The undoubted highlight of Sunday’s action comes from Deauville in France for the Group 1 Prix du Haras de Fresnay-Le-Buffard ran over the 1m trip.
What is unusual about this year’s renewal is that the British raiders seem to be the main protagonists that are dominating the betting markets with such a strong representation on show.
The main player in the race has to be the Hugo Palmer trained superstar Galileo Gold. The horse has already won two Group 1 contests this season and been runner up in each of its other two attempts.
In-form Jockey Frankie Dettori gets the leg up and he will be seeking to continue his brilliant recent run that saw him clinch his 3000th career win earlier this week.
The absence of regular rivals The Ghurka and Awtaad in the field makes this look like a pretty straight forward mission for the three-year-old star provided the race hasn’t come too soon for it after a gruelling battle with the former at Glorious Goodwood in the Sussex Stakes last time out. As a result, He is the confident selection here to add to his Group 1 tally and all things considered will take some stopping here.
One rival who should give him the most to think about is Richard Fahey’s Godolphin owned colt Ribchester. He ran a cracker in defeat to Galileo Gold in the 2000 Guineas, but was beaten comprehensively that day. He did, however, show signs of improvement last time out when running the selection close in the Sussex Stakes last time out and looks closely matched to that rival, but despite the assistance of William Buick in the saddle, he does seem to always come up just short at this level.
Another contender who could run a big race at a price is last year’s winner Esoterique. The Andre Fabre trained horse has been below his best of late, but his course form and trainer’s outstanding record in this race cannot be ignored so he looks a decent each way alternative to outrun his price. It would, however, need to be his very best form to trouble the selection.
Galileo Gold (WIN)
Back on home soil the feature race of the afternoon at Pontefract is the EBF Stallion Highfield Farm Flying Fillies’ Stakes, which is a listed contest over six furlongs.
The Clive Cox team have had a number of high-profile winners over the past few weeks and there representative here, Priceless, looks to have a solid chance of enhancing that record.
The talented three-year-old has posted solid efforts in defeat with runner up placings in each of its last two starts in what were both competitive handicaps at Newmarket. The horse is certainly not our of her depth here as proven by the narrow margin of her defeats in those last two outings. The only worry is her record of only a maiden win to her name so far, but the assistance of Sylvestre De Sousa in the saddle will only help the cause, so she gets the confident nod in this one.
The main danger will come from Eric Alston’s Ridge Ranger. The horse ran a corker in the Steward’s Cup under a hefty weight last time out to finish seventh and looks a major player in this one, but her win at York in a Group 3 contest two starts back means she has to carry a penalty and top weight again here and she may be vulnerable to an improver.
Another live danger to the selection is Ed Vaughan’s last time out winner Mehronissa. A handicap winner at Newmarket last week and raised her career stats to five wins in 11 starts, but this level is much tougher for all that she warrants respect and she does need to improve some to trouble the principles.
The William Haggas stable really seem to have turned a corner in recent weeks and they might just be hitting top form as they look to extend their winners tally with three-year-old maiden Russian Finale in the penultimate contest of the afternoon. The horse caught the eye when finishing off its race really well after a poor start.
The only newcomer in the field that day in what was a course and distance maiden race and it is likely that there is much more improvement to come here. This race will not take much winning unless any of the newcomers turn out to be something special, so this looks a solid chance to get off the mark and Russian Finale is the one to be on here.
Mick Channon’s French import Organza has ran well and posted some decent placed efforts in all four starts for the English trainer since joining the yard and so that experience coupled with the assistance of Sylvestre de Sousa would give the horse a real chance here today, but it may be vulnerable to one of the likely improvers in the field.
Michael Dods is no stranger to success at Pontefract and he looks to also have a live chance with his twice raced maiden Hilldale. The horse was placed on both starts to date and looks a key player based on that form with improvement still likely. The three-year-old gave the impression the extra furlong would suit so should give the selection the most to do.
Russian Finale (WIN)