Almanzor (light blue): finished down the field at Saint-Cloud last season
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Preview: France, Sunday 1.35pm GMT (ATR)
Saint-Cloud: Criterium International (Group 1) 7f, 2yo colts fillies
FEW who saw Johannes Vermeer defeat Stormy Antarctic in this race 12 months ago would have guessed the horse back in seventh would provide two of the defining performances of 2016.
That horse was Almanzor and in this, the second year the International has been run at a reduced trip of seven furlongs, future crack milers are more likely to be in evidence than middle-distance stars.
Thunder Snow finished two lengths adrift of Churchill in the Dewhurst having previously gone down by a head to future Racing Post Trophy winner Rivet at Doncaster.
Saeed Bin Suroor continues with his libertarian streak of booking the best jockey available in securing the services of Christophe Soumillon for the consistent son of Helmet.
South Seas finished two and a quarter lengths behind Thunder Snow in the Dewhurst but was not given a hard time once beaten and is likely to be happier on a return to the forecast going of between good to soft and soft.
David Smaga has never hidden his faith in Mate Story and was fully vindicated when he scored here over course and distance in the Group 3 Prix Thomas Bryon.
Promise To Be True looked to get briefly outpaced before rallying strongly to go down by three-quarters of a length to Wuheida in the Prix Marcel Boussac.
It remains to be seen whether a return to seven furlongs will be an advantage but, along with a fifth-placed effort in the Moyglare Stud Stakes, that is arguably the strongest Group 1 form on offer, while it should be noted Aidan O’Brien relies on Promise To Be True from an original entry of eight.
Philippe Sogorb felt that Boos might have been disadvantaged in racing away from the fast-finishing Sans Equivoque when beaten a head in the Criterium de Maisons-Laffitte and she could prove a threat if Cristian Demuro can preserve her stamina on her first try at further than six furlongs.
What They Say
David Smaga, trainer of Mate Story
He’s only ever run one bad run, was when he was sick at Deauville. Since then he did exactly what was asked of him in the Prix la Rochette, when he needed the run, before winning easily, and I think he’s very good. Horses by Makfi tend to go on soft ground so that shouldn’t be a problem.
Charlie Appleby, trainer of Bay Of Poets
Bay Of Poets has been travelling well into his races but failing to finish off. Dropping back to seven furlongs will suit him and the ground shouldn’t be an inconvenience.
Saeed Bin Suroor, trainer of Thunder Snow
Thunder Snow is a tough horse and very genuine. He’s finished second in a pair of Group 2 races and ran well at his most recent start when stepping up to Group 1. The trip is ideal and I expect him to run well.
Criquette Head-Maarek, trainer of Tresorier
He won at Maisons-Laffitte and has done extremely well since.
Philippe Sogorb, trainer of Capchop and Boos
Capchop hasn’t reached the level of Boos on the track but they’re of similar quality in the mornings. He had a minor problem over the summer so had a proper break then and ran well on his comeback. Boos has taken her racing well and is very strong mentally. Having only just gone down narrowly at Group 2 level, we think this is worth a try and, although she has a lot of speed, she gives the impression in her races she’ll stay further.
Andrew Balding, trainer of South Seas
I was a little bit disappointed with his Dewhurst run but it was a top race and he just came up short. He handles soft ground well so the going should be no issue. He seems in fine form and will hopefully be competitive.
Aidan O’Brien, trainer of Promise To Be True
She’s in good form and comes back to seven furlongs again. We think she should be okay at the trip but obviously we know that she gets further.
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