Last season’s first two from the Irish Derby meet once more in what promises to be an informative Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud on Sunday, live on Sky Sports Racing.
Hurricane Lane and Lone Eagle served up a real treat at the Curragh 12 months ago, with Charlie Appleby’s Hurricane Lane managing to reel in Lone Eagle late on.
After that the Godolphin runner went on to win the Grand Prix de Paris and the St Leger, before finishing third in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
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Surprisingly well beaten on his return at Royal Ascot in the Hardwicke Stakes, Appleby expects to see a different proposition this weekend.
“There’s a bit of rain forecast, so it looks like being on the slower side of good for sure. Any quicker and it might have raised concerns,” he told the Godolphin website.
“I’ll be honest, I was pleased with his run post-race (at Ascot). Pre-race I was confident that we’d got his level of fitness up there, but turning four he’s done very well physically and he’s certainly tightened up for the run, that’s for sure. William (Buick) was happy with the way he travelled, he went through his girths and stayed on at the pace that we all saw.
“What we’ve seen since the race is a sharper, tighter model. Some might ask if 15 days is enough time between runs, but 15 days was always our plan – the Hardwicke and then the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud and what we saw last year was he thrives on his races.
“He went English Derby, Irish Derby and then Grand Prix de Paris last year and that was probably his most impressive victory, so he thrives on his racing and we’re very happy.”
Appleby has made no secret that his season revolves around another crack at the Arc, with one more run somewhere else before that.
“This is a horse that we’re working back from the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. He ran a solid race in it last year. We know he’s happier in slower conditions and in the first week of October it is likely to be that,” said Appleby. “He’ll have one more prep run before the Arc and whether that will be in Ireland, England or France, we’ll make that decision closer to the time.”
Lone Eagle has a few more questions to answer. After his great run at the Curragh he was last of five in the King George in which he picked up an injury. He was also beaten on his comeback at Goodwood behind Third Realm, who also runs in this.
Now jointly trained by Freddie and Martyn Meade, the former told Sky Sports Racing: “He had some of the best form in the book last year and he’s done well. We’re really excited to see him run again.
“It was very important to get that run into him, as he showed last year in the (Sandown) Classic Trial. He then came out and ran really well in the Cocked Hat. I think we’re in a good spot with him and I think he’s earned his place.
“It’s a very tough race, but it fits well in the calendar for a few people’s plans. It’s by no means easy, but hopefully we’re entitled to be there.”
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Aidan O’Brien won the Saint-Cloud race 12 months ago with Broome, who won the Hardwicke this year and held an entry to defend his crown until earlier in the week. Instead he relies on Coronation Cup third High Definition.
Ryan Moore is on board and fears Andre Fabre’s Mare Australis, a Group One winner last year who returned to winning ways last time out in Group Two company.
“This is a very strong renewal and it will take plenty of winning,” Moore told Betfair. “Hurricane Lane is the form horse and can be expected to come on a fair bit for his comeback third in the Hardwicke, on ground a bit too quick for him maybe, but I was impressed by Mare Australis at Chantilly last time and I think he could be the one to beat.
“High Definition obviously has his chance, though. He ran well in the Coronation Cup last time, posting his best effort over this mile-and-a-half trip so far, and his earlier second to Alenquer in the Tattersalls Gold Cup has clearly been well franked since by the likes of State Of Rest and Broome.”
Fabre also run the Frankel colt Baratti while Sir Mark Prescott’s Alpinista, winner of three Group Ones in Germany last season, makes her eagerly-awaited return.
Third Realm, Bubble Gift and Sweet Lady complete the nine-runner field.