one of the European Pattern's least prestigious top-flight contests, but that will not concern Gosden or owner Andrew Lloyd Webber if Too Darn Hot can bounce back to the form of his striking Dewhurst Stakes success.
Since then he finished second on his belated reappearance in the Dante Stakes, following which Derby plans were aborted. From there he went to the Curragh and again took second in the Irish 2,000 Guineas before managing third in the St James's Palace Stakes, on both occasions flattening out inside the final furlong.
This time there is one less furlong to cover, as there is for his Robert Havlin-ridden stable companion Azano, who most recently claimed a one-mile Group 3 at Chantilly.
Gosden, who along with Too Darn Hot's jockey Frankie Dettori and Coronet won the Group 1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud last Sunday – said: "I've been very open about the fact Too Darn Hot had an interrupted preparation. Perhaps now he is settling down and going in the right place.
"This trip or an easy mile are probably his optimum and he's been in good form since Ascot."
Blues one of three runners in the Godolphin blue
The Prix Jean Prat is regularly won by Godolphin and it could be won by the operation once again, given three of Sheikh Mohammed's trainers are seeking to deliver a fourth all-blue winner in the last eight years.
Chief candidate is set to be the Charlie Appleby-trained former handicapper Space Blues, narrowly denied Jersey Stakes glory last time. He is joined by Royal Marine from Saeed bin Suroor's camp and Andre Fabre's Munitions, whose poor effort in the French 2,000 Guineas was likely due to the heavy ground.
Appleby said: "Space Blues has shown a progressive profile since being dropped to seven furlongs and I was delighted with his second in the Jersey Stakes, when the first two pulled clear of the field.
"He's shown plenty of pace this season and we felt he deserved a crack at a nice prize over this trip.
"It will be his first Group 1 start, but he won’t look out of place in the line-up. If he can continue his improvement he should be involved in the finish."
Bin Suroor admits Royal Marine – a Group 1 winner on Arc day last season – has been disappointing this year, including when only ninth in the St James's Palace. More encouragingly, his latest piece of work was strong.
Asked about Munitions, Godolphin's Lisa-Jane Graffard said: "This has been the target for the whole season and he's in great form.
"The heavy ground was the major issue for him in the Poule d'Essai des Poulains – he wasn’t able to finish his race at all – and it was his first run around a bend, which didn’t really suit."
Before the Poulains, Munitions landed the Prix Djebel, finishing just a nose in front of Graignes, who reopposes having subsequently notched fourth in the Poulains.
German hope Namos bids to build on Group 3 win
German form is well represented in the Jean Prat – and not only by a German horse.
The Dominik Moser-trained Namos posted an excellent effort when defeating a smart older opponent in The Right Man when raised to Group 3 company at Baden-Baden.
Also taking part is German 2,000 Guineas winner Fox Champion, who took the honours in Cologne for King Power Racing and Richard Hannon before running slightly below that level when seventh in the St James's Palace.
Hannon has two chances to score, with Watan carrying Christophe Soumillon for Al Shaqab Racing, which has been without a Group 1 victory since Al Wukair captured the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville in August 2017.
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