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Grand Prix de St Cloud Preview

26 June 2020

There is double the joy to look forward to on Sunday with the return of racing to St-Cloud and the running of the time-honoured prestigious Group One (G1) ‘Grand Prix de St Cloud’. This is one of the most celebrated feature races of the French racing season and the biggest event of the year at the Paris racetrack.

Run over the classic distance of 2400m, for many horses this race is deemed as a lead-up to the G1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Montjeu was the last horse to complete the double whilst Waldgeist took the race in 2018 before landing the ‘Arc’ the following year.

The field may be small in numbers this year, but it certainly is large in talent.

The surprise horse this season has been Way to Paris who is yet to finish further back than second in all three races and all at G1 or G2 level. After winning the G2 ‘Grand Prix de Chantilly’ (2400m) – this year run at Deauville – he then was denied by only a head G1 success in the Prix Ganay (2100m) at Chantilly in mid-June. Many considered him a longer distance horse but this year he has shown his versatility and will have fitness on his side.

The most fascinating runner will be the Godolphin owned and Charlie Appleby trained Old Persian. Not seen since the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita (USA) in October, this globe-trotter is the winner of the 2018 edition of the G2 King Edward VII at Royal Ascot (UK), 2019 G1 Sheema Classic (Dubai) and G1 Northern Dancer Turf Stakes at Woodbine (Canada) with all races run over 2400m. A fascinating candidate prepared by a stable who tasted G3 success at Longchamp on Thursday running the one-two in the Prix de la Porte Maillot with Space Blues and D-Bai.

The other main contender is Wertheimer Brothers owned Ziyad. Runner-up in this race last year behind the John Gosden trained Coronet, he then progressed to win the G2 Grand Prix de Deauville (2500m) before placing in the G1 Canadian International at Woodbine in October. Though he may have disappointed in the G2 Grand Prix de Chantilly two weeks ago, a rebound would not surprise.

To complete the international flavour of this years’ event, the Czech Republic will be represented by Nagano Gold. This horse is no stranger to big races and last year placed in the G2 Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot (UK) then third behind Ziyad in the G2 Grand Prix de Deauville. Though not seen since finishing eighth in the G1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp in October, his trainer Viclav Luka is no stranger to a French racetrack as he regularly visits with the best of his Czech runners.         

With 2400m specialists engaged a tactical affair may ensue amongst this small field.

Picture: © APHR Ziyad winning Grand Prix de Deauville in 2019