Ploughing on strongly through the rain-softened Deauville ground, Esoterique claimed some lofty scalps in taking the Prix Jacques Le Marois on Sunday.
The five-year-old’s victory saw her odds for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on Champions Day cut from 12/1 into 6/1.
However, word from her trainer Andre Fabre was that a crack at the Prix Du Moulin, followed by the Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket would precede either a trip to Japan or the USA, not Ascot.
Should the master French trainer have a change of heart, you would have to expect the mare to go close, especially with ground conditions likely to be in her favour.
While her handler was expected to take the race last weekend, it was with Territories that many thought he would strike.
The participation of the 2000 Guineas runner-up was in doubt with the ground deemed to be far softer than he would have liked.
Fabre allowed his colt to take his chance, and while running admirably in second, could not get to his elder stable-mate, despite receiving 2lbs in weight.
He could be the more likely inmate of Fabre’s Chantilly stable to line up in Berkshire (currently as a 6/1 chance) on October 17, but with the last three runnings of the contest coming on either soft or heavy going, how he will fare is open to debate.
Further down the field there was more market movement with fourth placed Lightning Spear clipped in from 25/1 to 16/1 for the QEII.
But he too looks set to be off to the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland in search of better ground and arguably, more prestige.
Toormore was third in the Ascot contest last year, after a campaign that he didn’t really fire, but after finishing a respectable 3½l back in fifth, could go better this time round.
He was pushed out from 14/1 to 16/1 for the mile Group 1, but with many of the horses above him in the market likely to head elsewhere, could he be the antepost each-way value?
While the former looks extremely short at this point, the latter, if claiming the scalp of Golden Horn at York on Wednesday could stay at the 10f trip in the Champion Stakes and bypass the QEII altogether.
Such decision could well see the market for the mile contest open up once again, and some big priced chances making the frame in three months time.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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