On Sunday Deauville plays host to one of the most exciting mile contests of the season, the Prix Jacques Le Marois.
Undoubtedly, this is a race that helps to define Europe’s Champion Miler for the year and has a roll of honour of the highest standard, including since 1972: Lyphard, Nonoalco, Flying Water, Irish River, Lear Fan, Mieaque, Polish Precedent, Hector Protector, Sayyedati, Spinning World, Dubai Millennium, Banks Hill, Six Perfections, Dubawi, Manduro, Goldikova, Makfi, Kingman and Esoterique.
The Carina Fey trained 7 year old Grand Vintage heads the field but looks hopelessly out of his depth here. After struggling in handicaps, he landed such a contest at Saint-Cloud in early May by a neck from Xotic. Towards the end of that month he contested a heavy ground Listed race at Maisons-Laffitte, finishing 2 ¼ lengths fifth of 10 to A Shin Erwin.
Vadamos began this year with a fine effort at Chantilly in March, when he finished 1 ½ lengths second to the mighty Solow. He then flopped badly in the Dubai World Cup towards the end of that month, finishing a tailed off 11th of 12 to California Chrome. Just over a month later, the Andre Fabre trained 5 year old was back to winning ways, beating Ervedya by 3 ½ lengths in the Group 2 Prix du Muguet at Saint-Cloud over a mile. Back up to 10 furlongs, he was a well beaten 12 ½ lengths fourth of 9 behind A Shin Hikari in heavy ground in the Group 1 Prix d’Ispahan at Chantilly in late May. Vadamos again came back to form over a mile on his latest start, beating Mr Owen by 3 lengths in the Group 3 Prix Messidor at Maisons-Laffitte in mid-July.
Arod is a fascinating runner who reverts to a mile having finished second in last year’s Sussex Stakes. He served notice on his talent over a mile, when a close third to Night Of Thunder in last year’s Group 1 Lockinge Stakes. The Peter Chapple-Hyam 5 year old was beaten just a length that day and confirmed that run to be solid form as he landed this race by 2 lengths from Custom Cut in early June. Arod continued his progression in July when landing the Group 2 Summer Mile Stakes with a classy performance, defeating Lightning Spear by 1 ½ lengths at Ascot. At the end of that month he ran a belter in the Group 1 Sussex Stakes, finishing ½ a length second of 8 to Solow. Arod then headed to Australia for two disappointing starts last autumn. He returned to action and appeared to need the run when finishing 2 lengths third of 8 to GM Hopkins in a Listed race at Ascot in late April. He has missed a number of engagements over a mile since then due to rain-softened ground and eventually reappeared in the Group 1 July Cup over 6 furlongs at Newmarket, where he failed to get competitive and dropped away from halfway, eventually being eased down.
Lightning Spear proved a most progressive horse last year and makes his seasonal debut here, as well as his debut for David Simcock. The 5 year old son of Pivotal has been anything but straight forward to train and his victories have been spaced out, with one in 2013, one in 2014 and a ½ length success over Sacred Act at Lingfield Park in late April of last year, when he was trained by Olly Stevens. In late June he headed to Salisbury and landed a handicap by 2 lengths from Saigon City. He then stepped up into Group 2 company for the Summer Mile at Ascot in early July, finishing 1 ½ lengths second of 6 to Arod. That performance – and the subsequent brilliant run of Arod in the Sussex Stakes, saw connections decide to have a crack at the French Group 1 at Deauville in August. In the event, he ran a belter to finish 3 lengths fourth of 9 to Esoterique, looking every bit at home in Group 1 competition. The following month he was somewhat disappointing when 3 ¼ lengths third of 5 to Custom Cut in a Leopardstown Group 3 and he disappointed on his final start of the year when unplaced. He made a fantastic return to action in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot last month, finishing 1 ¾ lengths third of 13 to Tepin and was far from disgraced in the Group 1 Sussex Stakes at Goodwood in late July, coming home 4 ½ lengths 6th of 10 to The Gurkha.
Ervedya was a champion 2 year old and consolidated her status last year with victories in the French 1,000 Guineas and the Group 1 Coronation Stakes at this meeting, where she got the best of a thrilling three-way fight to beat Found and Lucida by a neck. The Alain De Royer-Dupre trained 4 year old was 1 ¼ lengths second to an on-song Amazing Maria in the Group 1 Prix Rothschild at Deauville in August, but the following month was back to winning ways when defeating Akatea by a length in the Group 1 Prix du Moulin at Longchamp. She returned in the Group 2 Prix du Muguet at Saint-Cloud in early May, finishing a slightly rusty 3 ½ lengths second of 11 to Vadamos. The following month she lined up in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot, but ran a slightly disappointing 4 ¼ lengths fifth of 13 behind Tepin.
European Mile Division was dominated by French horses last year, with multiple Group 1 winning mare Esoterique very much to the fore. Andre Fabre’s 6 year old was beaten a length by Solow in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot and was at the height of her powers when landing the Group 1 Prix Jacques Le Marois by 1 ½ lengths from Territories in August. She followed-up with a ½ a length defeat of Integral in the Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket in early October but then disappointed in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Mile, finishing 6 ½ lengths 7th to Tepin at Keeneland. In December she ran a decent race when 2 lengths fourth to Maurice in the Group 1 Hong Kong Mile at Sha Tin and ran a decent race on her return in early June, when she was 2 lengths second of 5 to Attendu in a Deauville Group 3. However, she ran last of 13 to Tepin in the latest renewal of the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes later that month and was 4 lengths fourth of 10 to Qemah in the Group 1 Prix Rothschild at Deauville in late July.
