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French 2000 and 1000 Guineas preview: Victor Ludorum "in top form"

Sun 31 May 2020

Connections of Victor Ludorum hope the colt will feel the benefit of his prep run when he lines up in Monday’s Poule d’Essai des Poulains at Deauville.

The Shamardal colt, who is owned by Godolphin and trained by Andre Fabre, was unbeaten in three juvenile starts, culminating in the Group One Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere.

He suffered a surprise defeat on his seasonal return at ParisLongchamp, finishing only third behind the reopposing The Summit and Ecrivain, although Godolphin’s French representative Lisa-Jane Graffard expects him to progress for that outing.

However, Graffard is not so sure a straight mile at Deauville will suit Victor Ludorum, with the French 2000 Guineas transferred from ParisLongchamp this year due to coronavirus restrictions.

She said: “Andre Fabre is very happy with the colt as he is in top form. Having a runner in one of the Classics is always a huge moment.

“He was too fresh in the Prix de Fontainebleau and needed the race. It has done him good.

“We are in a year with exceptional circumstances, and everyone must adapt, people and horses. The only question mark we have is over the straight track, as he has never run on a straight before.”

Carlos Laffon-Parias, trainer of Ecrivain, has no reservations about the straight track for his charge, but would be worried if the ground was fast.

He said: “Ecrivain ran very well in the Prix de Fontainebleau. That was simply a prep race, and the objective has always been the Poule d’Essai. It was an ideal comeback race.

“The straight track doesn’t worry me, although I hope that we will have good ground that isn’t too quick, as that could damage the horses.”

Kenway was just a short head behind Victor Ludorum in the Fontainebleau and while his trainer Frederic Rossi admits he is an outsider, he feels the Deauville course will be in his runner’s favour.

He said: “Kenway gave me confidence in the Prix de Fontainebleau. A lot of things did not go his way in the race, and he ran very well.

“He comes into the Poule d’Essai as an outsider, but he is capable of running well.

“Personally, the announcement that the race was switching to Deauville was good news, he is better on a straight track and the increased pace will help him.”

Celestin was beaten on his prep in a conditions event and his handler Fabrice Chappet would like some ease in the ground.

He said: “Celestin ran a perfectly correct race on his return to competition. He is, without doubt, better on softer ground but he deserves to line up in the race. He is in great form.”

Frederic Rossi is anticipating a big run from Dream And Do as she tries to turn around recent form with Tropbeau in Monday’s Poule d’Essai des Pouliches at Deauville.

The Siyouni filly was beaten just half a length by Andre Fabre’s charge on their respective seasonal bows at ParisLongchamp, with Rossi taking heart from the relatively narrow margin of victory that day.

He said: “Dream and Do ran well for the seasonal reappearance in the Prix de la Grotte. She was a little fresh and not quite at 100 per cent for the race.

“Before then, the Fabre fillies were the ones to beat, but I think that this Poule d’Essai des Pouliches is quite open.

“Dream and Do worked well, has strengthened up, and I think she can run a big race.”

Marieta makes her seasonal return in the French 1000 Guineas having last been seen when finishing second to Albigna in the Prix Marcel Boussac in October.

Her trainer Mauricio Delcher Sanchez opted not to have a prep run after the delayed start to the campaign and he is not thrilled the race has been switched to Deauville, with its usual ParisLongchamp home currently closed due to coronavirus restrictions.

He said: “Unfortunately for us, running on a straight track does not play in our favour. It’s not ideal for those horses who have limited stamina, unlike a turning track where they have a chance to take a breath.

“Marieta in in good form. We have had plenty of time to prepare her for this race. It will be her first race of the season. The decision not to run in a prep race was mine, and I assume the responsibility of it.

“She should have run in the Prix Imprudence, but the race was removed from the programme. The other option was the Prix de la Grotte, but I felt running her over this distance just before the Poule would not suit her.

“I am even more happy that we didn’t run her there as now the Poule will not be at ParisLongchamp, with the turn, but at Deauville.

“Tropbeau really impressed me when winning her prep, but overall these are all top-class fillies who deserve to take part in the race.

“I respect each and every one of the other runners, but none of them have so far looked invincible, unless with the exception of Tropbeau.”

Francis-Henri Graffard expects Emoji to step up on her second in the Prix Vanteaux having previously been a Listed winner.

He said: “Emoji is in good form. She is in better shape than before Vanteaux – she worked very averagely coming into that race, and she came into season on race day.

“She struggled in the straight, I’m convinced that she is a miler. Emoji is a soft-ground filly, and it won’t be soft on Monday. However, she’s in great form in the mornings, so we are going to run.”

Fabrice Chappet fields two in narrow Listed second Mageva and Speak Of The Devil, who finished runner up in a conditions event on her most recent outing.

He said: “Speak of the Devil won her maiden brilliantly at Deauville last October. She then had an excellent lesson on her seasonal reappearance this year against the colts.

“She had a bad draw, and we wanted the race to be a learning experience. She finished remarkably well, only beaten by Shinning Ocean, who has been supplemented into the Poule d’Essai des Poulains.

“Since then she has been working very well. It remains to be seen whether she will be as effective against the top-class fillies of her generation, and on firm ground.

“I would have liked to bring her to this race with another run under her belt, but with the circumstances being what they are, she won’t be the only one lining up with just two starts.

“Like Speak of the Devil, Mageva was brilliant when winning her first start, and again like the former, is a daughter of the remarkable sire Wootton Bassett who has already proved his ability to produce Classic horses.

“The Prix Imprudence was taken off the programme this year, so we chose to run her in the Prix du Pont-Neuf, over 1,400 meters for her seasonal bow, as she has a lot of speed and can be a little keen.

“She also had a good learning experience, finishing very well behind Arapaho, who will be running in the colt’s Classic. She is a real good ground filly, so she will have her preferred conditions this Monday.”

Jean-Claude Rouget’s Simeen is another leading contender having run out a cosy winner of a conditions event on her seasonal return.

Meanwhile, the German 2000 Guineas will take place at Cologne and be shown live on Racing TV Extra (3.45). Germany's Horse of the Year in 2019, Rubaiyat, will start favourite after winning on his return.

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