Karl Burke optimistic of more Gallic glory with mud-loving Ellthea
Karl Burke enjoyed big-race success in France last Sunday when Laurens won the Group 1 Prix Saint-Alary and the trainer has his eyes on more euros with Ellthea in the Prix de Sandringham (1.30).
Colm O'Donoghue's mount, who was beaten only two lengths when seventh in the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches last time, should relish the testing ground, according to Burke, who enjoys his French raids having also won last year's Prix Morny with Unfortunately.
"Ellthea's in great form and I believe the ground is soft, which she'll love," said Burke. "We're hoping for a big run. She ran a good race in the French Guineas and if she repeats that she should go close.
"Colm won a Group 3 at Naas on her last year and rode her in the Fillies' Mile. He's friends with the owner, so when he's available he'll probably keep the ride."
The Sandringham, a mile Group 2, was last won by a British stable in 2012, when Laugh Out Loud scored for Mick Channon.
"Ellthea's a good filly, she's 100-odd rated and warrants that. She loves soft ground – that's the key," added Burke, who suggested another British raider, Altyn Orda, could be one of the dangers.
Trained by Roger Varian, Altyn Orda represents the 1,000 Guineas form, having finished fifth behind Billesdon Brook.
Varian is also optimistic of a decent performance. He said: "She ran a super race in the Guineas and has trained nicely since. The ground had just tightened up enough for her at Newmarket and she certainly won't mind the easier underfoot conditions.
"She looks to set the form standard based on what the runners have achieved at three, so I hope she can go very close."
Shamtee has won all three starts this season and trainer Xavier Thomas-Demeaulte said: "She's adaptable in terms of trip but if I had waited to run her over nine furlongs again I'd have been stuck until July.
"She won twice over a mile before winning the Finlande over nine furlongs last time and Chantilly is uphill at the finish so you need to get the trip well. The soft ground is also a help to her."
Chantilly's card also includes the Prix de Royaumont (4.35), in which Varian runs Shaherezada.
Like Altyn Orda, she is owned by Nurlan Bizakov and finished second in a Listed race at Goodwood last time.
"She stepped forward on her Chester form when finishing second at Goodwood last week and should have more to offer the further she goes up in trip," said Varian.
"This is a trappy contest, but she should stay well and handle the ground. It would be great if she could make the frame."
The Grand Prix de Chantilly (2.35), also on the Prix du Jockey Club undercard, features the familiar names of William Buick and Charlie Appleby, who combine with useful stayer Rare Rhythm, a Group 3 winner in Dubai in March.
"We feel the drop back in trip is going to suit Rare Rhythm," said Appleby.
"He was very impressive when he won over a mile and six furlongs in the Nad Al Sheba Trophy, but I'm not sure he quite saw out the two miles in the Dubai Gold Cup.
"His home work has been good and it will be interesting to see how he gets on against some strong middle-distance opposition. He'll be fine on the ground and should be competitive."
The classy Cloth Of Stars, who also represents Godolphin, is perhaps the one to beat.
The organisation's Lisa-Jane Graffard said: "Cloth Of Stars confirmed to us that he's a true mile-and-a-half horse in the Prix Ganay, when he galloped out really strongly.
"He continues to be in great form and we hope he can gain another win. It's a tough Group 2, but he doesn't have a penalty for his Group 1 success last year."
Tiberian was fourth in a Group 3 on his return and trainer Alain Couetil said: "I thought it was a decent comeback performance the other day giving weight away all round.
"He still has a penalty but has come forward since his comeback, the soft ground won’t bother him and he's in good form."
British interest also comes in the Group 2 sprint – the Prix du Gros-Chene (2.00) – with Charlie Hills fielding A Momentofmadness, who scored at Chester's May meeting and has been diverted from the Dash at Epsom on Saturday.
"There's not a big difference between those good sprint handicappers and Group horses, and he's off his highest ever mark and improving, so I think it's worth taking a chance in a race like this," said Hills.
Christophe Ferland, who saddles Cox Bazar and Rimini, said: "The ground wasn’t to Cox Bazar's liking for his comeback and he lacked a bit of condition so I gave him a bit of time afterwards. I’ve been waiting for better ground and it’s a long season.
"Rimini is in a similar situation because he isn’t in love with deep ground and his comeback runs were a bit below par. But he's improving and is in good form."
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