Al Riffa faces a big ask as he heads to Deauville to take on the unbeaten Prix du Jockey Club champion Ace Impact in the Prix Guillaume d’Ornano on Tuesday.
Raiders have won five of the last six renewals of the 10-furlong Group Two contest, however, the last two victories for the home side have been provided by trainer Jean Claude-Rouget and his latest contender will be a warm order to follow in the footsteps of stablemate Al Hakeem, who won this prize en route to finishing fourth in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe 12 months ago.
Ace Impact finds himself favourite for Europe’s richest middle-distance prize on October 1 following his emphatic French Derby triumph earlier this summer and this contest represents a key step on the road to ParisLongchamp for the son of Cracksman.
He will run for the first time in the colours of the Chehboub family’s Gousserie Racing, who purchased 50 per cent of the colt from Serge Stempniak following his Chantilly triumph.
Pauline Chehboub, racing manager for the operation said: “Ace Impact is in good form and should run well tomorrow.
“We are targeting some exciting Group Ones in the autumn, so tomorrow’s race is important.”
However, despite the presence of Ace Impact, Al Riffa’s trainer Joseph O’Brien is undeterred and feels his charge is well placed to run a big race following his comeback second at the Curragh in the International Stakes.
“We’re hoping for a good run,” said O’Brien.
“Obviously it looks a very good race, but he is in good shape and we think he can run a really good race.”
Al Riffa is a Group One winner in his own right having claimed the National Stakes as a two-year-old and is one of three making the trip from Ireland alongside Aidan O’Brien’s Victoria Road and Greenland.
Both Ballydoyle challengers are capable of playing a part, with the former accounting for Blue Rose Cen before scoring at the Breeders’ Cup during a four-race winning streak last season – a record the Saxon Warrior colt will be attempting to extend on his belated seasonal return.
Meanwhile, stablemate Greenland already has winning form in France this term having landed the Prix Greffulhe at Saint-Cloud in May.
Andre Fabre has won this race more times than anyone else and relies on Compiegne Listed winner Birr Castle, while Ponty (Hiroo Shimizu), Cambronne (Rouget) and Andreas Wohler’s German raider Straight complete the line-up.