Prix Jacques Le Marois (G1) Preview
Courtesy of Michael Adolphson
Race: Prix du Haras de Fresnay-le-Buffard Jacques le Marois
Grade: Group 1
Racecourse: Deauville (France)
Win and You’re In: TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile
• Relatively flat, straight course.
• Historically a clash between the best 3-year-olds and older horses of Europe over a mile
• Sponsored by Niarchos Family’s Normandy farm Haras de Fresnay-le-Buffard
o Niarchos Family has won this nine times (record is 10, held by Marcel Boussac)
o Niarchos Family has two entries: Alpine Star & Circus Maximus
• Miesque (1987, 1988), Spinning World (1997), Six Perfections (2003) and Goldikova (2009) have pulled off the same-year Marois-Breeders’ Cup Mile double.
• Impact on BC Mile goes all the way back to 1984 winner Lear Fan, who finished seventh in the inaugural Mile as the third wagering choice astern John Gosden-trained Royal Heroine.
• An eighth victory this year by Andre Fabre would give him the record; currently tied with the late, great Francois Boutin.
Note: OR (Official Ratings) are provided. To give class context on those numbers, USA champions Sistercharlie and Uni are both rated 118, Tepin was rated 122 and Goldikova topped out at 125. All replay links provided by At The Races.
PALACE PIER (John Gosden / Frankie Dettori) – 3/2
HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum | OR: 120
This year’s septet is led by Palace Pier, who is trained by five-time Breeders’ Cup-winning conditioner John Gosden. Owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, the son of Kingman is undefeated from four starts and exits a win in Royal Ascot’s St James’s Palace Stakes (G1) over champion Pinatubo. He will be ridden by 14-time Breeders’ Cup-winning jockey Frankie Dettori, who is giving up his rides at the prestigious Yorkshire Ebor meeting next week for this ride, as he will have to quarantine upon return to the UK.
PERSIAN KING (André Fabre / Pierre-Charles Boudot) – 3/1
Godolphin SNC & Ballymore Thoroughbred Ltd | OR: 117
Godolphin has won five of the previous 20 Marois renewals and this year will try to get it done with Andre Fabre-trained Persian King, who exits a one-sided victory in the Prix d’Ispahan (G1). Another son of Kingman, he was the beaten favorite in last year’s Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) (G1) behind Arc-placed Sottsass, Sistercharlie’s younger half-brother and subsequently crowned champion 3-year-old in France. Persian King has yet to finish worse than second, winning seven of 10, including last year’s French 2000 Guineas. Pierre-Charles Boudot, who crushed Enable’s dreams last year with an Arc-winning ride on Waldgeist, has the mount.
ALPINE STAR (Jessica Harrington / Stephane Pasquier) – 4/1
Niarchos Family | OR: 117
Alpine Star is trained by Jessica Harrington, who won this two years ago with her Niarchos-owned half-sister, Alpha Centauri. Like her sister, she was a one-sided winner of Royal Ascot’s Coronation Stakes (G1), where she defeated Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) winner Sharing and 2019 European champion 2-year-old filly Quadrilateral. Last out, she made the running in the Prix de Diane (French Oaks) (G1), only to lose in a blanket finish, a head behind next-out Nassau Stakes (G1) winner Fancy Blue. Being a 3-year-old filly, she carries 121lbs, nine less than Circus Maximus and four below Palace Pier. Sophomore fillies have flourished in this race, including aforementioned Niarchos-owned Miesque, Alpha Centauri and Six Perfections, as well as Miesque’s daughter East of the Moon (12th in the 1994 Mile). Stephane Pasquier, who was aboard in the Oaks last out, has the return call, but must negotiate the one-hole and find cover.
CIRCUS MAXIMUS (Aidan O’Brien / Christophe Soumillon) – 5/1
Flaxman Stables (Niarchos Family), Magnier, Tabor & Smith) | OR: 120
Circus Maximus, fourth in the TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile last year after a slow start, won last year’s St James’s Palace (G1) and exits a solid runner-up effort in the Sussex Stakes (G1) on July 29 behind Europe’s top-ranked miler, Mohaather (rated 123). Co-owned by the powerful Coolmore conglomerate, the son of Galileo also won the Prix du Moulin (G1) last year and this year’s Queen Anne Stakes (G1) at Royal Ascot—both Breeders’ Cup Challenge races. Perennial French champion jockey Christophe Soumillon picks up the mount, which is a rare pairing with trainer Aidan O’Brien, but one worth noting, as they teamed up in 2012 to win this race with Excelebration.
ROMANISED (Ken Condon / Billy Lee) – 6/1
Robert Ng | OR: 118
It says a great deal about the depth of this year’s renewal when the defending champion, Robert Ng’s Romanised, has done little wrong since and is still only the fifth choice in the race. Trained by Ken Condon in Ireland, the 2018 Irish 2000 Guineas (G1) champ renews a rivalry with Circus Maximus, with whom he had an eventful clash last September in the Prix du Moulin (G1). Raced only once since, he returned off a 314-day layoff to defeat Ballydoyle’s well-regarded Lancaster House in the Minstrel Stakes (G2) at The Curragh on July 18. Jockey Billy Lee, like Dettori, is accepting the quarantine in order to keep this assignment.
Others: Longshots PRETREVILLE (Pascal Bary / Cristian Demuro), 16/1, and RESTIANY (Henri-Alex Pantall / Maxime Guyon), 66/1, must improve markedly to factor here, but each hail from connections completely capable of surprising at the highest level.
Synopsis: Palace Pier has an opportunity to announce himself as the top 3-year-old turf miler in training with a big win, but that quest must go through three older warriors who are all multiple G1 winners and a top-class filly to whom he is giving weight. Circus Maximus looks to be the speed in the race, so all paths go through him in the final quarter-mile, and Alpine Star has a chance of continuing a great dynasty of sophomore fillies winning this race in the famous Niarchos silks. Meanwhile, the consistently underrated Romanised once again seeks to earn the respect of the masses, while Persian King seeks to do the same by defeating a bona fide world-class field on his home turf.
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