French Guineas 2020: here’s the takeaway from Deauville

Horse Racing Victor Ludorum Deauville
Victor Ludorum (Mickael Barzalona) wins the Poule d’Essai des Poulains.
Photo: France Galop/

By Nicholas Godfrey

So you know the results of both the Poules d’Essai (French Guineas), rescheduled from ParisLongchamp to Deauville. You’ve probably seen the races – if not, look below — but here’s some other stuff you might want to know.

What’s going on?

Victor Ludorum 2-1 favourite for French Derby

Poulains winner Victor Ludorum is now generally available as 2-1 favourite (from 6 with Coral) to complete a Classic double in the Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly on July 5. His late sire Shamardal completed the double for Godolphin in 2005. Victor Ludorum is also 20-1 for the Arc with Paddy Power.

Prix du Jockey Club (Coral): 2 Victor Ludorum, 5 Ocean Atlantique, 6 Pao Alto, 12 Port Guillaume, The Summit, 16 Ecrivain, 20 Another Sky, Helter Skelter, 25 bar.

Eighth Poulains victory for Andre Fabre

Victor Ludorum was an eighth winner of the French 2,000 Guineas for his remarkable trainer Andre Fabre, who has now won 26 French Classics altogether – plus a full house of British Classics.

The 30-time French champion’s previous seven Poulains winners were Siberian Express (1984), Soviet Star (1987), Vahorimix (2001, promoted after Noverre failed post-race test), Clodovil (2003), Lope De Vega (2010), Make Believe (2015) and Persian King (2019).

He still needs a few more winners to match the feats of Robert Denman, however, who trained 11 Poulains winners between 1883 and 1926.

Mickael Barzalona, Godolphin’s retained rider in France, has never won the Poulains before.

G1 breakthrough for trainer Frederic Rossi

Dream And Do’s victory in the Pouliches was a first G1 triumph for trainer Frederic Rossi, who has spent much of the spring leading the French trainers’ title before the bigger guns start firing.

Horse Racing Dream And Do
Dream And Do (Maxime Guyon) touches off Speak Of The Devil to win the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches. Photo: France Galop/

Indeed, he had never before even had a winner above G3 level. “This is very emotional for me as my first Group 1,” said Rossi, who is based away from the bright lights at the Calas-Cabries training centre in the Marseille region. “Deauville always brings me luck – I love coming here!” he added.

Dream And Do no-go for Prix de Diane

British bookmakers offered Prix de Diane (French Oaks) quotes of about 8-1 for Dream And Do after she touched off Speak Of The Devil in the Pouliches.

However, according to France Galop, trainer Frederic Rossi doubts she has the necessary stamina and will instead target the G1 Prix Jean Prat over 7f – a sensible move, perhaps, as jockey Maxime Guyon was purring about the filly’s speed.

Runner-up Speak Of The Devil is a 6-1 shot for the Diane with Coral and Ladbrokes.

Prix de Diane (Coral): 4 Raabihah, 6 Speak Of The Devil, 8 Dream And Do, 10 Simeen, 12 Magic Attitude, 14 Bonne Idee, 16 Flighty Lady, Savarin, Tawkeel, Vadsena.

Pride before a fall for Barzalona

Anyone who witnessed Mickael Barzalona standing up in the saddle as he hit the line for Pour Moi’s last-gasp Derby victory will appreciate that he has never been a shrinking violet.

Barzalona punched the air as he scored on Victor Ludorum in the Poulains, after which he was approached for an interview by Katherine Ford, doing the honours for Sky Sports Racing.

According to Alex Hammond in the studio, the jockey declined, saying: “No – I’m not going to because I’m going to win the 1,000 Guineas as well so I’ll speak to you after that!” Tropbeau finished fourth. To Barzalona’s credit, though, he still returned for the requested interview. 

“She was a little bit disappointing,” he reported. “We had the perfect run, travelling in a good position and relaxed but she didn’t pick up.”

Shall we talk about it?

Mickael Barzalona (jockey, Victor Ludorum): “He’s a powerful horse and his comeback run did him the world of good. He can be tricky before the race but he cantered down very well and he is straightforward in the race. We planned to go forward but the race was run at a perfect tempo for me and he settled straight away; he was in the zone. He did exactly what I asked him to do: he came very easily into the race, very strongly, then after that he did the minimum. I never had to get serious and I think he will stay further.”

Lisa-Jane Graffard of Godolphin (owners, Victor Ludorum): “He has a real touch of class, just as he showed as a two-year-old. The Prix du Jockey Club has always been ‘Plan A’ but I am sure that Andre Fabre will want a chance to assess the horse over the coming days and discuss it with Sheikh Mohammed. He showed a lot of class over 1,600m today so that can open up other options. His comeback was hard to take but Andre Fabre knows perfectly how to bring a horse towards a goal.”

Frederic Rossi (trainer, Dream And Do): “Dream And Do is a champion. Every time she runs, the race goes like a dream. The mile is her maximum distance and Maxime Guyon rode her to perfection. I will talk to her owner, but I don’t think that she will run in the Prix de Diane.”

Maxime Guyon (jockey, Dream And Do): “I am really happy with that. I think I may have lost the race for her in the prep race at Longchamp by asking her to go a bit too soon. She has a short burst of speed and this is a 1,600m that really plays to speed. She has a really serious turn of foot.”

Cristian Demuro (jockey, Speak Of The Devil): “I thought I was coming to win. She took time to find her stride and really found top gear just strides from the post. I think I pushed the winner on!”

Fabrice Chappet (trainer of Speak Of The Devil and Mageva): “Losing by a nose is not easy! The fillies were in top form. This race was their main target. After running well on their respective seasonal bows, they have shown that they are top-class fillies. Mageva had a bad draw and had to wait before finishing very well. As did Speak Of The Devil, who can sometimes be keen. After a waiting race, she found herself a bit too far back from the leaders. She kept running on only to beaten by the smallest of margins.”

Paul Binfield (Paddy Power bookmakers): “Andre Fabre had already described Victor as an ideal horse for the Jockey Club and after exhibiting that devastating turn of foot, he’ll be a very tricky customer to beat over the longer distance.”

Tweet tweet

France flag image by Chickenonline from Pixabay

USA: Arrogate – arro-great! Relive the four races that established the legend

GB: ‘He’s giving us the right messages’ – trainers talk about the Coronation Cup

GB: Sleepless in Lambourn – Kenzai Warrior’s 2,000 Guineas challenge keeping Roger Teal awake at night

Royal Ascot-bound Technician set to miss Coronation Cup unless going eases

‘She looks like a bull!’ – Jason Watson on 1,000 Guineas favourite Quadrilateral

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