By Jon Lees
France: French racing is set to resume with a bang on Monday after Arc third Sottsass and leading Classic hopes Victor Ludorum and Earthlight were the big-name entries for the meeting at ParisLongchamp.
The 2019 Prix du Jockey Club winner Sottsass has been engaged in the G2 Prix D’Harcourt for his first start since he finished third behind Waldgeist and Enable last October.
The Jean-Claude Rouget-trained four-year-old colt limbered up for his return to action with a gallop at Deauville on Tuesday.
Monday will be the first day of racing in France since the sport was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. Paris police have given the fixture the go-ahead and meetings are also scheduled at Toulouse and Compiegne. All take place with no spectators allowed.
The ParisLongchamp meeting could also see one or both of the unbeaten Andre Fabre-trained pair Victor Ludorum and Earthlight, who with stablemate Arapaho have been engaged in the G3 Prix de Fontainebleau, among four Group events on the ten-race card.
The 1m race is a trial for the Poule d’Essai des Poulains and was won last year by the Fabre-trained Persian King, who went on to claim the French colts’ Classic.
Victor Ludorum landed the G1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at the end of last year while Earthlight won all five starts culminating in victory in the Middle Park. Among several British bookmakers betting on the three Longchamp card, he is a best-priced even-money with William Hill and Betfred.
Fabre indicated last week he would prefer to start Earthlight over a distance shorter than a mile, but with so many races lost due to the suspension of racing there may be few other options.
The Rouget-trained Helter Skelter, a running-on fifth when only a length and a quarter behind Victor Ludorum in the Lagardere, is also entered in the Fontainebleau.
The G3 Prix de la Grotte for fillies could feature Fabre’s Cheveley Park Stakes third Tropbeau and the exciting Khayzaraan, who posted two impressive wins in August and September, scoring by margins of nine and 4½ lengths for trainer Freddie Head.
Also engaged is the Aga Khan-owned Simeen, a Rouget-trained half-sister to G1 winner Sarafina, who won her only start in June.
Prix de Fontainebleau (Ladbrokes): 10-11 Victor Ludorum, 9-4 Earthlight, 6 Helter Skelter, 7 Ecrivain, 10 Devil, 12 Celestin, 14 Pisanello, 16 Arapaho, 25 bar.
Prix de la Grotte (Coral): 13-8 Tropbeau, 11-4 Khayzaraan, 6 Simeen, 7 Emoji, 10 Bionic Woman, Dream And Do, 14 Quiet Times, 16 bar.
Prix d’Harcourt (William Hill): 8-15 Sottsass, 6 Skalleti, 8 Shaman, 10 Simona, 16 Royal Julius, Skyward, Soudania, Sublimis, 20 bar.