Longchamp Saturday Preview: Elleegant victory possible
Longchamp’s big race meeting in early October centers on the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1). Arc Day at the famous racecourse in the Bois de Boulogne of Paris is a mighty one, with six Group 1 races on Sunday. But Saturday is a big day in its own right.
The day before the Arc, Longchamp hosts several major prizes, including two Group 1 races and three Group 2 events.
One of these, the Prix de Royallieu (G1), carries extra international interest as it is the race that 11-time Australian Group 1 winner Verry Elleegant, whose earnings of $9 million are below only 2021 Saudi Cup winner Mishriff among the Arc runners, was forced into after being excluded from the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Her French handicap rating dropped to 113 after two below-par performances in France this year, which put her 22nd in order of ratings among Arc entries and thus outside the 20-horse limit for the Arc.
TwinSpires is accepting betting on the Saturday at Longchamp as well as the Sunday, so here’s a look at some potential spot plays.
7:23 a.m. ET: Prix Chaudenay (G2)
3,000 meters (about 1 7/8 miles), 3-year-olds
Seven three-year-olds face the starter for this stamina test. Dermot Weld’s Irish raider #1 Duke De Sessa will probably start favorite after his victory in the 1 1/2-mile Paddy Power (G3) at Leopardstown Sept. 10, and he should be right in the mix.
However, there’s a lot to like about the filly #7 La Mehana. She’s won her last three, including a comfortable victory in the 1 3/4-mile Prix Michel Houyvet at Deauville Aug. 15. Her stamina is more proven than Duke De Sessa.
- $10 win/$20 place: #7 La Mehana
8:33 a.m. ET: Prix de Royallieu (G1)
2,800 meters (about 1 3/4 miles), 3-year-olds and up fillies and mares
The big question here is whether #3 Verry Elleegant is close to bringing her A game to this contest. On past performance she’s 12 pounds better than anything else in this field. There’s also no doubt she can stay the trip; while she’s won Group 1 races as short as seven furlongs, her best performance by some way ratings-wise came when thrashing a good international field in the two-mile Melbourne Cup (G1) last year with 126 pounds; the only mare to successfully carry more than that in the big race was Makybe Diva (128 pounds) when she won the race for the third time in 2005.
Verry Elleegant’s third placing in the Prix Foy (G2), while well below her best, was an improved effort on her Prix Jean Romanet (G1) failure Aug. 21, and came after she led in running for just about the first time in her career.
The big dangers come in the form of two other foreign raiders. #4 Sea La Rosa has been in great form this year, winning three of her four starts, most recently the Prix de Pomone (G2) Aug. 21. Prior to that she won the 1 3/4-mile Lillie Langtry (G2) at Goodwood July 30, just chasing down runaway leader Urban Artist.
Third in the Lillie Langtry, after perhaps being held back a little too long, was another Royallieu runner, #8 Emily Dickinson. Aidan O’Brien’s three-year-old has been a little below the best of her age this season but has excelled most when pushed beyond 1 1/2 miles, and at her last start stayed on well for fifth in the St. Leger (G1) over 1 13/16 miles. She may need a strong pace to win here.
It looks a decent contest, but even the Verry Elleegant that showed up in the Prix Foy could be good enough to win this – and if it’s anywhere near Melbourne Cup-form Verry Elleegant, it’s unlikely any of the runners here will stop her.
- $10 win/$30 show: #3 Verry Elleegant
10:25 a.m. ET: Prix du Cadran (G1)
4,000 meters (about 2 1/2 miles), 4-year-olds and up
One of France’s premier staying races, but it would be a surprise if it didn’t go to Ireland. #7 Kyprios is unbeaten in five events of 1 3/4 miles and over this year, the Ascot Gold Cup (G1), the Goodwood Cup (G1), and Irish St. Leger (G1) among them. All his Group 1 races were won by less than a length, but there isn’t a tougher horse in a battle in Europe.
He’s also scored on tracks ranging from good to firm up to yielding, so the possibility of a wet track at Longchamp won’t be a problem.
The main danger appears to be #3 Quickthorn, one of the big improvers of the season. He showed ability mainly in handicaps last year, his best effort being a second-place finish in the Ebor H. at York. This year, after second placings behind Trueshan and Princess Zoe, he’s won the Henry II (G3) at Sandown, the Prix Maurice de Nieuil (G2) at Longchamp, and the Lonsdale Cup (G2) at York.
Quickthorn put up a stunning performance at York; he led by 15 lengths a mere three furlongs from the start of the 2 1/16-mile contest, and the others never got close. His final victory margin was 14 lengths, and the runner-up, Coltrane, won the Doncaster Cup (G2) over Trueshan at his next start.
It’s unlikely Quickthorn will be allowed to get that far in front again, but he looks the most likely horse to give Kyprios a race.
With this pair appearing to be the main contenders, I’m going to focus bets on exotics surrounding them.
- $1 trifecta: 3, 7 with 3, 7 with all
11:00 a.m. ET: Prix Dollar (G2)
2,000 meters (about 1 1/4 miles), 3-year-olds and up
A solid field is assembling for this contest. Most notably present is #1 Addeybb, an old rival of Verry Elleegant who beat the Australian mare three times on her home turf in Group 1 races in 2020 and 2021 as well as taking the Champion (G1) at Ascot in 2020.
At his best he’d probably win this, but it’s hard to know if the eight-year-old is still at his best. He’s run twice this year, finishing third both times in races he should have been going close to winning. However, he had good ground on both occasions and the best way to judge whether he’s still a top-class horse will be on the soft conditions he prefers, which he should get here.
The big improver in this field is #6 Anmaat, who has found another level as a four-year-old. After racing in handicap company last year, he began 2022 by winning the John Smith’s Cup, a rich handicap at York, earning him a crack at black type company in the Rose of Lancaster (G3) at Haydock. There he put away a decent field by four lengths, including #3 Grocer Jack, who reopposes him here. He looks like a horse going places.
Perhaps underrated a little here is #4 Wally. Three starts back he was second in the Prix d’Ispahan (G1), and he’s won two Group 3 races in the meantime. He’s worth a look at what could be a reasonable price.
- $10 win/$30 show: #6 Anmaat
- $10 show: #4 Wally
11:35 a.m. ET: Prix Daniel Wildenstein (G2)
1,600 meters (about one mile), 3-year-olds and up
A decent field of milers is assembling here. #5 Erevann, third to Inspiral in the Prix Jacques le Marois (G1) in August, may well start favorite and should be prominent. The Dubawi colt faces several other horses on the way up, among them #6 Triple Time, #7 Facteur Cheval, and #9 Checkandchallenge.
But it’s the old man of the field that I’m going to support. #1 The Revenant has been a grand horse for trainer Francis-Henri Graffard, and is regularly a major challenger in the one-mile Queen Elizabeth II (G1) on Champions Day at Ascot. He’s used this race as a prep the last two years, winning in 2020 and finishing second to Real World in 2021.
At his last start The Revenant was a distant third to Dreamloper in the Prix du Moulin (G1), but that was on good to soft going and he should be improved for that effort on expected soft going. He should go very close.
- $10 win/$30 show: #1 The Revenant