Only 6 runners but this race is a Group 1 in all but name. Volkan Star has been a revelation this year, with wins at Newmarket and Paris Longchamp, both of which have very solid form and times on the clock to back it up. He will be hard to beat and has stamina in abundance, so I would expect James Doyle to try to make every yard. However, this is by far the strongest field he has faced so far this season and I am quite keen to take him on.
Let’s start with the outsiders, Ketil was beaten last time by Volkan Star and I don’t see any reason for that form to be reversed here. Tuscan Gaze has the services of Pierre-Charles Boudot, which is always a plus, but his Italian form is some way below what will be required here. Pao Alto was impressive when winning at Longchamp in May, but he was a disappointing 6th in the Prix Du Jockey Club, when he had a far better trip round than most and just wasn’t able to quicken when it mattered. The step up in trip will help, but I suspect he may need a bit more cut in the ground to be seen at his best.
That leaves us with 2. First is Dick Whittington, an unbeaten colt by War Command. He is 2 from 2, having won a maiden at Saint-Cloud in May and then returning to that track to take a Conditions race over this trip in June. It’s very hard to knock an unbeaten horse and he certainly deserves to take his chance at this level. However, the 2 races he has won have both been run off a slow pace and the form is some way below that which others in this field have achieved. I would suspect, that with the likely strong pace, he may be found wanting at this level on just his 3rd start.
PORT GUILLAUME, trained by Jean-Claude Rouget has been on my radar for a long time. He went into the Prix Du Jockey Club on the back of 3 wins from 3 starts, including an impressive win in a Conditions race at Saint-Cloud in May, a race that has worked out very well. I was all over him for the Prix Du Jockey Club, but he never had a chance. Being held up in rear was never going to suit in such a big field and in truth he was almost last turning in, so did very well to come wide and finish 5th, beaten 4 lengths. There is enough stamina in his pedigree to suggest that this trip will be within his range and the smaller field should suit. I expect him to track the likely leader Volkan Star and he should have enough of a finishing kick to take this on the run in. If he does then connections may role the dice and take a shot at the Arc in October, though his trainer has an embarrassment of riches on that front, with Tawkeel, Raabihah and Sottsass all possible runners.
PORT GUILLAUME 1 PT WIN