Ben Linfoot is our man in Paris this weekend and he's previewed Saturday's card at Longchamp where Line Of Duty bids to win his first race of the season in the Prix Dollar.
A potentially historic weekend in Paris lies ahead. All thoughts are already centred around Enable and if she can do it, but let’s divert attention away from her attempt at being the first horse to win the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe three times momentarily.
For on Saturday the meeting begins in calmer waters, but plenty of big guns will still be aiming to make a splash. The two Group Ones, the Qatar Prix de Royallieu and the Qatar Prix du Cadran, take centre stage, but they are ably supported by a trio of interesting Group Two contests…
Line Of Duty aims to break 3YO duck
At the start of the campaign hopes were high for Charlie Appleby’s Line Of Duty. As a juvenile he’d won his last three races; from a Goodwood maiden that worked out well to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Churchill Downs. That American success displayed his courage and his class, while Derby-winning stablemate Masar could only finish sixth in the equivalent race at the end of his two-year-old career. Like I said, hopes were high.
Things quickly went wrong for Line Of Duty as a three-year-old, however. A delayed reappearance in the Dante at York was soured when he ran really flat, and first-time cheekpieces in the Derby could only inspire an ninth-place finish behind Anthony Van Dyck. It was no surprise that a two-month break followed, but eyebrows were raised when he returned over a mile at Deauville in the Jacques le Marois.
The son of Galileo ran a belter, though, staying on for third and almost second behind Romanised. He bettered the effort slightly next time out, too, when a one-length third to Circus Maximus and Romanised in the controversial Prix du Moulin that went to appeal. Again, he was outpaced, but, again, he ran on well.
It’s his first crack at the best part of 10 furlongs since the Dante in the Prix Dollar, but he looks a different horse now. Ready for the step back up in trip, he clearly sets the standard on his best form and he remains the one to beat even on his last two runs. Dropping in class on Saturday, he’s expected to take advantage and gain his first victory as a three-year-old.
Olmedo takes next step back to the top
If Line Of Duty does prevail in the Dollar it will give a boost to the claims of Olmedo in the Prix Daniel Wildenstein an hour later on the card. Jean-Claude Rouget’s Declaration Of War colt was fourth last time out in the Moulin, behind Circus Maximus, Romanised and Line Of Duty.
He weakened late on that day and that was a consequence of running with the choke out in the early part of the race. He couldn’t get away with it in elite company, but in the Daniel Wildenstein he might, even though there are some interesting opponents against him.
The three-year-old Shaman and the quadruple seeking Impulsif look the main dangers, but Olmedo has a class edge on that duo if he can put his best foot forward. A winner of the Poule d’Essai des Poulains last year, things haven’t gone plain sailing for him since and he’s had to try and bounce back a few times.
His form tailed off after his French Guineas victory last year, but he looked back in the groove, somewhat, when running a couple of encouraging races at Saint-Cloud in the early part of 2019. A poor effort in the Queen Anne, though, where he finished 15th, meant Rouget was back to square one.
A 58-day break and a class drop to Group Three company did the trick. He won the Prix Gontaut-Biron Hong Kong Jockey Club at Deauville over 10 furlongs, before running to a similar level when fourth in the Moulin. Another crack at Group One company, you feel, will be the end game, which makes Saturday’s Group Two assignment pretty essential in his attempted ascent back to the top.
Gosden bids to start weekend in style
John Gosden’s strength in depth in the fillies department is staggering. All you have to do is look at his squad for the Prix de Royallieu to figure that out.
His leading fancy for the race is Enbihaar, a four-year-old daughter of Redoute’s Choice who is on a four-timer going into the contest. All three of her latest victories have come at Group Two level, her most striking being her five-length win in the Lillie Langtry at Goodwood. But last time out in the Park Hill Stakes she was impressive in a different way, travelling well but toughing it out under a penalty.
She’s the one to beat on recent evidence but Gosden has able deputies in Anapurna and Lah Ti Dar if Enbihaar’s winning run comes to an end. Investec Oaks winner Anapurna was disappointing in the Prix Vermaille last time out, but she was short of room at one stage and it was her first run in 107 days.
Lah Ti Dar is just about the Gosden third string according to the betting but is a very interesting contender given she steps back up to 1m6f for the first time since she was second to Kew Gardens in the St Leger. She ran on well over 1m4f the last time she was in France – in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud (won by another Gosden filly, Coronet) – and was Enable-d last time at York.
If Gosden doesn’t take the spoils (you what?) Andre Fabre’s Musis Amica could be the one. The daughter of Dubawi has steadily improved throughout the year, but she was beaten (guess what?) by another Gosden filly in the Vermaille last time (Star Catcher) and the chances are she’ll be chasing home one or more of the Clarehaven trio on this occasion as well.
Battle of the Leger vanquished
Talking of Gosden (we’ll be doing a lot of that this weekend) his new kid on the block, Logician, could get a lovely Leger form boost at Longchamp on Saturday.
The 1m7f Qatar Prix Chaudenay features at trio of horses that were beaten on Town Moor; the third, Nayef Road, the sixth, Technician and the seventh, Dashing Willoughby.
Nayef Road is the form pick, then, and he has the assistance of Frankie Dettori, who has three rides on Saturday, but Technician and Dashing Willoughby’s chances have increased due to the soft going.
Dashing Willoughby won the Queen’s Vase on soft ground, while Technician won the Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury in August when the mud was flying. Neither will have liked the faster ground at Doncaster.
However, they might have to go some to beat the one coming up on the rails, Charlie Appleby’s Moonlight Spirit. The son of Dubawi was behind Dashing Willoughby in the Queen’s Vase, but he improved when winning the Prix du Lutece over Saturday’s course and distance on September 1, making most for an easy four-and-a-half length success.
Dee Ex Bee gets his chance at last
No Stradivarius. Never mind a violin, the absence of Gosden’s behemoth stayer will be music to Mark Johnston’s ears.
On three occasions this season Dee Ex Bee has followed home the son of Sea The Stars. He could’ve made it four had he taken up his engagement at Doncaster but Johnston pulled him out citing the ground, though a note to Weatherbys saying ‘sick of Stradivarius’ would’ve been a valid enough reason for his absence.
Two-and-a-half miles is a unique test, but Dee Ex Bee proved he stayed the trip well when second to you know who in the Gold Cup at Ascot. On that form he’s very much the one to beat. In the Cadran he can finally have his day in the sun.