Prix Dollar 2013 Preview / Tips
The Prix Dollar, run over a distance just short of a mile and a quarter, is a very good Group 2, and arguably borderline Group 1. Certainly, it has at least one legitimate Group 1 horse entered, and perhaps as many as three.
The obvious horse, and the most likely winner, is Cirrus Des Aigles, a true star of the flat game. He's seven now, and a gelding, so he'll race until he can't race any more. And he's won the Dollar twice in the last three years, as well as recording a short neck second in between times. He's been targeted at an Autumn campaign all year, and I think he'll win, plain and simple.
Amongst his incredible seventeen career victories so far, he can boast three Group 1's, four Group 2's, five Group 3's, and two Listed races. Nice palmaires!
This is his optimum trip, and he's ground agnostic, so no worries on that score. With nine course wins too, seven at the Dollar distance, he knows his own way home around Longchamp's pistes.
True, he endured a run of four defeats earlier in the season, but he suffered six losses in a row earlier in his career and it hardly stopped him bouncing back. His early season form is always weaker than his late season form: in fact, he's lost on seasonal bow in each of his six racing seasons. Three of his four losses this season were at a mile and a half, beyond his optimum, and the other two were second places - firstly behind Frankel in the Group 1 Champion Stakes, and then when arguably given too much to do in a Group 3 at Deauville.
I'd expect him to be at least five pounds better than his last run, the form of which might be good enough to win this without that improvement.
Against him, Maputo could be a Group 1 horse one day, and has already won a Group 3, on his most recent start. That, like all of his last six runs, was on good to firm ground though and, whilst he won his maiden on soft, it's entirely possible he simply outclassed a weak field of Hamilton non-winners there.
Ground issues aside, Maputo has a lovely progressive profile, and this is his distance as well. He'd certainly be capable of winning a decent ground 'normal' Group 2, but the presence of Cirrus des Aigles and softish turf is enough for this punter to push his chips in another direction.
Then there's Planteur, winner of the Group 1 Prix Ganay in 2011 when trained in France by Ellie Lellouche, and third in this year's Dubai World Cup. He's had a lovely break through the summer, with just a 'penalty kick' Group 3 win at Windsor towards the end of August keeping him away from his hay.
He'll be pitched at some valuable races this autumn/winter, and could yet take in the Breeders Cup Classic, a race for which he's a 25/1 shot currently with the British bookies (and a race where the top two in the market, Game On Dude and Fort Larned, CANNOT POSSIBLY WIN).
There are two small niggles with Planteur. First, like Cirrus, this is not his ultimate goal, but rather a prep for the bigger battles ahead. And second, he does have a tendency to run well without winning. In his last eighteen runs, he had 'just' four wins. And seven second or third placed finishes, including in Group 1 company. This step down to Group 2 might be enough for him to score again, and he's respected, but I'm more interested in him in his next race, hopefully at Santa Anita.
Mandour is also a player, providing it's not too soft. He won well in the Listed Gala Stakes at Sandown three starts back, and since then has had excuses. First, he was given way too much to do in a slowly run race behind Petit Chevalier and CdA at Deauville, and then he sunk in the Prix Foy bog behind Orfevre. If eight or more go to post, Mandour could be a bit of each way value, assuming the ground is good or better.
Noble Mission will enjoy some give, and this full brother to Frankel could prove up to Group 2 level in a soggy context. His form on quicker than good reads 24443, while on good or softer it's 21121231. There is an argument to be had about his optimal trip, and whether it might be a quarter mile further than this, but I suspect this could be his best, despite the majority of his races being at a mile and a half.
Most Likely Winner: Cirrus des Aigles
Possible value play (softer than good) : Noble Mission
Possible value play (good or quicker) : Mandour