Eight runners were confirmed in the Prix du Haras de Fresnay-le-Buffard Jacques le Marois(Gr1), Sunday over Deauville’s straight mile. This is the 98th edition of this great summer milers’ championship, supported since 1986 by the stud farm created by Marcel Boussac in 1919, and taken over in 1980 by Stavros Niarchos. The French industrialist and the Greek shipowner have respectively won ten and nine times the race, about one in five since its creation.
If Study of Man (Deep Impact) wins on Sunday, they will share the honour of being the two winningmost owners, except that Stavros Niarchos is now represented by his heirs through the Irish Flaxman Stables label. The winner of the Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby, Gr1) in 2018 will be assisted by a pacemaker, Vocal Music (Vocalised), also trained by Pascal Bary after being bought from Jim Bolger in Ireland, where he ran in handicaps with a 87lbs rating.
Study of Man has not won again since his Classic success of June 2018. This season, he finished second in the Ganay (Gr1) and the Prix d’Ispahan (Gr1), but was clearly beaten for his first appearance on the mile since his debut, on level weights with Impulsif and Trais Fluors, who preceded it in the Prix Messidor (Gr3) last time out …
The favourite will probably be Watch Me (Olympic Glory), a 3-year-old filly, like the 2018 winner Alpha Centauri. She won the Coronation Stakes (Gr1) at Royal Ascot. That day, more than a month after an unfortunate experience at ParisLongchamp in The Emirates French One Thousand Guineas (Gr1), the representative of owners Alexander Tamagni-Bodmer and Regula Vannod became the best European 3yo filly over the mile.
Even if the 3-year-olds have for the moment been beaten by their elders on that distance, except for Too Darn Hot in the Sussex Stakes, this could still be sufficient to win here. The best raider on paper, Romanised (Holy Roman Emperor), finished fifth in this race last year at age 3. He has failed regularly since then but has just returned to success in the Minstrel Stakes (Gr2) over 7 furlongs at The Curragh, the course where a year ago Ken Condon saddled him to win the Irish Two Thousand Guineas (Gr1). His teammate, the 7-years-old Success Days (Jeremy), has not won for two years but he seems able to perform at this level, especially when the ground softens, which will be probably the case Sunday in Deauville after the rain at the end of the week.
A Group 1 without a Godolphin runner would be rather odd and here is Line of Duty(Galileo) racing for the blues. Trained in England by Charlie Appleby, he won the Prix de Condé (Gr3) last year at 2, then the Breeders’Cup Juvenile Turf (Gr1) in the United States. At 3, he failed in the Dante Stakes (Gr2), a prep gig for the Derby of Epsom, last May in York, and then in the Blue Riband itself. He has not been seen since. Mysteries abound!
Shaman (Shamardal), for his part, was carefully prepared for this race by the shrewd Carlos Laffon-Parias for Wertheimer & Frère. The 3-year-old finished second to Persian King in the French Two Thousand Guineas (Gr1), and fifth in the St.James’ Palace Stakes (Gr1) at Royal Ascot.
In a field like this, and on a softer ground, he may find a great opportunity to stick his neck out of the wood at the best level … Another 3-year-old, Graignes (Zoffany), was supplemented by his owner Gérard Augustin-Normand regardless of his last bug, in the Qatar Prix Jean Prat (Gr1). Trained by Yann Barberot, he finished less than a length from Shaman in the Guineas before, on heavy ground. The two colts could very well support each other on Sunday.
Sunday’s other group race in Deauville, the Prix Minerve (Gr3), for 3-year-old fillies over 2,500 metres (an extended one-mile-and-a-half trip, will be contested by seven runners whose best rating lies with Wonderment (Camelot), winning filly of the Critérium de Saint-Cloud (Gr1) last year. This race can be used as a springboard for 3-year-old fillies wishing to face their elders in the Prix Vermeille (Gr1), on September 15th. The last double is to put to the credit of Shareta, even though she won the “Vermeille” at 4 years, 13 months after her Minerve win.