Impressive French 1000 Guineas winner Blue Rose Cen has the chance to double her Classic haul when she steps up in trip for the Prix de Diane Longines at Chantilly on Sunday.
Christopher Head’s stable star has carried all before her since embarking on a four-race winning run in September, and having added the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches to the Prix Marcel Boussac she won at two, she will now bid to join a select band of fillies that includes Zarkava, Divine Proportions and Allez France to have those two contests plus the Prix de Diane on their CV.
If the daughter of Churchill does succeed in this 10 furlong assignment she will also become the first filly since Jean-Claude Rouget’s La Cressonniere in 2016 to do the French Guineas/Oaks double and although at the early stages of his training career, Head believes he could find it difficult to train another horse as talented as Blue Rose Cen.
“I’m very happy with Blue Rose Cen,” said Head. “So far she has faced plenty of challenges and has enjoyed plenty of success over the mile distance.
“We can’t wait to see how she is going to step up and show a little bit of staying capacity over 2,100 metres. It’s always hard to tell until they encounter that distance in a race, but she is straightforward and capable of waiting so she has the right profile and has a turn of foot for the straight.
“She’s a very special filly for us. She was the first Group One winner for us and of course she will be the reference point for us to compare against for the rest of my time training.”
Chasing home Blue Rose Cen in the Pouliches was Christophe Ferland’s Lindy, with connections optimistic of reversing the form now tackling an extra two furlongs which they believe will suit their charge.
“She could have run in the Saint-Alary, but she has the potential to run over a mile and a longer trip, while horses that run in the Saint-Alary generally don’t have the potential to run over a mile,” explained Ferland.
“She is capable of both and was very competitive and now we head to the Diane hopeful because the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches has often been a very good springboard for the race in the past.”
The main protagonists from the Prix Saint-Alary will also lock horns once again with the winner Jannah Rose representing Carlos Laffon-Parias and Jean Dubois’ runner-up Elusive Princess supplemented into the contest.
Christophe Soumillon rode Jannah Rose with supreme confidence, and Laffon-Parias sees the Group One winner as having the right credentials to make her mark in Classic company.
He said: “We hesitated until the last moment before making the decision to run in the Prix Saint-Alary (instead of the French Guineas) and I admit that was because really it looked the slightly easier race with lots of pace which is what she likes. Christophe rode her with a lot of confidence and in the end she did what we asked of her.
“She came out of the race well and it was five weeks ago which is ideal. She didn’t have a tough race and she has had some time off. She has since produced three workouts and to be honest she has done very well. She is a filly who can do anything, she is easy to handle.
“What Jannah Rose did in her first race this year was really impressive. I don’t often have horses that can come out that early in the year and do that.
“Normally I wouldn’t necessarily run her in a Group Three, but she was ready and I wanted her to have a run with other races in mind. We have seen that having experience is important, we saw that in the Prix du Jockey Club and I think the two runs she has had this year have really served her well.
Laffon-Parias, who trains in the French racing hub of Chantilly and will be seeking big-race success at his local track, will also be represented by Left Sea who makes a quick return having landed the Prix Melisande last weekend.
He continued: “I have to admit I did have some doubts after the Saint-Alary that the trip was a bit too long for her. But those who were at the front in the race all faltered in the final furlong.
“I was a bit disappointed with that run and don’t really have an explanation. We did all the tests afterwards and they came back good and obviously she has since won. Being honest she didn’t beat the same level of horses that would have run in the Saint-Alary but it was the way she won that encouraged me.”
“Sometimes having just a week in between races is not too bad.”
Meanwhile, the famous colours of Ballymore Thoroughbreds could be carried to success by the unbeaten and potentially very smart Pensee Du Jour, who bids to give Andre Fabre his fifth win in the contest.
“I was impressed with her last run but I would like her this time to get a lead so she doesn’t have to do all the work on the front end,” said Anthony Stroud, racing manager for Ballymore.
“She’s by Camelot and she’s from the Peintre Celebre family which is excellent and they are progressive. Fingers crossed she will run a very good race.
“I have the highest regard for the opposition and I think it is a very strong race with Running Lion and Blue Rose Cen, I think it’s going to be incredibly competitive.”