The French entrepreneur Marcel Boussac lived an amazing life. He bought and sold horses across Europe and the United States, escaped the World War II in a British fighter plane, and financed Christian Dior’s fashion house. All while having to deal with a wife named Fanny.
It’s no wonder they named a race after him. Aidan O’Brien has trimmed his entries in this year’s renewal (13:20) down to just the impressive Gowran maiden winner Pink Dogwood – a sister to Latrobe – so she is respected, however Ceratonia shaped as if she would benefit from a stronger gallop when second to the unbeaten Rocques in a trial for this race last month. Charlie Appleby’s filly is given the nod ahead of May Hill runner-up Star Terms and Dubai Beauty, who flopped in the same Doncaster race.
Determined to get in there before Brexit, British runners make up half of the six-runner Jean-Luc Lagardere at 13:55. Boitron – named after a town in Normandy – has run to a smart level right from the get-go, but the form of his Newbury Listed win is modest and he looks worth taking on with the unbeaten Anodor. He won a strong newcomers’ race (both placed horses have won since, including the very promising Persian King) on debut and readily maintained his unbeaten record when winning the Prix des Chenes (Shaman third) over C&D last time.
Enable is the red-hot favourite to defend her Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe crown at 15:05, and should come on plenty for her Kempton win as she blew harder than me after running up two flights of stairs. However preference is for the rapidly improving Sea of Class in receipt of 7lb. She produced a fine turn of foot when wining at York and can justify her owners’ decision to supplement her by becoming the fourth winning three-year-old filly in eight years. There are loads of dangers though, including some at a big price.
Andre Fabre has an unparalleled Arc record so Cloth of Stars and Talismanic shouldn’t be too easily dismissed, despite Waldgeist appearing to be the stable’s number one hope. Another outsider worthy of a positive mention is Capri, whose St Leger win from last year has worked out very well.
Last year’s Prix de l’Opera winner Rhododendron has failed to bloom since winning the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury in May, and of more interest in this year’s renewal (15:50) is Prix Rothschild winner With You.
Wild Illusion won the Marcel Boussac last year and was rewarded for a string of fine efforts at the top table when winning the Nassau at Goodwood last time by two lengths from Urban Fox, responding well when challenged under two furlongs out.
All are respected, but the best value lies with Lady Frankel who encountered all sorts of traffic problems when fourth in the Prix Romanet. She was third in this race last year at a big price and looks to have been trained for it once more.
We need to talk about Kevin Battaash. The Charlie Hills-trained sprinter is favourite to retain his crown in the Prix de l’Abbaye at 16:25, but he’s 6/4-against rather than 6/4-on for a reason; another Nunthorpe flop.
He remains with three outstanding efforts over the last year or so, on those clearly the best five-furlong performer for many a year, and hopefully he will show that level again here. Nunthorpe 1-2 Alpha Delphini and Mabs Cross are respected, as are Diamond Jubilee runner-up City Light, the exciting filly Tantheem and two-year-old speedster Soldier’s Call.
But there could be some value with the King’s Stand fourth Finsbury Square at a big price. He was only seventh in this race last year (fourth the season before) but arrives here fresher than most after only four starts this term.
Finally, the Prix de la Foret 17.00 trophy has been taken back to the south of England four times in the last seven years, with Ireland’s Tom Hogan also borrowing it for season, but the raiding party looks to have it all to do to rein in the Prix Maurice de Gheest winner Polydream.
She progressed again when following up a C&D win in the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville last time by half a length from James Garfield and is the clear one to beat.