Inspiral returns to Deauville in search of back-to-back Prix du Haras de Fresnay-le-Buffard Jacques le Marois victories on Sunday.
John and Thady Gosden’s four-year-old bounced back from Falmouth Stakes disappointment to add the French Group One to her CV last season and is on a similar recovery mission this time around having got bogged down in testing conditions when faced with the almighty task of toppling Paddington in the Sussex Stakes.
Despite only an 11-day turnaround from Goodwood, connections have been encouraged by reports of drying ground on the Normandy coast and are happy to give the Cheveley Park Stud-owned filly the go-ahead for the defence of her title.
“Goodwood was a sort of disappointment having been the target, but with the ground conditions she just didn’t relish that at all,” said Chris Richardson, managing director of Cheveley Park Stud.
“Frankie (Dettori) made his move to come to the rail and his injection of pick-up was short lived in those conditions.
“Conditions in France look to have dried up. There is a chance of a few showers, but John and Thady Gosden were happy with her after her race at Goodwood and Mrs Thompson is happy to let her go back to France for another chance at the Jacques le Marois.
“Her finest hour after Royal Ascot came there last year.”
Inspiral has often been seen at her best when kept fresh, but there appears to be few concerns about the quick return to action, with the unseasonably wet summer highlighting the importance of taking opportunities both when they arise and when conditions appear most suitable.
“I think John and Thady were happy with the fact Frankie was kind to her once her chance was gone at Goodwood,” added Richardson.
“Of course there is always a slight concern (about the quick turnaround), but we know she’s talented, she’s only had two races this year and they tell me she’s in a good place.
“There should be plenty of pace and we will let the filly do the talking. It will be nice to see her back out again and we just don’t know how the autumn is going to unfold.
“Going forward you have races like the Matron Stakes and others to consider, but you just don’t know what conditions are going to be. She was kept in training to race on and that’s where we are at this point.”
Inspiral began her season by finishing a neck second to Triple Time in the Queen Anne Stakes and the Royal Ascot champion is reported to be in good order by Kevin Ryan ahead of the rematch on French soil.
He said: “Triple Time has had a nice bit of time between Ascot and now.
“We’ve had a lovely clear run with him. He’s working nicely and we’re delighted with him going into the race.”
Triple Time is joined in the line-up by stablemate Hi Royal who placed in both the 2000 Guineas and Irish equivalent earlier in the season and now returns to a mile with cheekpieces added having disappointed over seven furlongs in the Prix Jean Prat.
“The race didn’t pan out for him the last day,” added Ryan.
“He missed the break and when cutting back to seven furlongs he couldn’t afford to do that.
“He’s back up to a mile and I’m very happy with him going into the race.”
Hi Royal is owned by Jaber Abdullah and Philip Robinson, assistant racing manager for the owner, is also hoping the Kodiac colt can bounce back to his best.
He said: “To have a realistic good chance Hi Royal will have to find his form from the Irish Guineas when he was just over two and a half lengths behind Paddington.
“You just have to forgive him his last run and they are always allowed to throw the odd bad one in.
“If you totally forget that then he is a proper Group One horse and you keep your fingers crossed he will have a chance.”
The final UK-trained raider is Light Infantry who will attempt to go one better than when a neck second to Inspiral 12 months ago.
He was last seen finishing a keeping-on third in the Queen Anne and trainer David Simcock is full of admiration for his consistent Group One performer.
“He’s never done a lot wrong and circumstances haven’t seemed to work out each time,” explained the Trillium Place handler.
“But he’s a model of consistency and has run at the top level a lot of the time and we’ve always been pleased with him.
“It looks a warm event and probably a tougher race than last year if anything. He’s got a bit to find but he goes there in good order and we’ll be hopeful.”
There is a strong challenge from the home team headed by Christopher Head’s Big Rock who found just star middle-distance colt Ace Impact too good in the Prix du Jockey Club, while a few lengths further back in third at Chantilly was Marhaba Ya Sanafi.
Like Hi Royal, Marhaba Ya Sanafi is owned by Jaber Abdullah and now returns to the distance he scooped Classic honours earlier in the campaign when landing the Poule d’Essai des Poulains.
Robinson added: “He’s got form over a mile, but I think the French Derby is his better form. He’s obviously got a bit to find with Big Rock on that run. These races you have to be in them to win them, but it is going to be very tough.
“Big Rock I think has a great chance and if Inspiral comes back to her best she must have a great chance as well. Triple Time also looked impressive at Ascot and if he finds that form to the table he will be in with a shout as well.
“This race brings out all the top horses, but our two are there and will have some kind of shout if at the top of their game. I think they will both run good races and won’t be far away, but they are going to have to find a little bit better and improve a bit to win.”
Last year’s Grand Prix de Paris winner Onesto races over a mile for the first time in over a year as he makes a belated seasonal reappearance, with his trainer Fabrice Chappet also represented by impressive Prix Jean Prat scorer Good Guess.
Andre Fabre’s Life In Motion brings Group One course and distance form to the table having been narrowly denied in the Prix Rothschild, while Jean-Claude Rouget’s Erevann and Mario Baratti’s German 2000 Guineas winner Angers add extra spice to a red-hot contest.