By Jon Lees
France: Earthlight, France’s top two-year-old in 2019, could have a prep race before he lines up in the Poule d’Essai des Poulains, his trainer Andre Fabre said on Tuesday.
France’s 24-time champion Flat trainer has a trio of G1-winning colts among this year’s Classic crop – and unless Britain is open to international competitors after the coronavirus shutdown, all three may have to meet in the French colts’ Classic.
France Galop has already issues a revised programme in preparation for a resumption of racing behind closed doors from May 11. As a result, the Poules d’Essai des Poulains and Pouliches have been rescheduled to Monday, June 1.
Earthlight was unbeaten in five starts last year, his victories including a pair of top-level triumphs in the Prix Morny and Middle Park Stakes, both at 6f. He is second favourite for the Qipco 2,000 Guineas behind Pinatubo, another Godolphin-owned colt; both are sons of the recently departed Shamardal.
Fabre also trains Victor Ludorum, also undefeated who won all three starts at a mile culminating in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere beating Alsan, who has joined the stable since winning the Criterium International. Tropbeau, who finished third in the Cheveley Park Stakes, is his leading contender for the Pouliches.
“They will be ready,” said Fabre. “Victor Ludorum is going to run, Earthlight I don’t know yet; I have to go through the programme. Tropbeau is going to run in the fillies’ prep race.
“I haven’t decided with Earthlight yet because I would prefer to go a shorter distance for the first race,” Fabre went on. “We just need to have an indication of what is going to be the programme; we will have the rest of the programme soon.
“The good German colt Alsan might go straight for the French or the English Guineas. Hopefully we can travel by then. Until the end of May it won’t be the case, unfortunately, but I hope that in June we can resume international competition. Victor Ludorum will be prepared for the Poulains.”
Fabre has won seven editions of the Poulains, capturing the prize 12 months ago with Persian King, who has been absent since finishing second in the Prix du Jockey Club. The trainer confirmed the colt was back in training but he had “no plans for him yet”.
France has been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic but the number of hospital admissions has been falling over the last two weeks. The government was expected to announce how it will start to lift the country’s six-week lockdown on Tuesday.
“Everybody has to be cautious and not take [undue] advantage of this opening,” Fabre said. “I recommend everyone around me to stay cautious.
“We are working for racing returning. It is so frustrating that we can’t run but it’s the same for all activities; we can’t help it.”