All eyes in the racing world will be on France this afternoon as star filly Alpha Centauri looks to take her Group One tally to four in the Prix Jaques le Marois at Deauville (3.20).
Jessica Harrington’s three-year-old has taken the fillies division by storm this year in landing the Irish 1,000 Guineas, prior to a devastating performance at Royal Ascot in the Coronation Stakes and then going on to dominate the Falmouth at Newmarket last month.
As straightforward as she is talented, Alpha Centauri has proved she is a class apart among her sex for now and takes on the colts for the first time on sunday.
A posse of proven Group One performers, including Queen Anne winer Accidental Agent and French challengers Intellogent and With You, both whom have won at the highest level on their most recent starts, lay in wait so this will be her toughest task to date, while the ground may well be softer than ideal.
Those factors mean Alpha Centauri makes limited appeal from a punting point of view at 11-10, and at the prices there may well be value against her, though I will be watching the action unfold live on Racing UK in the hope that she can continue her winning run.
There is also some good quality action in Ireland today alongside the domestic racing at Leicester and Windsor and I am going with two selections from each of those venues.
Stuart Williams has his team in good shape at the moment and I am hopeful that Restless Rose can provide the yard with another winner.
She scored at Yarmouth in June, and she has been beaten in slightly stronger-looking races than this on her two outings since.
She has edged up a pound in the weights for her latest second to Gorgeous Noora but that filly went close earlier this week in a higher grade handicap off her revised mark and Restless Rose looks like a filly who has wins in her off this mark.
She travelled better than ever at Newmarket last time and appears to be improving so can hopefully see off a similarly progressive type in Goodnight Girl who won well last time at Newbury and appeals as a serious threat.
I have plenty of respect for the chance of 7-2 joint favourite Royal Residence as he has looked like a horse ahead of his mark of late and was unlucky to not at least go close last time, but he has yet to win a race and I just prefer the claims of Captain Jameson.
A dual winner last season, John Quinn’s three-year-old also appeals as attractively handicapped at present but has not really had the rub of the green so far this season.
An eyecatcher from a bad draw at Chester in May when he also met trouble before making some late gains, he then ran well at Haydock on ground that was probably as fast as he really wants it before racing too freely up with a strong pace at Thirsk last time.
On each occasion he has looked in form and well treated and if the rain continues to fall and conditions ease further his chance will be enhanced (last year’s wins came with cut in the ground).
The drop in trip from seven furlongs to six may also be a plus and with the yard’s horses running well and leading apprentice Jason Watson taking over in the saddle with a 3lbs claim, Captain Jameson makes plenty of appeal.
Madame Bounty has shaped as if at the top of her form recently but the run of the race has conspired against her and meant she has not been able to turn her good form into wins.
Although she made all at this track to break her maiden, a strong pace under a patient ride seems key to Madame Bounty nowadays but she has not had that good gallop to aim at on her last couple of outings.
The presence of several confirmed pace-forcers suggests she may get it this time though and with cheekpieces added for the first time at a track where she has run well on both previous visits, she looks a solid enough favourite.
This does not look a strong race and although 3-1 favourite Nampara arrives in great form and Shortbackandsides may find improvement on his first start for Tim Easterby, I am taking a chance on Affluence.
A maiden after nine starts, Martin Smith’s three-year-old needs to find a bit of improvement to get off the mark but his best form, which came at this track, would give him a chance and there are a few factors that could see him make the required improvement.
The application of blinkers for the first time, a drop in trip and presence of top rider Oisin Murphy all have the potential to make a difference and at 6-1 I’m happy to pay to see if they do.
Chris Dixon's Sunday best bets: