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A few quiet weeks recently in France and plenty of time to reflect on the aftermath of Torquator Tasso’s 80/1 triumph in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (and yes, he was my selection for this column), but it is now time for the final French Group 1 of the year – the Prix Royal Oak.
The ground conditions will be gruelling, but with some interesting fields and some top-flight racing, there is definite value to be found across Sunday’s card at Longchamp – especially in the two main supporting races on the card. I have put up three selections this for Sunday and it will be a case of ‘all or nothing’ for both my NAP and NB, but my selection for Royal Oak is a beautiful horse with a big future.
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A very similar situation to Sea The Rose (our NAP later) presents itself in the very first race of the afternoon. The Carlos Laffon-Parias-trained filly TASMANIA looked to have the world at her feet when finishing second in a Group 1 at the back end of last term. Struggling to recapture her form in four subsequent runs and without a success since September 2020, the three-year-old now has plenty of questions to answer. However, she has been found the perfect opportunity by connections.
Barring the top-weight Friendly Face, Tasmania is well clear of her seven remaining rivals and if producing her best, she should either finish first or second (to Friendly Face). A 2.5kgs weight advantage over Friendly Face could be enough for Tasmania to get back in the winner’s enclosure, especially when considering that she is a daughter of Zoffany and should have no issues with the ground conditions.
The two most recent running’s of the Group 1 Prix Royal Oak have gone the way of English-trained, three-year-old colts (one of whom was also by the stallion Teofilo). Therefore, the Ralph Beckett-trained son of Teofilo SCOPE ticks a lot of boxes for the final Group 1 of the year in France and the three-year-old is most definitely the dark horse of the field. Ralph Beckett has been in fantastic form this season and could make it a French Group 1 double this weekend, following Angel Bleu’s win at Saint Cloud on Saturday afternoon.
Held in the St Leger, Scope looked a different horse when ridden off the pace last time out at Ascot and with a hot pace likely again on Sunday, the progressive, lightly raced three-year-old could be the one picking up the pieces at the end – especially as some of his main rivals have endured a tough season. Although Scope won’t mind the soft conditions, it is worth noting that his jockey Rob Hornby has never ridden around Longchamp before and has only ever competed once in France.
I have had my pants pulled down by this filly multiple times and she has generally been a disappointment this season, but the Andre Fabre-trained SEA THE ROSE looks exceptionally well treated and should take all the beating this Sunday if putting her best foot forward. Off since the month of July following some sub-standard performances at the beginning of the season, Sea The Rose has some questions to answer. But, if running to her official mark, then she should not be beaten.
Her three successive wins as a juvenile came on good to soft ground, but a decent performance in the French 1000 Guineas (where the ground was bordering on heavy) suggests that the three-year-old should handle conditions. A drop back to her favoured distance of 1,400m should help the daughter of Kendargent and she looks a solid NAP of the day.
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