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Clash of the Generations

04 September 2020

It has been many years since a vintage crop of milers across all ages raced in feature Group contests in France. This year may have posed many challenges, but in 2020 the French feature Group races have been some of the strongest in living memory, none more so than the 1600m division.     

From the Classic G1 Poule d’Essai des Poulains and Pouliches to the G1 Jacques le Marois the best on offer from France, United Kingdom and Ireland have all challenged.    

This Sunday, Group One racing returns to Longchamp with the running of the Prix du Moulin de Longchamp (1600m). Fine weather is forecast for the coming days and the track should be in good condition for this feature race meeting.   

Whilst attracting only six runners, this race offers plenty of depth with three runners from the Classic three-year-old generation and three older horses.     

The powerful Godolphin stable is well represented with their number one choice Pinatubo being the horse to beat. Winner of seven of his nine race starts, he bounced back to the winner’s enclosure scoring in the G1 Prix Jean Prat (1400m) at Deauville in mid-July. The query will be the trip. He has faced two attempts at the journey (1600m) and, whilst resulting in placing’s, these are also the only two races he has been defeated.     

Victor Ludorum was the winner of the G1 Poule d’Eassai des Poulains (1600m) at the start of June. He was then upped in trip to 2100m and 2000m at his next two starts and finished third each time. Winner of the G1 Prix Lean-Luc Lagardère over course and distance last October, this is the journey he relishes.        

Persian King completes the trio of runners for Godolphin (he is, however, in joint ownership with Ballymore Limited). Winner of the 2019 G1 Poule d’Essai des Poulains (1600m) his form is solid for this race having won the G1 Prix d’Ispahan (1800m) at Chantilly in July and then fourth in the G1 Prix Jacques le Marois (1600m) at Deauville three weeks ago on a track surface that did not suit.     

There are three other quality horses engaged. Circus Maximus won this race last year and has maintained form this season when victorious in the G1 Queen Anne Stakes (1600m) at Royal Ascot in June. Last start third at Deauville in the G1 Jacques le Marois (1600m) may have been a better run than it looks on paper staying on for the minor placing behind two very good three-year-olds on a holding track.     

Romanised won the G1 Jacques le Marois (1600m) in 2019 and then followed up with a second in this race behind Circus Maximus. He too was a victim of the unsuitable track conditions at Deauville three weeks back in the ‘Marois’.   

Completing the field is the three-year-old G1 Irish 2000 Guineas (1600m) winner Siskin. He subsequently ran a creditable third at Glorious Goodwood (UK) (1600m) when facing older horses for the first time.     

This Longchamp meeting is also complimented with four G3 races, most primarily being ‘Arc’ trial events.     

 

For trotting enthusiasts, two excellent cards have been programmed including the final of the G3 Trophy Vert at Craon. This is the feature race of the season held on grass and after the qualifying races were conducted at provincial grass-based tracks throughout France. The horse to beat is Duel Du Gers, trained and driven by Mathieu Abrivard. Facing a 25m handicap he has won his past three races – all qualifying events for the series.     

Vincennes on Saturday will conduct three Group races with the highlight being the G2 Prix d’Eté. This will see the well placed eight-year-old gelding Cleangame attempt to make it thirty-six wins from fifty-six race starts. Trainer/driver Jean-Michel Bazire has kept the horse in peak condition and his current strike rate is very high. Ineligible to compete in G1 contests, Cleangame has been ‘mopping-up’ G2 contests including his past two at that level. In total, he has won just under €1.4m which is a phenomenal amount, considering this comes without elite level wins. He will start a short-priced favourite to continue winning.     

Picture: © APHR Pinatubo winning the Prix De Jean Prat

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