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Saturday, 15 December, 2018

Soft ground puts paid to Limato follow-up bid in Foret

Limato: last year's winner misses Prix de la Foret
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Limato will not bid to repeat last year's victory in the Qatar Prix de la Foret after he was taken out of  Sunday's Group 1 on Wednesday because of the ground.

Henry Candy decided conditions would be too soft at Chantilly for the fast-ground specialist and unlikely to have improved by Sunday.

Limato produced the best performance of his career on Arc day last year when he took the 7f contest. He finished second in the Foret in 2015.

"It was just because of the ground," said Candy. "We have been very lucky to have two dry Arc days the last two years. Three in a row would have been asking too much. The ground is soft now, not far off heavy, and there are two more days of rain forecast so in my opinion it wasn't worth staying in."

Candy will consider other targets in the next two weeks, although none are Group 1 options.

"The possibilities are next Saturday's Bengough Stakes at Ascot, the Guisborough Stakes at Redcar or the Challenge Stakes at Newmarket the following weekend."

Ballydoyle could play a big part in the two big juvenile races on Sunday and Aidan O’Brien has left himself options in case he wants to keep some of his star two-year-old fillies apart.

The 1-2-3 from the Moyglare Stud Stakes – Happily, Magical and September – are all entered in the fillies-only Prix Marcel Boussac but also feature in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere, in which they would receive a 3lb sex allowance taking on the colts.

In the Prix de l'Abbaye, Marsha and Battaash are among the 18 potential runners who stand their ground.

On Saturday, Big Orange will face a maximum of six rivals in the Prix du Cadran, with favourite Vazirabad and the Tim Easterby-trained High Jinx also in the field 24 hours before final declaration.

Soft ground does not favour Gold Cup winner Big Orange and a final decision on his participation will be made on Thursday morning.

Trainer Michael Bell said: "We will continue the weather watch. It's still soft at the moment but I am hoping it might dry a fraction. I will speak to the owners and we will decide in the morning."

Clerk of the course Matthieu Vincent had some slightly better news for those wanting drier conditions, with the Chantilly ground – although still officially soft – now at 3.5 on the penetrometer from yesterday’s 3.7.

“The outlook is unstable and we could get rain on Friday night or Saturday morning and again on Sunday,” he said. “By that stage we might have got to 3.4 which is pretty much good to soft so it will depend what happens after that.”

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We've been very lucky to have two dry Arc days the last two years. Three in a row would have been asking too much
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