Racing gets back on track in France – here’s the ParisLongchamp takeaway

Racing resumed today at ParisLongchamp for the first time since March 17 – behind closed doors on very soft ground. You’ve seen the results, you’ve probably watched the action – but here’s some other stuff you might like to know.

By Nicholas Godfrey

What’s going on?

‘Ring-rusty’ Victor Ludorum still on course for French Guineas

The Poule d’Essai des Poulains (French 2,000 Guineas, June 1) remains the target for Victor Ludorum, despite the Godolphin colt having met odds-on defeat in the Fontainebleau.

Update: ‘She’s in great form, so here we go!’ – trainers talk about the French Guineas

Speaking on the owner’s website, Godolphin’s Lisa-Jane Graffard said the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere winner was “very ring-rusty”; he also got lit up midway through the contest and raced on the outer from his wide draw. Trainer Andre Fabre also told the Racing Post he was “not 100 per cent disappointed”.

The son of Sharmardal is now as big as 4-1 (from 11-8 fav) with Ladbrokes for the Classic, with Andre Fabre-trained stablemate Earthlight promoted to market leader, despite his reported minor setback.

Poulains betting (Ladbrokes): Ladbrokes: 7-2 Earthlight, 4 Victor Ludorum, 8 Alson, Ecrivain, The Summit, 12 Helter Skelter, 16 bar.

Tropbeau is 2-1 favourite for Pouliches

The 1-2-3 from the Prix de la Grotte now fill the first three places in ante-post betting for the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches (French 1,000 Guineas). Tropbeau (Andre Fabre/Mickael Barzalona) is a best-priced 2-1 market leader for the Classic on June 1 after scoring in determined fashion from Dream And Do and Tickle Me Green.

Pouliches betting: (Coral): 2 Tropbeau (from 9-4), 8 Simeen, 10 Dream And Do, Emoji, Marieta, Savarin, Tickle Me Green, 12 Flighty Lady, Khayzaraan, 16 bar.

G1 targets for Shaman

After a couple of G1 seconds in 2019, trainer Carlos Laffon-Parias is keen to get a top-level victory on the CV of Prix d’Harcourt winner Shaman. The Prix Ganay or the Prix d’Ispahan will provide the first opportunity for the son of the late, lamented Shamardal, runner-up in both the Poulains and the Jacques le Marois as a three-year-old. He is a 33-1 shot for the Arc with Paddy Power.

Rouget’s horses ‘not yet ready’

Jean-Claude Rouget endured a chastening return to action – notably via the eclipse of Arc third Sottsass, only fourth at odds of 2-5 in the Prix d’Harcourt.

“In view of how they have run today my horses are not yet ready,” he told French racing channel Equidia. “Sottsass will be back here in a month’s time for the Prix Ganay.”

Another Rouget-trained favourite, Chorba, was only fourth, albeit without any luck in running in the conditions race, while Classic hope Helter Skelter was sixth of eight in the Fontainebleau.

Treble for Maxime Guyon

Reigning French champion jockey Maxime Guyon enjoyed the French resumption with a treble on the ten-race card, including the Prix d’Harcourt on Shaman and the very first race to be run after the hiatus with Batwan in the G3 Prix de Saint-Georges. The Prix de l’Abbaye is the long-term target for the winner.

Guyon’s third winner was Miss Extra in a mile handicap, while Batwan’s trainer Philippe Sogorb also landed a couple of Listed races at Toulouse later on.

Shall we talk about it?

Lisa-Jane Graffard of Godolphin (owners, Victor Ludorum): “Victor Ludorum looked to be very ring-rusty but both Andre and Mickael were happy enough with his performance. Provided he comes out of the race well, he will head to the G1 Poule d’Essai des Poulains en route to hopefully contesting the G1 Prix du Jockey Club.”

Alex Pantall (trainer, The Summit): “He has strengthened up over the winter and he ran very well on his comeback at Saint-Cloud when Pierre-Charles wasn’t too hard on him and he was only beaten a whisker. I knew he would come on for that.” Racing Post

Carlos Laffon-Parias (trainer, Shaman): “Last year he showed he stayed nearly 1,800 metres but the programme in France was better if we kept him to a mile. The choice now is for races like the Ganay or the Prix d’Ispahan. He is an imposing horse and is very well bred so we need to try and crack on with him and win a Group 1.” Racing Post

Nicola McGeady (Ladbrokes bookmakers): “The French 2000 Guineas betting has been shaken up after a shock win by The Summit. We were expecting a winning return from Victor Ludorum but it wasn’t to be and he has lost his place at the head of the market to Earthlight.”

David Stevens (Coral bookmakers): “Unlike her Andre Fabre-trained stablemate, Victor Ludorum, Tropbeau was a winner on her return to action, and as a result she has consolidated her position as favourite for the French 1,000 Guineas.”

French Oaks favourite Raabihah set for Classic trial, says Jean-Claude Rouget

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