Hugo Palmer fields the QIPCO 2,000 Guineas winner Galileo Gold, who made such a bold impression with his Newmarket Classic success and bids to emulate Gleneagles as a dual Guineas winner. After running 2 ¾ lengths second of 8 to Age Of Empire in a York maiden at the end of May, he got off the mark early the next month, when beating Zeeoneandonly by 2 ¾ lengths at Salisbury. Galileo Gold followed-up with a 1 ¼ lengths defeat of Hayadh in a novice contest at Haydock Park in early July on his first start over 7 furlongs. Towards the end of that month, he improved again to win the Group 2 Vintage Stakes at Goodwood, beating the useful Ibn Malik by ¾ of a length. He was not seen out again until contesting the Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at Longchamp, in early October. He ran a cracker in the event to finish 1 ¼ lengths third of 11 to Ultra. There was plenty of deliberation over whether Galileo Gold would run in the Newmarket Classic but rain in the build-up aided his participation and in the event he ran out an impressive 1 ½ lengths winner from Massaat. The following month Galileo Gold made his bid for a Guineas double in Ireland, but the combination of slightly softer than preferred and tactics, contrived to gift Awtaad with first run and he was much too good to be afforded that advantage, with the Palmer colt coming home 2 ½ lengths second of 8. A bold ride by Frankie Dettori saw Galileo Gold gain first run and revenge in the Group 1 St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, as he beat The Gurkha by 1 ¼ lengths with Awtaad back in third. The three Guineas winners met again in the Group 1 Sussex Stakes at Goodwood in late July, with Galileo Gold setting the fractions but headed by The Gurkha in the final furlong, eventually finishing ¼ of a length second of 10. He has reportedly worked brilliantly at home since.
The imposing Ribchester looked a colt with the scope to do better at three, but was still good enough to make a significant mark last year. The Richard Fahey trained son of Iffraaj was second on debut before running 1 ¼ lengths second of 8 to Ajaya in the Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes at York last August. He got off the mark when landing the Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes by 1 ¼ lengths from Log Out Island at Newbury last September. Ribchester returned to action in the Group 3 Prix Djebel, run in heavy ground at Maisons-Laffitte in early April. He finished second to Cheikeljack, but shied-away from the whip repeatedly in the latter stages and caused interference and was disqualified. He shaped as though needing the run and whilst disregarded by many, ran a huge race in the QIPCO 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket, finishing 3 ½ lengths third of 13 to Galileo Gold. In June he dropped down to 7 furlongs for the Group 3 Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot, putting up a sparkling performance to beat Thikriyaat by 2 ¼ lengths. He then confirmed himself a colt of the highest class in the Group 1 Sussex Stakes, making significant inroads late on to finish a diminishing ½ a length third of 10 to The Gurkha.
Dicton has proved a greatly improved horse this year and is an intriguing runner. The son of Lawman ran dismally in his first three races last year, but then landed back to back victories at Saint-Cloud in October, before finishing a short neck second to Equilady in a handicap in November. He has not looked back since then and that was his last defeat in a run which has seen him win six of his last seven starts. Having beaten Barwod by a short neck in a Listed race at Saint-Cloud in March, he progressed again to land the Group 3 Prix de Fontainebleau by a neck from Taareef at Chantilly in late April. The following month he was supplemented for the Group 1 Poule d’Essai des Poulains (French 2,000 Guineas), running well to finish 5 ½ lengths third of 13 to the impressive The Gurkha. In early June he was supplemented for the Group 1 Prix du Jockey Club and again gave a good account of himself to finish 3 ¼ lengths third of 16 behind Almanzor. He has had a nice break since then and drops back to a mile now.
Stormy Antarctic returns to France where he arguably ran his best race to date. The Ed Walker trained son of Stormy Atlantic looked most progressive last term, landing the prestigious Haynes, Hanson and Clark Stakes at Newbury in September. He was a length third of 15 to Flying Empress on debut at Windsor in late June and the following month filled the same spot when 2 ¼ lengths third of 7 to Madrinho in an Ascot maiden. He got off the mark at Sandown Park in August, with a 2 ¼ lengths defeat of Lovell. Further improvement came at Newbury as the son of Stormy Atlantic stayed on stoutly to beat Special Season by 1 ½ lengths at Newbury. In November he headed to France for the Group 1 Criterium International in very soft ground at Saint-Cloud, running an excellent race to finish a head second of 8 to Johannes Vermeer. He returned to action in a very stormy Craven Stakes, run in torrential rain, staying on well out of The Dip to beat Foundation by an impressive 3 ½ lengths. That seemed to give him a leading chance in the Group 1 QIPCO 2,000 Guineas back on the Rowley Mile in late April, but in the event he disappointed, coming home 14 lengths 11th of 13 to Galileo Gold. He had a lengthy break after that effort and was not seen out until the Group 1 Prix Jean Prat at Chantilly in early July, finishing 2 lengths second of 9 to the exciting Zelzal.
The German trained filly Spectre has already made her mark this spring. The Markus Munch trained daughter of Siyouni was fourth on debut last year, before landing a minor contest at Strasbourg in September. Her juvenile campaign rounded off when she finished a length second of 6 to Magnolea in a conditions race at Saint-Cloud in October. However, she sprang a real surprise when landing the Group 3 Prix Imprudence on heavy ground at Maisons-Laffitte in early April, beating Midweek by ¾ of a length. She then headed to the Group 1 Poule d’Esai des Pouliches at Deauville in mid-May, coming home a respectable 2 lengths fifth of 14 to La Cressonniere. She then took on the colts in the Group 1 Prix Jean Prat at Chantilly in early July, running 2 ¼ lengths third of 9 to Zelzal.