We’re back off to Chantilly today where a ten-race card is headlined by the Group 3 Bertrand du Breuil Longines Stakes at 11:01am live on Sky Sports Racing.
This looks like a white-hot renewal and brings together a bunch of prolific winners representing different strands of form.
Well-established class acts such as Group 2 winner Plumatic and Group 1 placed Anodor face a poss of late-maturing progressing types, and our trader Johnathan Priddey has gone through the field in his runner-by-runner guide.
Arguably the most progressive horse in the whole of Europe in 2019, this late-maturing type ran riot with eight wins last year.
Starting in provincial all-weather conditions races and eventually winning his way through Listed, Group 3 and Group 2 tests, Skalleti was unstoppable for his young trainer Jerome Reynier.
His biggest win was a last gasp success in the Group 2 Prix Dollar on Arc weekend, snaking through a tight spot up the rail and seeing off UK raiders Mountain Angel and Line Of Duty.
While the scene for top level milers was perhaps a little weak in 2019, Skalleti always seemed to save something for himself in his run of cosy wins and looked well worth trying at G1 level in 2020.
Race fitness may be an issue first time up against some of the bigger operations here and a 5lb penalty will make his task even tougher. Win or lose – take heart from a big showing and remember his name in those French Group 1s later in the season.
SILVER QUARTZ (R Thomas/F-H Graffard)
Francis-Henri Graffard was the go-to French trainer with a glut of winners before the lockdown and his pace has barely slowed at all since racing restarted. Graffard produced exciting young sprinter Wooded to run away with the Group 3 Prix Tenanita at Chantilly last week.
His Silver Quartz looks outclassed on paper here but perhaps fitness and yard form can sneak him into the frame.
A smart handicapper and borderline Listed class performer when trained in the UK by Hugo Palmer and Archie Watson, Graffard reprogrammed the son of Frankel to win a pair of all-weather conditions races back in January.
Though there are faint echoes of Graffard’s stable star The Revenant in this horse (both ex-UK and owned by Al Asayl Bloodstock), surely connections would be thrilled with a place here.
PRETREVILLE (C Demuro/P Bary)
Without quite hitting the heights of Skalleti (not that he was asked to), Pretreville was a highly progressive miler in his own right last year. Indeed, Pretreville took many of the same scalps – seeing off useful pair Young Fire and Buthela just as easily as Skalleti had.
Pretreville wrapped up his season in September with an assertive breakthrough win in a Listed race at Craon. He has since switched from the stable of Jean-Claude Rouget to that of Pascal Bary, with his new handler up and running well with two winners from six runners in the last week.
Expect Pretreville to be ready for an acid test that could shape his season.
ANODOR (A Lemaitre/F Head)
Things haven’t quite panned out for the horse who was sent off 4/5f for the 2018 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere. Only third there and only seen three times last term, Anodor is on a retrieval mission in 2020.
Things looked bleak indeed last year as Anodor laboured to 7th in the French Guineas (without a prep race) and trailed home last wearing a visor in a Chantilly Group 3 in June.
Then gelded and treated for a back problem, he showed some of the old sparkle when making all the running to win a conditions race at Longchamp. Though perhaps there were excuses for his failures last year, it feels likely that Freddy Head will tiptoe along slowly with this fragile sort.
Traditionally one of the slower-starters before hitting form around the time of the first Classics, Head has drawn a total blank with his 11 runners since racing resumed.
IMPULSIF (V Cheminaud/A Fabre)
Impulsif seems a fairly ironic name for a horse whose connections seem quite careful in placing him well within his limits. Godolphin’s five-year-old picked off a fairly weak Group 3 at Deauville last July but came up well short behind The Revenant in the Group 2 Prix Daniel Wildenstein.
Retreating to a lower grade for his seasonal return in March, he was readily outpaced by Silver Quartz having enjoyed the run of a Chantilly conditions race.
With Mickael Barzalona choosing to ride Nature’s Colours for the same connections and his form easy to pick apart, it should be safe to look elsewhere.
NATURE’S COLOURS (M Barzalona/A Fabre)
A lightly-raced four-year-old, Nature’s Colours arrives with three wins from four career starts. Kept away from the bright lights of the big tracks with his initial wins at Lyon and Compiegne, he looked useful when sweeping down the outside to win a Listed race at Deauville in March.
His fitness will therefore be ahead of most and Barzalona’s confidence in choosing him over a proven Group 3 winner is a further boost. Admittedly he hasn’t beaten much to date, but it may pay to read between the lines.
STUNNING SPIRIT (T Bachelot/F Rossi)
Dependable and consistent two-time Listed winner though he is, Stunning Spirit is essentially exposed and should find a few too good for him at this level.
Skalleti took his measure in a Group 3 at Deauville last year and he typically came up short whenever bumping into a genuine Group performer.
LUCKY TEAM (A Roussel/J Boisnard)
The oldest horse in the field, Lucky Team is another solid yardstick but ought to be left behind in this grade.
His finest hour came when producing a 40/1 shock in the 2018 All-Weather Mile Championships at Lingfield, but Listed level and even ordinary conditions races have generally been too much for him ever since.
PLUMATIC (C Soumillon/F-H Graffard)
Plumatic makes his debut for Francis-Henri Graffard here. Previously trained by Andre Fabre, he was always highly-tried – even contesting the 2017 Arc – before being reinvented as a genuine miler.
He took to the trip well with a Group 3 win in 2018, 4th in the 2018 Prix du Moulin and a 33/1 success in a Saint-Cloud Group 2 last May.
Setbacks later interrupted with Plumatic only seen twice in 2019, though he signed off with a fine 3rd conceding weight and first run to William Haggas’ Miss O’Connor when last seen.
We’re on safe ground with Graffard’s stable first time out and this is a class act who deserves to be shorter than some of the unproven up-and-comers.
With bigger targets awaiting and a hefty 5lb penalty to give away on his first start back, Skalleti looks vulnerable.
The red hot Francis-Henri Graffard could continue his flying start with his new recruit PLUMATIC. Pretreville looks the most attractive each-way option.
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication.