The majority of the French Oaks field have a ‘p’ attached to their Timeform ratings, indicating that they are open to improvement, but as things stand there is no stand-out contender among the French fillies.
Stable-companions Speak of The Devil and Mageva were both placed in the French 1000 Guineas last month for Fabrice Chappet. That was a substandard renewal, but runner-up Speak of The Devil, making just her third start, is entitled to improve on that effort – particularly over this longer trip and has to go down as an unlucky loser at Deauville as she was beaten only a nose after having to weave through from off the pace.
The Prix Saint-Alary, which was run this year at Chantilly, over slightly shorter than Sunday’s distance, is another race from which both placed horses re-oppose.
The runner-up Magic Attitude, who won the Prix Vanteaux at Longchamp on her previous start, adds to Chappet’s strong hand. Meanwhile, Andre Fabre’s runner Solsticia finished just a head behind her in third after her jockey had dropped his whip.
The unbeaten Saint-Alary winner Tawkeel, who came five lengths clear, would have been a leading contender so it’s interesting that the same connections, Jean-Claude Rouget and Hamdan Al Maktoum, have chosen to rely instead on another unbeaten filly Raabihah.
She made it two out of two when an emphatic winner of a Listed race at Longchamp in May by four lengths and is open to any amount of improvement.
Her trainer won four of the eight runnings of the French Oaks between 2009 and 2016, while Raabihah herself has a classic pedigree, by Sea The Stars and out of a daughter of Oaks winner Eswarah.
Rouget also saddles one of two Aga Khan fillies, Vadsena was runner-up in a Listed race at Chantilly last month, while the owner’s other entry Ebaiyra looks like being the final runner in the race for her trainer Alain de Royer Dupre who is due to retire this year.
He has trained no fewer than six French Oaks winners for the Aga Khan, though Ebaiyra has more to find than most on form and drops back in trip after losing her maiden tag in the Prix de Royaumont over a mile and a half at Chantilly last month.
She had previously finished second to Solsticia in a maiden at the same course on her reappearance.
The French fillies are completed by supplementary entry Miss Extra. She has made rapid progress through the grades for the Brandt stable this season, winning a handicap at Longchamp, a Listed race at Deauville and then the Group 2 Prix de Sandringham at Chantilly two weeks ago.
All those wins were over a mile, but she stayed on well last time and is by the Arc third Masterstroke, so should cope fine with the longer trip.
Michael Tabor had his colours carried by Oaks favourite Love at Epsom on Saturday which means that Peaceful and Fancy Blue, who gave him a one-two in the Irish 1000 Guineas, head to France instead.
Peaceful will be bidding to give Aidan O’Brien his first winner of the French Oaks, with Seamie Heffernan keeping the ride, and she can improve again upped in trip. The extra distance looks sure to boost the chances of Fancy Blue, trained by Donnacha O’Brien, as she stayed on well from a long way back to grab second on the line at the Curragh, two lengths behind the convincing winner.
Fancy Blue will be partnered by Pierre-Charles Boudot who rode last year’s winner Channel.
The form of the Tabor pair gives them every chance against the French fillies, but the one they all have to beat is ALPINE STAR – who was one of the most striking winners at Royal Ascot when running away with the Coronation Stakes by more than four lengths.
Her trainer Jessica Harrington won the same race with Alpine Star’s half-sister Alpha Centauri who proved a high-class filly at a mile, but Alpine Star is by the German Derby winner Sea The Moon, which gives her every chance of staying further.
Alpine Star looks potentially high class herself, having the placed pair from the 1000 Guineas behind her at Ascot, and has now won her last three starts. Alpine Star carries the Niarchos colours, which have a long history of success in the French Oaks – including with her grandam, the 1994 winner East of The Moon.
She will also be partnered by Stephane Pasquier who was successful on the same owners’ Senga in 2017.
14:55 Chantilly – Alpine Star
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