By Hong Kong Jockey Club
France: Wesley Ward’s dual Royal Ascot winner Campanelle returns to Europe seeking to add another G1 prize to her name in one of the best sprint races of the season.
The three-year-old filly revisits the scene of her Prix Morny victory last year, having been awarded the Commonwealth Cup in the stewards room after Dragon Symbol was demoted for leaning into her and taking her off a straight line throughout the final 200 metres at Ascot.
Among the leading British-trained challengers in the Sunday’s Prix Maurice de Gheest will be Starman, who blew away the best of his compatriots in spectacular style in the July Cup at Newmarket on his last start, while Laws Of Indices could return to the site of her Prix Jean Prat triumph for Irish trainer Ken Condon.
But it is Campanelle who is the headline act and she will have her regular partner Frankie Dettori aboard as she bids for a fifth win in six career starts.
Her only defeat came over a mile in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies’ Turf at Keeneland last November, a loss for which Ward still finds it hard to pinpoint a reason.
“Six and a half or seven furlongs are ideal,” said Ward. “I was thinking at the Breeders’ Cup that with that big long stride she has, she would be really effective there over a mile. I don’t know if it was the distance that got her or it being the end of a long year for a two-year-old having been broken and trained.”
Ward gave Campanelle plenty of time to get over a tough two-year-old season and sent her to Royal Ascot to take on the best of Europe’s three-year-old sprinters without a prep run.
Ward said: “Her breezes when she came back off that break were awesome good and she ran fantastic for not having a start. She’s got a race in her now. She’s running on a course that she’s won over and she took the same route that she did last year, going back to America and training there.”
A year older than Campanelle, Starman has also been sparingly raced and is five wins from six starts, with trainer Ed Walker’s patience being rewarded with that stunning win in the July Cup.
The son of Dutch Art found himself behind a wall of horses but when jockey Tom Marquand found a gap then Starman just took off.
Walker ducked the Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot because of heavy ground but with that all-important Group 1 now safely won, is more willing to take a risk if there is more rain in Deauville this week.
Walker said: “I’ve been massively happy with him, he’s in flying form. We’re all systems go. We’d like the weather to go for us but I expect we’ll run regardless.”
Laws Of Indices could only finish fifth behind Campanelle and Dragon Symbol at Ascot but produced a fine effort when springing a 29-1 surprise in the Jean Prat under Olivier Peslier, while runner-up Thunder Moon and fourth-placed Valloria could also line up on Sunday.
Other potential rivals include the Ralph Beckett-trained Kinross – a winner in the G2 Lennox Stakes at Goodwood recently – while Aidan O’Brien could be represented by Lope Y Fernandez and Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Order Of Australia.
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