Jason Kiely rounds up today's preview of French racing with in-form trainer Francis-Henri Graffard excited about his Emoji in the Prix Vanteaux.
Our Man in France Jason Kiely spoke to yesterday’s big-race winning trainer Francis-Henri Graffard, who saddles favourite Emoji in today’s feature, the Group Three Prix Vanteaux on another exciting ten-race card at ParisLongchamp. Also, Classic contenders do battle in the Prix la Force, while some tough fillies line-up in the Prix Zarkava.
Emoji can continue Graffard’s great start
Not too many trainers have rebooted the season quite in the same fashion as Francis-Henri Graffard, who sent out the hugely impressive colt Wooded to win yesterday’s Group Three Prix Texanita at Chantilly and the trainer is hoping the purple patch can continue at Paris Longchamp today, where he saddles four runners.
"It’s great to have the racing back, especially as the horses seem to be in excellent form. We had three seconds and a third on Monday at Longchamp which were all in good races and then Wooded won the Texanita at Chantilly, that was important and the horse did it extremely well," said the trainer.
Emoji is one of the main attractions on today’s card and will line-up as a warm favourite for the Prix Vanteaux on only the third start of her promising career. A debut winner at Baden-Baden at the back end of last season, Emoji, a daughter of Soldier Hollow wasted no time in getting on the score-sheet when landing a listed event on her stable debut in March.
She showed a likeable attitude that day when leading her rivals into the straight before pulling clear towards the finish, a pleasing performance on very heavy ground and Graffard suggests that the change in terrain isn’t ideal but her class should pull her through.
"Emoji is much better suited by soft ground but looks to be a good filly and she should run well in the Vanteaux. It looks a competitive race but she is progressing nicely and is going up in trip to nine furlongs here which is a positive, she should appreciate that," said the Classic-winning trainer.
Owned by Team Valor International, Emoji holds some appealing entries both in the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches and also the Prix de Diane, which Graffard won in 2019 with Channel, but as for now her trainer is undecided as to what her next assignment will be.
“I will see how she gets on here first before I look towards the future. We are running over the nine furlong trip which is good, it allows us to keep all of our options open with an eye to races later in the year."
Apples should relish rise in trip
Before Emoji gets her moment in the spotlight the Team Valor/Graffard combination team up with the exciting filly American Apples in the first race on the card, the listed Prix de la Seine.
A beautiful grey daughter of American Post, American Apples finished an eyecatching third on stable debut at Deauville in March, making up a lot of ground in the closing stages. According to Graffard the 1,800m trip was a bit on the short side and connections are hopeful of a big run now upped to 2,200m for the first time, especially now she is back on the grass.
“American Apples is similar to Emoji In that she steps up in trip today, she ran an excellent race last-time out but that was over nine furlongs on the polytrack, a bit too sharp. She is a really tough, ten furlong plus filly and should be much better suited by these conditions, hopefully she can run a good race."
Favourite for the race Raabihah is trained by Jean-Claude Rouget and was an impressive winner on her debut in January. The well-bred daughter of Sea The Stars may well prove a class above these although the questionable current form of the Rouget stable is a worry.
Wonderment can strike for resurging Clement
An impressive winner at Saint-Cloud on Tuesday coupled with a few placed efforts in these recent days suggest that the yard of Nicolas Clement could be in rude health at the moment and the President of the Trainers Association can continue what has already been a rewarding few days as the Chantilly-based trainer saddles his stable-star Wonderment in the Prix Zarkava.
Wonderment will face eight solid rivals on her seasonal bow, having signed off the 2019 campaign with an incredibly game effort when finishing second in the Jockey Club Oaks at Belmont Park.
Undoubtedly the class act of the field, Wonderment, who landed the Group One Criterium de Saint-Cloud on only her third lifetime start passed a somewhat frustrating year in 2019, having been reeled in close home when running a blinder in the Prix de Diane before not getting the rub of the green on her next start.
Drawn in stall three and back down to her optimal distance here, the daughter of Camelot could land the spoils today.
Lofty reputations at stake in La Force
We will have to wait an see how many bubbles are left intact after the running of the Prix la Force, as all six declared runners still hold an entry in the 2020 Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) on July 5. There looks to be not much separating the top four in the market and connections will surely all be fancying their chances.
MKFancy was a tad disappointing on his comeback run, but last seasons Group One scorer should have fitness on his side and will now be associated with crack jockey Christophe Soumilllon.
His main danger could be Pao Alto, who was a four and a half-length listed winner when last seen in October and connections have ben rather bullish in the run up to this campaign.
Both Another Sky and Ocean Atlantique were rather impressive on their recent starts, notably Ocean Athlantique who stormed to an eight-length success at Saint-Cloud at the back end of last season.
The Andre Fabre trained colt is by American Pharoah and out of a Giant’s Causeway mare and he may be the one to give the more experienced runners something to think about in what is a fascinating contest.
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