Prix Jacques Le Marois Group 1 - Deauville 16th August
The best race of the weekend, the Prix Jacques Le Marois can be compared to the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood, where the best of the classic generation take on the older horses over the mile. The straight mile at Deauville is a proper test and this years race is one of the most exciting and competitive we have seen. With the possible exception of Mohaather, all of the top European milers are here.
A field of 7 go to post, with some serious reputations on the line. Let us start with the outsiders, Restiany for Henri Pantall, who won a decent listed contest at Saint-Cloud and Pretreville who was 2nd to Persian King last time out. Both have had good seasons and are 100+ rated horses, but it would be a tremendous shock if either of them were to feature seriously in this race. Pretreville is a likely pace angle, but that may be as far as they will feature.
This race will require a 120+ performance to win. Persian King has already proven himself at Group 1 level, with wins in the French 2,000 Guineas in 2019 and the Prix D’Ispahan last time at Chantilly. On the face of it, a 2 length win against Stormy Antarctic would leave him with a bit to find, but Andre Fabre and Pierre-Charles Boudot are in flying form at present and Persian King has proven that he will handle the testing ground, he is a real danger.
Circus Maximus, for Ballydoyle, is yet another Group 1 winner this season in the field. His win in the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot was a battling display and if anything he improved again when going down by a neck to Mohaather at Goodwood in the Sussex Stakes. He has proved himself at this level on multiple occasions and the booking of Christophe Soumillon is a definite plus at Deauville. His battling qualities make him a lively contender.
Perhaps most overlooked in this field is Romanised, last year’s winner. Romanised returned last month at the Curragh to take the Group 2 Minstrel Stakes with ease. He was always travelling the best on that occasion and won without ever coming out of second gear to beat an in form Lancaster House by just under 2 lengths. That run should have put Ken Condons charge spot on for a repeat bid here and I don’t think he has as much to find as the market would suggest, although the ground is a bit of an unknown.
Having dealt with the older horses, we come to the 3-year-olds, the Classic generation. Alpine Star for Jessica Harrington receives a very useful 9lbs from her elders. She was a very impressive winner of the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot and was then 2nd in the Prix De Diane at Chantilly, beaten a Short-Head. That form is really working out well, with the winner Fancy Blue and the 4th Raabihah both winning at Group level since. She is another horse for who the ground is an unknown, although there is nothing to suggest that she won’t handle it. Stephane Pasquier rode her at Chantilly and retains the partnership here.
Lastly we come to Palace Pier. John Gosden and Frankie Dettori have already had success in France this weekend with Mishriff winning very impressively on Saturday. Palace Pier is the exciting, unexposed, unbeaten colt who takes the eye. He was superbly impressive when winning the St James Palace stakes at Ascot and given that he receives weight from his elders, he is the right favourite for the race. He may well win this and go on to be a superstar, but to take the current 5/4 price would be madness. His win at Ascot was impressive, but he beat Pinatubo, who probably doesn’t quite see out the mile and Wichita, who isn’t quite good enough at Group 1 level. This race is full of battle hardened horses, with 4 other Group 1 winners in the line up and the deeper ground is going to make this a proper test. In order to win this, Palace Pier is going to have to dig deeper than he has before and I suspect he might just be found wanting on what is only his 5th career start.
With just the 7 runners, I doubt I will be investing here. This is a race that does not require a bet to be enjoyed as it looks to be a classic. If forced, I would probably chance Romanised, as I think he represents the most value, but I intend to sit down with a glass of something French and just enjoy the action.