It is one of the strongest days on the French flat racing calendar this Sunday with three Group One events (including the two aforementioned Classics, plus a Group One for Arabian Breds) alongside three further black type contests. We preview the excellent programme...
The first Classic Meeting of the French season will take place at Paris-Longchamp on Sunday with the running of both the Colts and Fillies divisions of the Poule d'Essai (French Guineas). Four other Black-Type races have been programmed – a G1 for the 4year-old+ Pure Arab Bred, a G3 over 1000m and two Listed contests.
Both divisions of the Poule d'Essai are competitive. International racing powerhouse Godolphin ran the one/two in the UK Colts equivalent at Newmarket two weeks ago but the stable reserved Modern Games for the French equivalent. As a winner of four of his races, including last start a G1 at Del Mar (USA) over this distance last November and despite racing fresh, he is the proven horse at the elite level engaged in this contest.
Jane Chappel-Hyam is a UK based trainer not afraid to travel her horses internationally. Claymore is relatively inexperienced having only two race starts but is progressive. He finished second at Newmarket in a G3 behind Native Trail who subsequently ran second at Newmarket. His maturity and race experience may come into question.
Another horse racing first-up for the spring is Bayside Boy, also trained in the UK by Roger Varian. At the end of last season, he was continuing to improve and completed the year with a third in the G1 Futurity Trophy at Doncaster (UK) run over 1600m having previously won a G2 at the same track. Being by New Bay he should continue to be seeking longer distances.
Leading French trainer Jean-Claude Rouget has won this race twice and has two runners engaged. The highly progressive and improving Lassaut, winner of his past two in restricted company and last start course and distance G3 winner Welwal are his two representatives, both with a good chance.
On this day last year St Marks Basilica won the race for Coolmore. This year Aidan O'Brien has elected to bring two horses to France for the race headed up by Ancient Rome who ran third in the trial race won by Welwal. The Acropolis also represents that stable.
The filly's division is rich with talent. History shows the UK-French 'Guineas' double can be achieved, and Cachet will be attempting to add her name to the history books. Leading throughout on the straight course at Newmarket two weeks ago, it will be interesting to see if she can apply similar tactics to the round circuit.
Rosacea is a French filly who has won her past four races in succession, the last two at G3 level including first up for the season in the traditional trial race over course and distance four weeks ago.
Aidan O'Brien has taken the bold move of elevating last start 5L Cork maiden winner Toy straight into this race.
In the G3 1000m sprint, smart filly Suesa has the opportunity for more Black Type against her name. A winner to G2, she has won five of her nine race starts and all four defeats have been in Group One races.