Punting pointers and trainer views as Brando heads raiders in Maurice de Gheest
LARC Prix Maurice de Gheest (Group 1) | 3yo+ | 6½f | ATR
There may be a maximum field for this historic race but make no mistake, this is a high quality line-up.
Brando back on track
12 months ago Brando went from a nearly horse to Group 1 winner here under a supremely confident ride from Tom Eaves, who waited deep inside the final two furlongs before asking for his effort.
That came off the back of a career-best run when third in the July Cup and the omens for Kevin Ryan's charge are similar this time, after Brando made US Navy Flag pull out all the stops at Newmarket last month.
Ryan said: "He’s in good form, we’re very happy with him. He won the race last year and it was the obvious race to go for after the July Cup, the same route we took last year. He ran a great race last time."
Fleet Review finished less than a length back in third in the July Cup while another reopposing challenger from Aidan O’Brien’s stuttering string, Intelligence Cross, was last of the 14.
Sands Of Mali suffered a rare blip in the July Cup but trainer Richard Fahey pinpointed the Maurice de Gheest as one of his major targets for the year straight after his win at Chantilly in April.
Ascot rematch: City Light v The Tin Man
The Diamond Jubilee Stakes might have been a slightly messy affair this year but two of those that gave their running reoppose.
City Light is one of the most improved horses in Europe this season and, having done plenty of travelling, including when coming up short behind Merchant Navy at Royal Ascot, the Stephane Wattel-trained four-year-old is now racing in his own backyard.
"He seems as fresh mentally and physically as ever. It’s the logical race following Ascot," said Wattel, whose yard is adjacent to the racecourse. "Ahead of time I always expected it to be a more winnable race than the Diamond Jubilee Stakes but now we’re here, it’s a red-hot edition of the Maurice de Gheest."
The Tin Man has a fine record at Ascot and would almost certainly have finished even closer in the Diamond Jubilee had City Light not gone into the same gap Tom Queally was aiming for at a crucial juncture.
A winner at Ascot in 2017, he then disappointed in last year's July Cup and trainer James Fanshawe elected to map out a different programme for him this season.
"He ran very well at Ascot and we missed the July Cup deliberately to come for this race," said Fanshawe. "With 20 runners you just have to hope he is drawn in the right place."
Wattel: draw shouldn't be a factor
The sun has been out all week in Deauville and, while officials have watered to prevent conditions turning firm, good ground will the the order of the day.
With an unusually big field for a Group 1 - three horses were balloted out - punters' thoughts might turn into handicap mode, with worries about whether there is any sort of draw bias.
But local trainer Stephane Wattel - whose City Light has options aplenty in stall 11 - doesn't believe the draw will be a factor.
"Since the start of the meeting I haven’t detected an advantage for one side of the course over the other," he said.
Freddy's flying fillies
Having already snared the Prix Rothschild, courtesy of three-year-old With You, Freddy Head saddles two talented contemporaries.
Polydream scorched the turf here as a juvenile when comfortably defeating Laurens in a Group 3 over seven furlongs, while Efaadah was also among the best of a fine crop.
Each comes here off the back of a Group 3 success at Longchamp, with the Andre Fabre-trained Inns Of Court the runner up both times.
"They are both in very good form," said Head, who has recorded hat-tricks in this race with both Marchand D'Or and Moonlight Cloud.
"Polydream has a lot of speed and we've had this race in mind for some time. I thought Effaadah had a bit more stamina but in the end she has speed, like her sister [Alrahma]. She ran very well when third over 1,600 metres in the Prix de Sandringham, a race which has worked out well, and then won well at Longchamp on her last start."
What the rest say
Dean Ivory, trainer of Librisa Breeze
He hasn’t shown much so far this year but we are hoping for a bit of cut in the ground. I wouldn’t send him over unless I was expecting a good run.
Charlie Appleby, trainer of D’bai
He's come back from Goodwood a fresh horse. It’s as if he hadn’t had a race, so this is a perfect opportunity for a quick reappearance. He loves being in behind horses, so we knew that he had to be ridden for luck at Goodwood, but the luck never came his way. In a field of 20 this time, it could be the same story, but he is a horse who has to be produced late, right on the line.
Andre Fabre, trainer of Inns Of Court
He's in good form and handles this track well. He has an excellent record on the straight course and appears to appreciate shorter trips as well.
Brian Meehan, trainer of Bacchus
He's been in great form this year winning a hotly contested Wokingham before going very close in the Hackwood Stakes at Newbury. I feel this is his perfect trip and the ground over there will suit him. I am confident of a big run.
Aidan O’Brien, trainer of Intelligence Cross, Fleet Review and Actress
Fleet Review ran very well in the July Cup and that was the second time he was placed in a Group 1. He's been in good form since and we're happy with him and with Intelligence Cross and Actress. Good ground will be fine for all three of them.
Karl Burke, trainer of Unfortunately
We thought it wasn’t a bad run considering the ground at Ascot and any little bit of juice will be of help to him. We think he's in really good form and although it looks a very tough race, we think he can be competitive.
Alex Pantall, trainer of Wootton
He’s trying a straight course and dropping below a mile for the first time, so there are a few unknowns, but he’s a horse with untapped potential and we’re hoping for a good run.
Richard Fahey, trainer of Sands Of Mali
He needs to get away from his last run, as he was disappointing at Newmarket. I don’t know why he ran as he did, it didn’t make sense. He's got a good chance if he returns to his best.
George Scott, trainer of James Garfield
I had him tuned up to win the Greenham and by the time he got to Ascot, he may have been coming to the end of his tether. I have really freshened him up since then and I would hope he can run back up to his very best.
Mauricio Delcher Sanchez, trainer of Coeur De Beaute
We’ve got quick ground again, just like last week [when taking her out of the Prix Rothschild]. But we’ve decided to run because the filly is in great form and, after two tries over 1,600 metres, that looks to be too much for her and this trip suits her better.
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