Zelzal bids for Moulin crown
A preview of Sunday's action from Chantilly, including several key trials for the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.
Midterm bids to enhance his Arc claims in the Prix Niel
Zelzal will attempt to enhance his growing reputation by confirming his position as one of the standout milers in France with victory in the Prix Moulin de Longchamp at Chantilly on Sunday.
The Jean-Claude Rouget-trained three-year-old is out to make it back-to-back Group One wins having landed the Prix Jean Prat over course and distance in July.
Despite entering the race on the back of a two-month break, connections are happy with the the son of Sea The Stars, whose sole career defeat came in the French 2000 Guineas.
Harry Herbert, racing manager to owners Al Shaqab Racing, said: "He has only had the one bad run and that was in the French Guineas.
"We were just astonished that day. He just didn't seem himself at all, but he has put that defeat to bed in his last two races by winning very convincingly.
"He is a very talented horse and this has been the plan since last time. Jean-Claude is terrific at coming up with these plans and sticking to it.
"He did a very nice final piece of work this week and Gregory (Benoist) who rides him is very happy with him.
"Let's see how he goes first before deciding where he will go next. We will just take it one step at a time with him."
While numbers are thin on the ground for the three Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe trials, a fascinating clash looks to be on the cards in the Prix Niel which sees Japanese Derby and Guineas winner Makahiki take on Sir Michael Stoute's one-time Derby favourite Midterm.
The Khalid Abdullah-owned three-year-old will be making his first start since finishing down the field in the Dante having suffered a stress fracture to his pelvis in his build-up towards the Epsom Classic.
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Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to the owner, said: "Obviously he has had a break since the Dante and this is his comeback run.
"He is in good form and has been moving well, but he has always been a lazy worker so it is hard to fully assess how he is, as it were.
"Certainly all the work has been progressive and pleasing.
"We were confident he would be back this season, but things have got to go right. It looks a nice race to reintroduce him and it will tell us where we want to be for the future."
Although his team for the meeting may be smaller than in years gone by, Andre Fabre has interests in in two of the three trials.
Doha Dream will be taking a significant hike in grade in the Niel, a race Fabre has won 11 times before, while Elliptique, his representative in the Prix Foy, a race which has come his way on eight occasions, takes a drop in class but a step up in trip after winning a Group One over a mile and a quarter in Germany.
Fabre said: "Elliptique did well last time in Germany. There is a bit of a question mark about the trip (mile and a half).
"Doha Dream has won a couple of Listed races and heads for the Niel. He could either run in this or stay in his box, but I would prefer to see him run in this."
In recent seasons the Prix du Petit Couvert has proven to be a happy hunting ground for British raiders.
The last seven renewals, including the 2013 running which saw the Rae Guest-trained Mirza dead-heat with Dibajj from the yard of Alain de Royer-Dupre, have all fallen to challengers from across the English Channel.
Two of those victories have been provided by trainer Robert Cowell with Prohibit taking the prize in 2011 and Monsieur Joe 12 months later.
The Six Mile Bottom handler will be relying on his dual Group One winner Goldream to provide him with a third victory in the five-furlong dash on this occasion.
Cowell said: "Goldream is absolutely fine and is in great order. He worked brilliantly earlier in the week.
"He has not had his ground all year and there looks like being some warm weather in France so he should finally get the ground he has waiting for. There should be no excuses.
"The plan after this will be to go back for the Abbaye."
In the Prix Vermeille, the Charlie Appleby-trained Endless Time will be flying the flag for Britain as she bids to rediscover her winning touch after a lacklustre effort in the Yorkshire Oaks.
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