France: Highland faces test of Derby profile in Guineas

Highland Reel

Highland Reel: Derby hope is having his first run of the season

  PICTURE: Mark Cranham (  

Preview: France, Sunday (2.08pm BST)

Longchamp: Poule d’Essai des Poulains (Group 1) 1m, 3yo colts

COOLMORE will be hoping that Investec Derby hope Highland Reel (Aidan O’Brien/Ryan Moore) can avoid the fate of stablemates John F Kennedy, Ol’ Man River and Sir Isaac Newton, all of whom vacated the upper reaches of the Epsom betting when performing below expectations this season.

The son of Galileo was last seen when impressing in the Vintage Stakes at Goodwood last July, and is the choice of Ryan Moore over stablemate War Envoy (Colm O’Donoghue).

Muhaarar (Charlie Hills/Paul Hanagan) has been kept specifically for the French equivalent of the 2,000 Guineas after readily landing the Greenham Stakes but trainer Charlie Hills’ reward is a nightmare draw in stall 18.

The Andre Fabre-trained Territories would have been a warm favourite for this on the basis of his defeat of Karar and The Comissioner in what is so often a key trial, the Prix de Fontainebleau.

Godolphin’s son of Invincible Spirit was rerouted to the Newmarket Guineas, in which he finished a clear second behind Gleneagles, but Fabre still has two extremely able understudies in Make Believe (Olivier Peslier) and New Bay (Vincent Cheminaud).

Francis Graffard said after the Fontainebleau that Karar (Frankie Dettori) was beaten by a better horse on the day but added he hoped that wouldn’t always the case, encouraging the colt’s owners Al Shaqab to supplement.

Al Shaqab’s Sheikh Joaan, this week elected to the presidency of Qatar’s Olympic Committee, will be represented by a second runner here in the shape of the Richard Hannon-trained Smaih (Pierre-Charles Boudot).

Kevin Ryan, who won the French Derby with The Grey Gatsby, aims for a second French Classic with Flaming Spear (Andrea Atzeni), while dual-Listed winner Mr Owen (Francois Rohaut/Francois-Xavier Bertras) has impressed in the provinces for owner Mathieu Offenstadt, whose colours are most famously associated with 2,000 Guineas hero Makfi.

What they say
Andre Fabre, trainer of New Bay and Make Believe
His performance last time was a bit flattered by the weight allowance but he is a nice colt and the ground will suit him. The distance might be a bit short as he think he is more of a mile and a quarter horse. The result at Newmarket showed I was right [not to run Make Believe there]. He has been aimed at this race, he is well drawn and he will run well.

Francis Graffard, trainer of Karar and Cornwallville
Karar has come on for his last run and is a horse who gains in strength after each run. Neither is drawn well which is especially a problem for Cornwallville, who has a place chance but for whom 1,600 metres [a mile] is probably the limit. Karar will have to put up with his draw and we will see how the race unfolds.

Aidan O’Brien, trainer of Highland Reel and War Envoy
We’re very pleased with Highland Reel and have had this race in mind for some time for his first run of the season. He’s got quite a good draw [seven]. He showed plenty of ability last year and we’re hoping for a good run. If he runs well there will be plenty of options for him. War Envoy has plenty of experience but has never shown on the track the sort of ability he shows at home. We’re letting him take his chance and he has a good draw [two].

Pascal Bary, trainer of Tale Of Life
He is very well and has improved a lot for his comeback but, he has a very bad draw.

Pia Brandt, trainer of Hawke and Borzakov
Hawke got in a real fight last time and had a hard race. He has come out of it well and he has very nice turn of foot. The Poule has always been the target and he is improving all the time. Borsakov was only just beaten for second last time and the two that beat him are running in the Poule. He kept a little bit for himself that day and if he puts it all in he is definitely better than he showed on his comeback.

Kevin Ryan, trainer of Flaming Spear
He is in great form and will appreciate the bit of cut in the ground over here. I’m very happy with him coming into the race.


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