Lightning to strike twice? All the key quotes ahead of Prix du Moulin thriller
Prix du Moulin de Longchamp (Group 1) | 1m | 3yo+ | ATR/RUK
The handicapper may not feel Lightning Spear is getting better with age but the seven-year-old is enjoying a marquee season. Having missed out narrowly on a maiden Group 1 success in the Lockinge, he produced a fabulous effort to right that wrong when running down Expert Eye in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood last month.
The Prix du Moulin sees Lightning Spear lock horns with Expert Eye again, with Prix Jacques le Marois runner-up Recoletos leading the home contingent.
"He had a pretty easy time after the Sussex and we didn’t do much with him until the last fortnight," said Lightning Spear's trainer David Simcock. "He has trained well, he seems very happy going into the race and, most importantly, he’ll be getting good ground."
Simcock enjoyed his Classic breakthrough in May with Teppal in the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches over Longchamp's Grande Piste and is well aware that an outside draw is not ideal, although in a field of 11 it should be less of a factor.
"On this track stall ten isn’t going to be straightforward but Oisin [Murphy] knows him very well and will slot him in accordingly," he said.
Expert Eye out to overturn Sussex form
Expert Eye has never been out of the first two in six starts away from Newmarket and arrives here off the back of three good performances.
Khalid Abdullah's son of Acclamation was forced to do much of his own pacemaking alongside Without Parole in a Sussex Stakes that turned into a sprint, at the end of which he was something of a sitting duck for Lightning Spear.
But Sir Michael Stoute appears to have got Expert Eye in a much better place mentally over his last three starts and connections are hopeful of another good effort back at Group 1 level after he enjoyed a confidence-boosting win over seven furlongs at York.
"I think he's a more mature horse both mentally and physically now," said racing manager Teddy Grimthorpe. "The Jersey Stakes re-ignited his season and then he ran a super race in the Sussex, while at York he picked up well off a muddling pace.
"We’ve always been pretty confident that he stays a mile and on the dam’s side there is plenty there. He ran right to the line at Goodwood."
Gosden looking for smooth passage
Without Parole looked to have the world at his feet when stretching his unbeaten record to four in the St James's Palace Stakes but things have not gone nearly so smoothly in a pair of all-aged Group 1 assignments since Royal Ascot.
Left in front with no pace on, the son of Frankel ran no sort of race in the Sussex before Frankie Dettori found himself metaphorically locked in jail when Without Parole tried a mile and a quarter at York for the first time.
"He got rather buffeted about in the Juddmonte, which was a rough race, but didn't lose his ground and has come out of that well," said John Gosden. "He's back to a mile and he likes fast ground and hopefully he'll get a clearer passage this time."
Regular Recoletos ready to run his race
While an aversion to needles apparently lay at the root of his sub-par performance in the Queen Anne Stakes, Recoletos has been little short of a revelation since being dropped in trip and reinvented as a Group 1 miler, landing the Prix du Muguet and Prix d'Ispahan in the spring.
After the debacle of Ascot, Carlos Laffon-Parias' stable star roared back to form when finding only Alpha Centauri too good in the Prix Jacques le Marois, a performance that the French handicapper has rated 2lb superior to Lightning Spear's in the Sussex.
"If you take out the Queen Anne he's very consistent in terms of the level he runs to," said Laffon-Parias. "Even at Ascot in the Champion Stakes last year he ran really well in fourth and he always gives his best. Like most good horses he prefers there to be pace in a race since that normally means the best rise to the top."
Fabre takes aim with talented duo
Andre Fabre is doubly represented as he bids to extend his record number of wins in the Moulin to seven.
Much like Recoletos, Plumatic has come back in trip this year and showed his wellbeing with a cosy success in the Group 3 Sovereign Stakes at Salisbury.
Fabre said: "I have a certain confidence in Plumatic, who has a very good level of form when he has the right conditions, as he needs good ground. He is closely matched with Recoletos from their running at Maisons-Laffitte last year."
Wind Chimes was an effortless winner of the Group 3 Prix de Lieurey last time and Pierre-Charles Boudot has got down to his lowest realistic weight to take the ride, although he will be carrying 1lb over Wind Chimes' allotted 8st 9lb.
Fabre said: "With the filly I have no idea how her form stacks up with the colts but the two options for her at this time of the year are to run in the Moulin or stay in her box. She seems in good form."
Pantall wants pace for Wootton
Wootton has suffered a frustrating campaign in many ways since winning the Prix de Fontainebleau here in April, although he is undoubtedly a talented performer when things fall right for him.
Having pulled too hard in the Poule d'Essai des Poulains and St James's Palace Stakes, he was tried as a sprinter in the Prix Maurice de Gheest without any great success.
"Trying him back in trip didn’t work out last time and this looks like his optimum distance," said Alex Pantall. "His last work was very good and I’m expecting there should be plenty of pace on. That ought to help him as he can get a bit lit up early on in his races."
Graffard sets Homerique intriguing test
Homerique is yet another contender to be coming back in trip, having been narrowly beaten by Laurens in the Prix de Diane Longines and then running out an easy winner of the Prix de Psyche, also over a mile and a quarter.
"She has made a lot of physical progress through the season and has a good turn of foot, which is why we’re trying her at 1,600 metres," said trainer Francis Graffard. "In Europe over 2,000 metres there is the Prix de la Nonette and then the Opera and nothing in between, so we’ll see how she gets on before deciding on where we go next."
Chappet hopes Intellogent can rebound
Intellogent is on a slight retrieval mission after failing to convert Group 1 success against his own age group in the Prix Jean Prat into a meaningful challenge for the Marois over the same course and distance.
"I think he was a bit below his best in the Jacques le Marois, even allowing for the fact it was a better class of opposition than in the Jean Prat," said Fabrice Chappet. "The horse has worked well and the only thing is that, as in the Jockey Club, we haven’t enjoyed the best of luck with the draw. But I expect him to run well."
Julius back from vacation
Jerome Reynier has given Royal Julius plenty of time to get over his exertions behind Poet's Word and Cracksman in the Prince of Wales's Stakes, passing up options at Vichy and Deauville in which the five-year-old would have carried a Group 2 penalty.
"He runs well fresh and we come here with nothing to lose," said Reynier. "His main objective will be either the Prix Dollar or the Prix Daniel Wildenstein over Arc weekend and this will tell us plenty about which way to go."
Read exclusive daily previews from 6pm at racingpost.com