Doubles for Sober, Fort Payne by no means assured

25 May 2024

Sevenna's Knight

While the Prix d’Ispahan takes centre-stage on Sunday at Longchamp, it will be supported by a pair of important black-type events, the Gr.2 Prix Vicomtesse du Vigier and Gr.3 Prix du Palais Royal.

The former, run over 3100m, is open to 4+ and represents the first significant fixture for stayers on the French calendar. Won 12 months ago by André Fabre’s Sober, the 5yo is back in the ranks as he bids to repeat, a feat achieved in 2021 and 2022 by the recently-retired Skazino

Although below-par in the Gr.3 Prix de Barbeville, Sober will nonetheless be well-supported, but once again comes up against stablemate Sevenna’s Knight who cantered up that day, winning by 8L. Judging by that performance, he currently looks the best stayer in the country.

Respectively 2nd and 3rd in the Barbeville, Gr.2-placed Shembala, and 2023 Prix Royal-Oak winner, Double Major, will meet again. Second in the Dubai Gold CupAl Nayyir, and the Czech, Magic Merlin, complete the field.

The Palais Royal, in contrast, pits 3 year-olds against older horses. Run over the 1400m Longchamp ‘toboggan’, it has not been won by a horse of classic-age since Polydream in 2018. It is too early to call the race an early prep for the Prix de la Forêt, which is run over the same trip on Arc weekend, but it is a revealing distance which will suit some more than others.

Winner of a 1400m Meydan Gr.3 in early-March, Fort Payne triumphed in 2023 and Nicolas Caullery’s 6yo takes his chances once more. Mount Athos for James Tate and Zoom, trained by André Fabre are amongst the main contenders.

Exxtra already has a race in her and runs with a live chance, while recent Class 1 winner, Breizh Sky, has three and should also makes his presence felt. Yosemite Valley and National Service are worth keeping an eye on.

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