Brave Sussex Stakes runner-up Facteur Cheval will be seeking big-race compensation on home soil in the Prix du Moulin at ParisLongchamp on Sunday.
Jerome Reynier’s ultra-consistent performer is yet to finish outside the first three in four outings this term, beaten less than two lengths on each occasion.
He finished a valiant second to Aidan O’Brien’s Paddington at the Qatar Goodwood Festival, with the four-year-old beaten a length and a half after a less than ideal passage/
Now connections are hoping that mammoth effort on the Sussex Downs has not left a mark as they go in search of an elusive Group One triumph in a race that that also includes Prix du Jockey Club and Jacques le Marois runner-up Big Rock.
“We’re looking forward to it but I’m a little bit nervous because he had a very hard race last time, plus he had a trip,” said Barry Irwin, CEO of Team Valor, who own the horse in partnership with Gary Barber.
“Even though it’s back in four and a half weeks which sounds like a reasonable amount of time, in the back of my mind I’m hoping he doesn’t react to that last race, it certainly knocked out Paddington.
“He is facing a pretty darn good horse in Big Rock. We have a very big, strong horse and Mickael Barzalona is going to get on him this time. We are hopeful for a good race because Big Rock likes to go off in front and we need to have a target. The races where he hasn’t ran quite up to scratch this year are when he got too far behind in a paceless race.”
A bold showing for Facteur Cheval in Paris this weekend could tee up a potential Qipco British Champions Day rematch with his Goodwood conqueror Paddington in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot later in the autumn.
Irwin added: “I’m planning on coming over for the Queen Elizabeth and I see Paddington might run in that one as well, so that would be a hell of a contest.
“Both horses love it soft to heavy and at that time of year you might get a racetrack like that. That will be a good contest and the layout of that straight course at Ascot, going uphill, favours a miler that has got stamina and can go at least another furlong, which we have proved that we can do and it could be a pretty exciting contest.”
Remarkably, Christopher Head’s Big Rock is also seeking his first top-level success and is another to bring some high-class form to the table.
He finished second when sent off favourite for his last two big-race assignments and with connections persevering with the one-mile distance, they will hope to see the Rock Of Gibraltar colt regain a winning thread which saw him string together four impressive victories earlier in the campaign.
Jean-Claude Rouget’s Erevann is without a victory since winning last year’s Prix Daniel Wildenstein, but is a proven Group-level performer and will have the chance to emulate his dam Ervedya who struck gold in this for connections in 2015.
Patrice Cottier’s Sauterne has placed in both the Prix Jean Prat and Prix Rothschild recently following defeat at the hands of Kelina in Chantilly’s Prix de Sandringham at Chantilly prior to that.
Both are well worth their place in the field, with the latter having the chance to add to trainer Carlos Laffon-Parias’ 2018 triumph in the contest.
Andre Fabre is also no stranger to success in this event and will saddle Group One-winning juvenile Belbek, while Yann Barberot’s hat-trick-seeking Fast Raaj and Fabrice Chappet’s Topgear complete the line-up.