Jason Kiely talks to the connections of the leading fancies ahead of a star-studded Sunday card at Deauville.
The second Group 1 of Deauville’s summer meeting, the Prix Maurice de Gheest is run over the peculiar distance of 6 and a half furlongs, therefore it is often described locally as ‘a sprint and a little bit’.
Nevertheless, the €380,000 on offer has been enough to attract a strong field of fifteen runners, ten of whom are making the journey across the channel.
A race that has often played to the strengths of the visitors, the reputation of the ‘home’ team lies heavily upon the shoulders of Polydream and her jockey Maxime Guyon, the only French-trained runner in the top eight in the market.
A scorching late charge saw Polydream spoil the English party when landing last terms renewal, her trainer Freddy Head is keen on the chances of a repeat success this afternoon.
“Polydream is well, in fact I am very happy with her. Work has been going great at home and her last run was pretty good. I think that she’s in the same condition as she was when winning here last year, and so if that is the case, things are perfect and we can hope for a strong performance,” he said.
With things not quite going to plan after last year’s impressive victory, Polydream, bookies second favourite for today’s feature, returned to winning ways early last month when taking the ‘Prix du Palais-Royal’ at ParisLongchamp, for the second year in succession.
Chantilly-based Head, who has landed seven of the last thirteen running’s of the ‘Prix Maurice de Gheest’ added that the recent win gave a boost of confidence to the filly, but expressed a slight concern regarding her low draw (1).
Head went on: “We gave her an extra run this year, and last time she won well at Longchamp, that will have done her good, before that she was beaten by giving away a lot of weight to everyone. But yes, she won nicely last time and this is the same route we took last year.
"I am not sure about the draw, she will need a bit of luck, we are drawn in stall one so we will have to see how it turns out. Of course, we wait with her in behind a little bit so let’s just hope that it unfolds well in front of her.”
A perfect three from three when seen in action at Deauville, the result of today's race will be a strong indicator as to where the daughter of Oasis Dream heads next.
“We will of course have a look ahead to Longchamp, where we have the Prix de la Forêt on ‘Arc’ day. That’s over seven, so we will have a look to see if she steps back up to a mile or if we go back sprinting, those are the choices that we have, but I am expecting her to go well and she always performs well here,” added Head.
If said ‘same route’ is followed again this year, Polydream could contest the Group 1 ‘Prix de la Forêt’ in ParisLongchamp on October 6th, a race won last year by One Master, who also lines up this afternoon.
Coming here off the the back of two fine placed efforts, both in Group 1 company, finishing an eye-catching third in the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot, then a neck second in the Falmouth, One Master is one of the visitors leading hopes.
Former French champion jockey Pierre-Charles Boudot, who has twice partnered the five-year-old (most notably when winning last years ‘Forêt’ at 33/1) is back on board today and seemed quite confident on their chances of landing the spoils.
“The filly is in great form recently, she ran brilliantly for me at Ascot and then ran well again at Newmarket. The distance you could say is maybe a little bit short, but we have already won together over 1400m (7 furlongs) at Longchamp, so for me it shouldn’t be a problem,” said the 26-year old.
Boudot’s only reservation seemed to be the ground, officially described as ‘Good to Soft’ on the straight course.
“After that, we would have preferred if the ground was maybe a bit softer, that could have played to her strengths, but otherwise I think she has everything in her favour and should have a great chance,” he added.
Of course, a Group 1 race wouldn’t be the same without mentioning a certain Italian, and it is once again Martin Meade who has secured the services of Frankie Dettori, and just like at Royal Ascot they will team up with Commonwealth Cup scorer Advertise.
Second in this race in 2017 with Aclaim, before then going on to win the ‘Forêt’, Meade will be hoping for a similar return from Advertise, the dual Group 1 winner looks like he will once again start as the ‘big-race favourite’.
The British charge doesn’t stop there, and providing the slight step up in trip poses no problems, James Tate expects stable-star Invincible Army not to be too far from the mark.
“Obviously we have never tried this distance, we are going up an extra 100 metres so hopefully that shouldn’t be a problem. Invincible Army flew over well and everything has gone smoothly, it was only a half hour flight so we weren’t too worried about that, he is in super form,” said Tate.
Tate suggested that a flatter track may benefit the colt in his bid to land a first Group 1, having flopped on two previous attempts at this level, both at Royal Ascot.
“ Both those Group 1’s were at Ascot, which we know isn’t for every horse, and I wonder if maybe Ascot as a track just isn’t for him. His very best form seems to be on flat tracks, which Deauville is, and this is one of the main reasons that we are going there. His best runs have been at Haydock, Newbury, York and Newcastle, they are all flat, non-undulating tracks very similar to Deauville,” added Tate.