Six French runners to look out for at Royal Ascot 2017
Sunday 18 June 2017
Tom Peacok plucks out five French horses to look out for at Royal Ascot and watch videos of Qemah's Coronation stakes victory 12 months ago and analysis of The Right Man's Al Quoz Sprint victory in Dubai by James Willoughby and Nick Lightfoot.
With quotable trainers such as Wesley Ward, Mark Casse and Art Sherman, American runners have taken a large share of the spotlight for overseas runners at Royal Ascot in recent years.
While the likes of Andre Fabre and Jean-Claude Rouget might not be quite as lucid on camera, the French have been more than a match when it comes to putting winners on the board.
Fabre took last year’s Duke Of Cambridge with Usherette and Rouget the Coronation with Qemah, following on from three French successes in 2015. Both those horses and trainers will be back for more, with Fabre in particular now flourishing after a quieter season than usual.
It has not been the best of weeks for the French contingent, with Prince Of Wales's Stakes hope Cloth Of Stars and promising Gold Cup aspirant Vazirabad both ruled out. Alongside Signs Of Blessing, who must have a leading chance in the King's Stand Stakes on Tuesday, here are the best six left to cross the Channel in hope, rather than expectation.
QEMAH (Duke Of Cambridge Stakes, Wednesday)
Trainer: Jean-Claude Rouget
7-2 for Duke Of Cambridge (general)
Rouget has waited for a potentially easier assignment against her own sex on Wednesday, rather than take on Ribchester in the Queen Anne Stakes. The dual Group One winner has course form from last year’s Coronation Stakes and her reappearance at Lingfield when she was second is easily ignored as she was too fresh and lost out to a race-fit rival in a tactical affair. Ribchester looks leagues ahead of his domestic Queen Anne opposition on the evidence of the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury and Qemah has passed up being the possible fly in the ointment on day one to being 7-2 second favourite behind Laugh Aloud on day two.
LE BRIVADO (Jersey Stakes, Wednesday)
Trainer: Andre Fabre
Lightly-raced but clearly a fast-improving colt who was caught close home by Brametot in the French Guineas. That form looks even better now, with Brametot going on to double up in the Prix du Jockey Club. Fabre believes that seven furlongs will suit and the Jersey, a race which is now often overlooked by trainers in favour of the Commonwealth Cup, looks an ideal opportunity.
PRECIEUSE (Coronation Stakes, Friday)
Trainer: Fabrice Chappet
Price: 10-1 (Paddy Power)
Overlooked at 33-1 when quickening clear in the French 1,000 Guineas, there is every chance she will be passed over again in the betting, especially with the likely presence of dual Classic star Winter in the line-up. Precieuse has been sold to Peter M. Brant’s White Birch Farm in America but is set to be supplemented. Her trainer is riding the crest of a wave at the moment and on pedigree, this half-sister to sprinter Baccarat should not mind the change to quicker conditions.
FAS (Commonwealth Cup, Friday)
Trainer: Pia Brandt
It is dangerous to be pitching a horse into perhaps the hottest event of the entire Royal Ascot meeting, featuring the much-vaunted trio of Caravaggio, Harry Angel and Blue Point and potential Wesley Ward flying machine Bound For Nowhere. This should ensure some each-way value on Fas, who is certainly worth his place in the line-up after seeing off subsequent French 1,000 Guineas winner Precieuse at Chantilly. His trainer is one of the sharpest around and will not want to waste her trip.
THE RIGHT MAN (Diamond Jubilee Stakes, Saturday)
Trainer: Didier Guillemin
20-1 (Paddy Power)
This sprinter seems to be better than ever at the age of five, with a long-planned trip to Dubai proving an inspired move by Guillemin, a former jockey who trains a string of around 80 in south-western France. The Right Man caught the eye when third on his World Cup night prep run in the Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint and, ridden more prominently in the Al Quoz Sprint in March, beat the American raider Long On Value in a head-bob. A versatile and under-the-radar individual, who could give 9-2 favourite Limato a race.
HAFTOHAF (Wokingham Stakes, Saturday)
Trainer: John Hammond
He may not be a fashionable name nowadays, but it should not be forgotten that John Hammond trained not only Montjeu and Suave Dancer but Ratio, who dead-heated in the 2003 Wokingham. The Chantilly-based Englishman is decidedly cautious about his overseas runners and this one has been in the form of his life at eight, winning a couple of handicaps and was a close fourth in two Listed events, most recently showing up well against the Diamond Jubilee-bound Al Jazi. Gets in off what could be a lenient mark of 100.
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