The clash between Arc heroine Treve and the irrepressible Cirrus Des Aigles takes top billing on a super Sunday of international racing action.
The Group 1 Prix Ganay at Longchamp sees the first racecourse appearance of Criquette Head-Maarek’s unbeaten superstar filly, since she demolished her rivals in the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe last October.
Reported to have worked well at home, this is the first step towards retaining her title – something no horse has successfully accomplished since Alleged in 1978. It is also a big opportunity for Frankie Dettori, who rode the filly to victory in the Prix Vermeille before his ankle injury ruled him out of the Arc.
There will be plenty of attention on Cirrus Des Aigles although the 8 year old perhaps saves his best performances for the soft ground autumn races. He certainly excellent in last year’s Prix Dollar before going down by only ¼ of a length to Farhh in the Champion Stakes at Ascot. He looked like he needed the race when fourth to Now We Can at Chantilly in early March but ran a fantastic race to finish second to Gentildonna in the Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan. Now he meets another outstanding filly.
On the form book Joshua Tree has a lot to find with the leading principals here. He was well beaten in the Arc by Treve before landing the Canadian International at Woodbine. However, his recent runs in Tokyo and Meydan suggest he is not in that vein of form at present.
Racing in the Niarchos colours, the 5 year old Smoking Sun has looked an improved character of late. He was fifth in the Prix Dollar and on that form has to find more – however having landed a Listed contest in December, he beat the progressive Norse King in the Prix d’Harcourt at the beginning of April and cannot be fully discounted here.
That was a first defeat in five starts for Norse King who has progressed from conditions races to Listed, to Group 2 success in last year’s Prix du Conseil de Paris. He won the Group 3 Prix Exbury in March before that defeat by Smoking Sun but meets a whole different level of competition with Treve and Cirus Des Aigles.
Triple Threat finished third in the Prix d’Harcourt and strictly speaking needs to improve here. He won the Prix la Force (Group 3) and the Prix Eugene Adam (Group 2) last season but struggled when upped in class, notably in the Prix Niel and Champion Stakes.
Belle De Crecy was good enough to finish second to Seal Of Approval in the Fillies’ and Mares’ Race at the British Champions Day meeting but looks to be running here to ensure a sound gallop for Treve.
Baltic Baroness has won once in seven starts and was well beaten by Treve in the Prix de Diane last June. She finished a close fourth to Smoking Sun in the Prix d’Harcourt and is open to improvement but has a lot to find with the front two in the market.
The Group 3 Prix Vanteaux could throw up some interesting fillies for the summer. Recent maiden winner Privet Hedge heads the line-up and next up comes the Aga Khan’s unbeaten Sea The Stars filly Vazira, who won on debut at Chantilly in March and holds entries for the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Irish Oaks. Crisolles won her first two starts before running second on her return on the Polytrack at Chantilly in March and she won’t lack for fitness.
Momo No Sekku, Kenzadargent and Chocolatier have also all had recent outings.
At Sha Tin, Hong Kong, the feature race is the Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup over 10 furlongs, which sees the return to action of Military Attack. The 6 year old had bounced back to his best when landing the Hong Kong Gold Cup in February but blew out most disappointingly in the Dubai World Cup at Meydan.
His chief rival looks to be the Mike de Kock trained Vercingetorix who ran a mighty race to finish a distant second to the outstanding Just A Way in the Dubai Duty Free, having won all five starts beforehand.
Epiphaneia won the Japanese St Leger last season and made an encouraging return behind the top class Kizuna, while Sanshaawes is another familiar name from the Meydan circuit.