Big Ispahan test for Blue Rose Cen

25 May 2024

Blue Rose Cen

Second Gr.1 of the season for older horses, the Prix d’Ispahan will be run on Sunday at its traditional home of Longchamp. Covering the unusual distance of 1850m, it has been won in the past by milers such as Goldikova and Persian King, but also by horses more at ease over an intermediate distance like Cirrus Des Aigles or the Japanese A Shin Hikari.

This year, however, all eyes are on the remarkable Blue Rose Cen, winner of the French 1,000 GnsPrix de Diane (Oaks), and Prix de l’Opéra in 2023. Just a month ago though, she was transferred from Christopher Head’s yard to Maurizio Guarnieri’s, a move which caused quite a lot of noise in the racing world, both in France and abroad. Her participation this weekend, her first race since early-October, will be closely scrutinised.

Another filly in the spotlight is dual Deauville Gr.1 winner Mqse de Sévigné. Unraced since coming 2nd in last October’s Sun Chariot Stakes, she made short work of a Longchamp Listed on her return mid-April and will be a big player if she’s at the top of her game.

Respectively 2nd and 3rd to Tribalist in the Prix du MuguetMarhaba Ya Sanafi and Dolayli are both in with a realistic shout. Keeping them company will be Prix Ganay winner, Haya Zark, however he risks not getting the ground as soft as he likes it. Horizon Doré’s final Ganay surge did not go unnoticed and, in similar shape, he will be no soft touch.

As for the foreign representation, William Knight has had the Ispahan on Checkandchallenge’s agenda for some time and, although yet to make the first three at Gr.1 level, he has nevertheless acquitted himself well on both previous visits to Longchamp and is unlikely to go home empty-handed.

Archie Watson’s globetrotting Brave Emperor has picked up valuable prizes, mostly black-type, in Germany, Italy, Sweden, Qatar, and is unbeaten in 2 French starts. He faces tougher opposition on this occasion but is a horse with a big heart and will give his best, as he always does.

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