Skalleti in top shape for Ganay mission

Jerome Reynier is unconcerned about conditions at ParisLongchamp as his star grey Skalleti looks for a 19th career success in the Group One Prix Ganay on Sunday.

The evergreen gelding was a winner last time out when taking the Prix d’Harcourt at the same track in early April, defeating both Sealiway and Mare Australis to retain his title in the Group Two event.

That smart performance came on going described as very soft, something the seven-year-old seems to relish, but Reynier is confident he will be equally as competitive on Longchamp turf currently labelled good to soft and pointed to wins on better ground in the Prix Exbury and the Prix d’Ispahan as evidence.

“I’m very happy with him and the way he came back from the Prix d’Harcourt,” he said.

“He feels really good and there’s no rain but the Prix Exbury was run on good ground, the Prix d’Ispahan was run on good ground and the Ganay will be run on good ground so I think if we are waiting on the rain, we’d never run him again.

“That’s part of the game and we know he is very competitive, even on good ground, but when he recovers it takes a little longer.”

Skalleti has a particularly solid record at Longchamp, with his seven runs at the track resulting in six victories, and Reynier is expecting jockey Maxime Guyon to employ his usual last-gasp tactics.

“The only time he got beaten the ground was terrible – patchy and sticky,” the trainer said.

“He won the Prix d’Ispahan there on good ground so I’m not really bothered by it now, there will be enough pace with Sealiway and Mare Australis, who won the Ganay wall to wall last year.

“The race should be run at a decent pace so we will be waiting at the back as usual and waiting for the same finish as last time.”

Skalleti has won 18 of the 25 races he has contested throughout his career and though advancing in years, he has thus far shown no signs of losing his ability.

“It’s not very often you get horses who for many years are so competitive, he was a nice four-year-old, a competitive five- and six-year-old and now at seven he’s still very competitive,” Reynier said.

“It’s great to be able to keep him at that level, one day he’ll go a little slower but right now he’s just amazing.

“We had a really good feeling about him before the d’Harcourt, he was in great shape and he’s in exactly the same shape so I am very hopeful for Sunday.”

Joseph O’Brien’s State of Rest will travel over from Ireland for the contest, his first run since prevailing in the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley in October.

The Starspangledbanner colt also landed the Saratoga Derby Invitational Stakes last August and is a horse who seems to thrive on an overseas mission having competed in four different countries across nine career starts.

“He’s trained well so far this year,” O’Brien said of the four-year-old.

“It looks a very good race but it’s a nice starting point for him and we’re hoping we can run a good race and get his season started off on the right note.”

State Of Rest defeated Anamoe in the Cox Plate, a Godolphin-owned colt who has since gone on to win two Group events, latterly a six-and-a-half-length victory in the Group One Rosehill Guineas.

“The form has held up well, all of State Of Rest’s form from last season has held up,” said O’Brien.

“We think he’s matured from three to four so we’re excited to get him back and we’re looking forward to the year ahead.

“He certainly travels well, he took it all in his stride last year and we’re hopeful we can have a good season with him this year.”

Sealiway was a 12-1 winner of the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot in October and was runner-up to Skalleti in the Prix d’Harcourt.

The latter run was on very soft ground and the chestnut also has form on heavy, but trainer Francis-Henri Graffard is confident he can prove himself to be just as effective on a firmer surface.

Sealiway after his Ascot success
Sealiway after his Ascot success (Steven Paston/PA)

“He came on a lot for his last race, I couldn’t be any happier with him,” he said.

“The ground won’t be a problem to him, he can go on good ground with no issues and we’re looking forward to it.”

Sealiway is owned by Le Haras De La Gousseri, whose yellow and green silks will also be carried by the Richard Chotard-trained Smile Makers.

Andre Fabre’s Mare Australis made all of the running to land the race last season and will return to face the two horses who defeated him in the Prix d’Harcourt, Sealiway and Skalleti.

Pia and Joakim Brandt are represented by Pretty Tiger, who makes his debut for the stable having previously been trained by the suspended Fabrice Vermeulen.

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