Over the past ten years, the Prix Jacques Le Marois has often been the best mile race of the season. While other races may have had Frankel last season, it was this race that had great strength in depth to it, and it is the same at Deauville tomorrow, with no less than 5 of the runners having already won a group 1 race this season.
I’ve been against Dawn Approach in a few of his races this season, mainly because I felt he was proclaimed as a superstar in some quarters, when his achievements didn’t justify it. Before his Royal Ascot defeat of Toronado his immediate victims in his previous 3 group 1 wins were, Designs Of Rome, Leitir Mor and Glory Awaits. Group 3 class horses at best, but more likely just listed class. Even when he beat Toronado at Ascot I felt the second was unlucky, and Mars being close up in third did little for the form. Toronado proved the point to some extent the last day with a victory over Dawn Approach in the Sussex.
The Sussex Stakes was a well run race with the field stretched from some way out. Kevin Manning seemed well aware that his horse isn’t the fastest, and tried to turn it into a test, it worked to some extent as Declaration Of War arrived on his quarters going much better 2 down, but couldn’t keep going as well as him. Toronado was a different story though, and he had enough left to run down Dawn Approach close home. That form is easily the most solid of his career, and a reproduction may well be good enough to win tomorrow. He settled better last time too. which is a plus but he had another hard race and this is a quick return. He may well be tough but he’ll need to be. Another worry for him is he clearly needs a really well run mile race, and if for any reason they don’t go fast enough, he would be very vulnerable to faster horses when they quicken.
Intello won his first three starts, before a fast finishing third in the French 2000 Guineas. He was nowhere near as unlucky as some made out though, yes he was blocked in his run slightly over 2 down, but when he got in the clear he didn’t really pick up, and only found top stride when the others were slowing down in front, which made it look like he was after quickening. He was just staying on and while he may have won with a clear run, it would only have been by a length or so, and a 1l win in that race wouldn’t give him much chance in this one. Since then he’s won the French Derby over 10 1/2 furlongs and a group 3 last time. The French Derby was a very poor race this year, handicappers like Willie The Whipper were flying home in 6th, beaten just over 5l. Intello will need to take quite a step up to win this, and is probably a 10 furlong horse too.
Moonlight Cloud is top notch, but that’s over 6 1/2/7 furlongs, and I don’t think she’s as good over a mile. Yes she won a group 1 over a mile last season, beating Farhh, but that was a 4 runner race that wasn’t truly run. She was always likely to beat him for speed in such a scenario. Moonlight Cloud came into this race last season in much the same form as she does now, having won the Prix Maurice De Gheest both times. Last year she came 4th to Excelebration, coming home well enough after being hampered at a crucial stage. I don’t think she was in any way unlucky though, she may or may not have been 3rd with a clear run, but I doubt she’d have won. Her run seemed to be starting to flatten out close home, and if in the clear earlier, she likely would have faded late, and thus may have run slower, instead of faster.
Elusive Kate finished a head in front of Moonlight Cloud in that race, having made the running at a reasonable pace. She went into that race having won the Prix Rothschild on her previous start, also at Deauville. Having won that race again last time out, she comes here with form figures at the track of 11131. Very impressive indeed, as the last 3 have been in group 1’s. After getting a soft lead to beat Sky Lantern at Newmarket, I felt Elusive Kate put up a career best performance last time. She made most of the running, but didn’t get an easy lead, as the very good topspeed figure will testify, and was very impressive in quickening clear when asked, of what I thought was a very good horse in Duntle. Elusive Kate may not get the lead tomorrow, but if the pacemakers hare off to fast, William Buick is cute enough to just ignore them, and set his own fractions. If that happens it will help her chance no end, and hinder the likes of Dawn Approach and Intello.
Declaration Of War has developed into a decent group 1 horse, indeed he won a group 1 at Ascot. He looks to have been found out the last twice though as slightly below this class. He traveled well in the Sussex, but couldn’t maintain the gallop as well as the first two. He looks a much quicker horse this year, than last, and its possible a less than true gallop would see him beat Dawn Approach. He quickened well to win at Ascot when he got a clear run, and last time traveled better than Dawn Approach before flattening out. A slight worry for him is his trainers form, Aidan’s horses aren’t exactly flying, of his 39 runners over the past 14 days, only 11 have been placed, when 17.8 would be expected given their respective Betfair SP’s.
Aljamaaheer pulled very hard when 2nd to Declaration of War in the Queen Ann, and he can do better if he settles. He won a group 2 last time and is not the worst 20/1 shot in the world. I could see him being placed, but he hasn’t got the same scope to win as a few others. Olympic Glory was a decent 2 year old, 2nd to Dawn Approach in the Coventry, and winning a poor group 1 Arc weekend being the highlights. He doesn’t seem to have trained on if what he’s done so far as a 3 year old is any guide. He made a meal out of beating a 100 rated horse in the Greenham, before flopping in the French 2000, and hasn’t been seen since. Even his 2 year old best won’t be good enough to win this, and I’d be surprised if he figures.
If they go steady here it would give Moonlight Cloud a chance to use her pace, where as Dawn Approach really needs a good gallop, and has to show he’s recovered from a hard race only 11 days ago. He is still the most likely winner, but Elusive Kate doesn’t seem to have much to find with Dawn Approach, looks to have superior form to Intello, is uncomplicated, and has a great record at the track. She is also a much bigger price than that pair and the 10/1 with