Today’s racing: Race specialist Head relies on Thawaany

Freddy Head - Newmarket 2009

Freddy Head: trainer says Thawaany will like the ground

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (  

2.08 Deauville

LARC Prix Maurice de Gheest (Group 1) | 6½f, 3yo+

A SEVEN-strong Anglo-Irish challenge must overcome Thawaany, who defends Freddy Head’s enviable record in a race which pits pure sprinters against speedier milers dropping in trip.

Head has landed six of the last eight runnings courtesy of Marchand D’Or and Moonlight Cloud and, given Thawaany’s future entries over a mile, the trainer clearly believes he has another candidate with the requisite versatility.

Gregorian arrives on the back of an excellent third behind the all-conquering Slade Power in the July Cup – a race in which Aljamaaheer finished ninth – having previously denied Garswood over 7f in the Group 3 Criterion Stakes.

Joyeuse has looked more of a force since stepping back in trip following her Guineas bid and Philippe Sogorb believes the distance is perfect for last season’s Cheveley Park heroine Vorda.

Viztoria and Fiesolana have Group 2-winning form over 7f and give Ireland plenty of hope of a first success since 2001.

The course absorbed 56mm of rain between Thursday and Saturday.

Clerk of the course Olivier Louit said: “It is currently very soft and, although the sun is helping, a lot will depend on whether we miss the next band of rain forecast for Sunday morning, which could bring another 4-8mm.”

Mixed results from July Cup
Four winners in the last ten years had contested that season’s July Cup, having finished 5-4-1-5 at Newmarket. Only nine of the 26 horses to run in both registered a better finishing position here (Marchand D’Or landed the double).

Deauville form
Prix Ris-Orangis principals Thawaany and Zejel are the only two among the 15 runners to have won on the turf track here (Sommerabend scored on the all-weather), while Vorda’s second-place finish in last season’s Group 1 Prix Morny could be a pointer to her chances.

What they say
Roger Varian, trainer of Aljamaaheer
He was too free at Newmarket in the July Cup, and if you put a line through that and look at his Diamond Jubilee form he would have a very strong chance. We would have preferred faster ground but he goes there in good form.

Richard Fahey, trainer of Garswood
It’s a very open race and we have a chance. A repeat of his Longchamp run [in last season’s Prix de la Foret] would put him knocking on the door.

John Gosden, trainer of Gregorian
He is doing fine and he ran a brilliant race in the July Cup were he didn’t get the rub of the green. We will have to see what the weather does, but he handles the soft ground and hopefully the trip will suit him well.

Alex Pantall, trainer of Gammarth
He might be a little bit up against it at this level but we’re putting first-time blinkers on and he seems in good form.

Elie Lellouche, trainer of Pinturicchio
If I didn’t run him here then I’d either have to run him in the Prix Quincey under a penalty or else wait until the middle of October. He always runs his race, he goes on soft or even heavy ground and he was fourth here on the straight course last year so I expect him to run well.

David Simcock, trainer of Caspar Netscher
We made our bed last year when trying to stretch him out over seven furlongs or a mile. That didn’t suit him and so we decided to go back sprinting. He had a very minor setback in the spring but he’s been back plenty of time and this looks the ideal starting point.

Freddy Head, trainer of Thawaany
The soft ground won’t bother her and this race has always been her target. We will see where we go with her after Sunday but she is in races like the Matron and the Sun Chariot. She has a lot of speed and 1,600 metres [a mile] might be near the limit.

Willie McCreery, trainer of Fiesolana
I’m looking forward to stepping her back. She won three Group 3s over seven furlongs so the trip should be no problem. She’s a big strong mare who won’t mind the ground at all and she’s been good since Ascot

Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to Khalid Abdullah, owner of Joyeuse
She has a couple of factors in her favour – we know she handles soft and six and a half furlongs is just about her perfect trip. It’s a good race and we’ll see whether she’s good enough.

Philippe Sogorb, trainer of Vorda
She gave away a lot of ground when tripping out of the gate at Longchamp and she came back having not really had a race. Physically she looks more of a finished three-year-old now, she loves a straight track and this is the ideal trip for her.

Downpatrick good
Leicester good
Windsor good, good to soft in places (good in the final six furlongs)

Today’s key pointer
Sir Michael Stoute is 4-7 in handicaps at Leicester since the start of 2012. He saddles Gothic in the 1m2f handicap (3.00)

Pointer courtesy of Raceform Interactive


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