Sacred Life starts on home turf ahead of possible Guineas tilt
After a sodden spring which has left Maisons-Laffitte struggling to be ready, France's straight-track Classic trials have taken refuge at Deauville.
The change will have suited Deauville-based Stephane Wattel just fine as on Monday he saddles the unbeaten Sacred Life as well as the progressive Infernal Majesty in the Prix Djebel (1.50), a race with a fair pedigree in turning up the winner of the Qipco 2,000 Guineas.
Sacred Life is a best-priced 20-1 for the May 5 Newmarket Classic and Jean-Louis Bouchard, the owner of both colts, has made no secret of the fact he would like to take up the Guineas challenge if things go well.
Rain has not spared the Normandy coast with the going over the straight 7f officially very heavy.
"The weather hasn't held me up in terms of preparing the horses," reported Wattel on Sunday.
"They both worked on the track, one which I have known very well for many years and which was really heavy that day. For that reason I didn't ask the riders to go mad.
"It will be heavy tomorrow but it is no way as deep as it was ten days ago."
Mark Johnston has supplemented – at a cost of €3,500 – Cardsharp, a Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum-owned colt who was highly-tried at two and who defeated US Navy Flag at the Newmarket July meeting.
That form was turned around in both the Middle Park and Dewhurst Stakes last autumn but the son of Lonhro should provide Sacred Life with a stern test.
"We're keen to get him out and going for the year even though we don't think the ground is going to play to his strengths," said assistant trainer Charlie Johnston.
"His best form is on faster ground, but we’re keen to find out if we should be aiming at sprints or mile races this year. A seven-furlong race at this level is an ideal place to start and to find out."
The Prix Imprudence (1.20) has attracted nine fillies, among whom only the Francois Rohaut-trained Moisson Precoce holds the Qipco 1,000 Guineas entry.
The two highest-rated contenders are Zonza, who finished fifth in the Prix Marcel Boussac for Didier Guillemin, and the Freddy Head-trained Tantheem, last seen finishing seventh in the Prix Morny in August.
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