France: Persona Grata faces tougher task in repeat bid

Irish Rookie (black cap): makes her first visit to France since that second place in the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches at Longchamp last season

PICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos) Persona Grata faces tougher task in repeat bid By David Carr 10:06PM 20 SEP 2016

Preview: France, Wednesday 3.35pm BST (Live on ATR)

Maisons-Laffitte: Prix Bertrand de Tarragon (Group 3) 1m1f, 3yo+ fillies and mares

ED WALKER'S Persona Grata faces a stiffer task if she is to repeat last year's victory in the Prix Bertrand de Tarragon – thanks to the European Pattern Committee.

Middleham Park Racing's mare gained a second Listed victory when landing this contest 12 months ago, but the 1m1f event has been upgraded to Group 3 status and she now takes on last year's French 1,000 Guineas runner-up Irish Rookie, among others, at level weights.

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"Let's just hope she can win it again as a better race," said Walker. "She's a dual Listed winner, so we're trying to win a Group 3 and it looks tough; she's going to have to produce a career-best to win.

"She's in cracking order, though, and her last two runs have shown her right back to form. Coming back a furlong will help her, I'm not quite sure she stays ten furlongs that well."

Confidence-booster

Irish Rookie makes her first visit to France since that second place in the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches at Longchamp last season.

The Falmouth Stakes fourth was hampered by the subsequently demoted Namhroodah in Listed company at Ascot last time, and trainer Martyn Meade said on Tuesday: "What happened was most unfortunate and hopefully we can retrieve it at Maisons-Laffitte.

"We looked around for a race that, on the face of it, seemed winnable. She had a bit of a bad time at Ascot last time when we were looking for a confidence-booster for her, but I hope this will work.

"She's in great form, I've given her plenty of time between her races this year, she hasn't been over-raced."

Rivals include Highclere Thoroughbreds' Chartreuse, who was beaten a nose in a Group 3 at Deauville last month, and the Aga Khan's Sayana, who finished second when odds-on for the Princess Elizabeth Stakes at Epsom in June.

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