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Prix Marcel Boussac preview

Probably Europe's finest weekend of racing is underway at the beautiful Longchamp racecourse in Paris. It's not all about the Arc, there's a fantastic support card as well. Covering three races on the undercard is Owen Alsop. You can follow his work via @owenalsop. First up, it's the G1 for the juvenile fillies.

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The Prix Marcel Boussac

Exclusively for two year old fillies, the Prix Marcel Boussac has thrown up a host of classic contenders in previous years and is a real flag ship event for juveniles in Europe. Superstar Arc winning filly, Zarkava, 1000 Guineas victor Finsceal Beo and champion juvenile, Rumplestiltskin are but a few that have their names forever ingrained on the Marcel Boussac. Who will be joining them up in lights for this 2013 edition?

The market is headed by Freddie Head’s Royalmania who will be bidding to give her owners, the Wertheimer Brothers, back to back victories in this Group 1 event following Silasol’s success twelve months ago. An extremely impressive winner on debut at Deauville back in August, Royalmania was last seen scoring a snug victory in a Conditions race at Chantilly. There will be no question marks over her ability to see the mile out, whilst the soft conditions won’t be an issue either. What I will raise question marks about, however, is what Royalmania has beaten in her two assignments to date. Both races contested by Royalmania have produced just one subsequent winner and although I don’t doubt this daughter of Elusive Quality has the ability and potential to improve up to this level, I can’t justify taking the short price on offer (9/4 generally) and will be exploring other options in this particular race.

At the prices, I would be more inclined to have a look at the Wertheimer’s second runner, Indonesianne, from the Christophe Ferland yard. A similar profile to Royalmania, Indonesianne won cosily on debut before running a nice second to Andre Fabre’s Miss France in a Conditions event at Chantilly last time out. Miss France has subsequently gone on to win the Oh So Sharp Stakes at Newmarket and is now at the head of the Antepost markets for next year’s 1000 Guineas. This is an eye catching piece of form for me and the generally available 16/1 has also had me raising my eye brows. I think Indonesianne is a nice each way proposition.

A five-pronged British raid is headed by Richard Fahey’s Sandiva who is fresh from a Group 3 victory in the Prix Du Calvados. Richard Hughes’ mount left the well regarded Straight Thinking in her wake as well as trouncing subsequent Group 1 winner, Chriselliam in the Calvados and it his hard to ignore this consistent filly on that basis. Sandiva has only tasted defeat once, at the hands of Albany Stakes victor, Kiyoshi who hasn’t been disgraced at Group 1 level since. If you are interested in Richard Fahey’s filly, I’d advise you to take the current price available.

Charles Hills saddles consistent filly Queen Catrine who has been knocking on the door of Pattern Company all season long. The only reason I can see for her being the large price that she is would be that she is unproven on the softer surface; all of her form to date has come on good to firm which I can assure you, will not be appearing at Longchamp.

Another who is unproven in the soft is Aidan O’Brien’s entry, Wonderfully. A Group 3 winner of the Silver Flash Stakes, Wonderfully has since failed to build on that promising win and has looked somewhat out of her depth at Group 1 level, I would be surprised to see her bring home the chocolates for Ballydoyle here.

Olly Stevens’ Hoku has claims back on a preferred surface and I would certainly not rule out a forward showing stepped up in trip for the first time, although improvement is imperative if she is to provide her trainer with another memorable victory for this season.

The same can be said for Godolphin’s Majeyda who was last seen finishing two lengths adrift of smart stablemate Ihtimal in the May Hill at Doncaster. Whilst I wouldn’t rule out a good run, I find it hard to see this Listed winner improving past others in the field. Racing Post Trophy and Irish 1000 Guineas entries to boot could yet prove me wrong.

The filly I am most interested in is Jean-Claude Rouget’s Lesstalk in Paris. I was most taken by her hands and heels victory in the Group 3 Prix D’Aumule after Ioritz Mendizabal had to sit and suffer searching for a gap in the straight. She is already proven over the trip and on the ground, which is a huge plus, and, only twice raced, more improvement is imminent from this daughter of Cape Cross who I firmly believe, has a touch of class about her. I am brimming with confidence that come the conclusion of the Marcel Boussac, all the talk in Paris, will be about Lesstalk in Paris. Generally a 4/1 shot I have seen snippets of 9/2 about – and, as a competitive affair as it is, I am nailing my colours firmly to the Lesstalk in Paris mast.

Alain De Royer-Dupre’s fascinating contender, Veda, is once raced and is stepping straight out of Maiden company into the Group 1 arena. It is a very intriguing entry but De Royer-Dupre has won several Group races with horses of a similar profile in France this season and although I wouldn’t completely rule out the possibility of it happening again on Sunday, I do believe that this may be a bridge too far. Veda’s victory was over course and distance however, and on the soft; factors that all add credibility to her fascinating challenge.

Similarly, Testina, from the Beguigne stable is stepping out of Maiden company into the Group 1 arena and despite the ease in her last start victory, it is questionable whether she will be up to this level when reflecting on the form of that race. Christophe Soumillon is an eye catching booking, however.

Stormyra and Kenzadargent both have several lengths of form to find on fellow (and more fancied) competitors in the Marcel Boussac whilst Princess Bavaroise will be suited by the ground but will have to answer question marks over her ability to see out the mile at this level.

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