Tag Archive for: Prix de l’Abbaye

Suesa all set for Abbaye showdown

Francois Rohaut considers Suesa to be the chief French challenger in the Prix de l’Abbaye at ParisLongchamp on Sunday.

The three-year-old was unbeaten on French turf until May, taking four races including the Prix Sigy and the Prix Texanita – both Group Three events.

Her unbeaten run was ended at Royal Ascot in June when she was eighth in the Commonwealth Cup, but she bounced back to take the Group Two King George Stakes at Goodwood in late July.

A run in the Nunthorpe Stakes then produced a fourth-placed finish as the filly was drawn wide and eventually came home two and a half lengths behind Winter Power.

“She looks great, she’s very happy and quiet and everything’s perfect,” Rohaut told Sky Sports Racing.

“She came out (of York) well, we’ll just forget that race as she had a bad draw.

“We’ll just forget it, she is as well as she was before Goodwood.

“I am very happy with her – she looks much better and much stronger, she is improving I think.

“She’s probably the best French contender, I don’t really focus on who is going to run and who will like the ground, she will run her best.”

The going at Longchamp is currently described as a mixture of good and good to soft and more rain is due to fall, but Rohaut is not concerned about conditions as his runner is a proven performer on heavier ground.

“She won three times on very soft going, so I’m not worried about the ground, if the rain does come it could be even better for her,” he said.

Suesa and jockey William Buick
Suesa and jockey William Buick (John Walton/PA)

Though this weekend’s race will be Suesa’s last of the season, Rohaut is already looking forward to beginning her next campaign at Royal Ascot in June.

“I think we’ll keep her next season and in that case her first target is probably the King’s Stand,” he said.

“She’s as good over both (five and six furlongs), she won’t stay six furlongs at Ascot because they’re going uphill, but on a flat track she can stay six furlongs.”

Suesa is one of 17 still in contention for the Abbaye, with British hopes including Sprint Cup winner Emaraaty Ana and Glass Slippers from Kevin Ryan’s yard, Tim Easterby’s Nunthorpe victor Winter Power, Karl Burke’s pair of Dandalla and Lady In France, plus the Adrian Nicholls-trained Mo Celita.

Adrian Nicholls' Prix de l'Abbaye hope Mo Celita
Adrian Nicholls’ Prix de l’Abbaye hope Mo Celita (Tim Goode/PA)

Andre Fabre’s Raclette – a filly he rates as one of the best he has trained – is among 10 contenders for the Prix Marcel Boussac.

Aidan O’Brien will be without a runner in the race after his entrant, Galileo filly History, was found to be lame and is therefore due to be withdrawn.

“The plan was that she would run, but she didn’t pull out 100 per cent sound so she won’t run,” the trainer said.

“I shouldn’t think we’ll have another runner in the race.”

Oscula, who finished third in last week’s Rockfel Stakes, has been left in both the Boussac and the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere by trainer George Boughey.

She is one of three fillies in that seven-furlong heat which is headlined by Phoenix Stakes winner Ebro River for Hugo Palmer.

A total of 15 fillies and mares are in the mix for the Prix de l’Opera, including last year’s third Audarya for James Fanshawe and O’Brien’s French Oaks winner Joan Of Arc.

Space Blues is a short-priced favourite for the Prix de la Foret over seven furlongs with other familiar names including Kinross, Thunder Moon and Pearls Galore.

McGuinness planning Abbaye outing for A Case Of You

Adrian McGuinness’ A Case Of You is heading to France as he is set to be supplemented for the Group One Prix de l’Abbaye at ParisLongchamp.

The three-year-old was last seen finishing second in the Flying Five Stakes at the Curragh on September 12, coming home half a length behind Romantic Proposal having started at 33-1.

That performance was the colt’s first run over five furlongs, with his prior victories having been collected over six or six and a half furlongs in the Group Three Anglesey Stakes, the Dundalkstadium.com Race and the Group Three Lacken Stakes.

A Case Of You will now tackle a sprint trip again on October 3, with the last call for entries for the five-furlong event on September 30.

“He’s going to be supplemented for the Abbaye, so he goes there next week,” McGuinness confirmed.

“He came out of his race really well, he was bouncing and very happy.

“I think he’s improved, it was his first time over five (furlongs) and I really am looking forward to a big run there (ParisLongchamp).

“People were telling me that he was a seven (furlong) horse and that he needed six (furlongs), but he showed me a lot of natural speed at home.

“That’s why we decided to drop back to five, it was his first run ever over five.

“For a three-year-old to run for the first time ever over five furlongs, taking on some of the best sprinters in training and to finish the way he finished, you couldn’t complain.”

Should the son of Hot Streak fare well in Paris, a voyage further afield could be on the agenda as McGuinness is considering another international speed contest in the shape of the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.

“We’ll make plans after that, we’ll see which way the Abbaye goes, but there is a possibility that if he ran well he might go to the Breeders’ Cup,” he said.

“Either way I do think he’s definitely going to get better, he’s an exciting horse to look forward to for the future.”

Abbaye aim for Mo Celita following ParisLongchamp fourth

Mo Celita remains on course for the Prix de l’Abbaye at ParisLongchamp following a creditable effort in defeat there on Sunday.

Despite the ground being on the fast side and having an unfavourable wide draw, the Adrian Nicholls-trained filly stuck on well to take fourth place behind Berneuil in the Group Three Prix du Petit Couvert.

Connections will be hoping the conditions and draw will be kinder for the five-furlong feature on on October 3.

“We got back last night. She’s come out of it good. I thought she ran a blinder on ground that was probably on the quicker side for her and a draw that was on the outside and hard to win from,” said Nicholls.

“Take nothing away from the winner, who won well. He was the one with the best form of the French, but she’s done us proud again.

“I’m not saying she’d have beaten the winner but if she had a better draw, and a bit more juice in the ground, she’d have been in the first three.

“The round track was beautiful ground but the straight track was quick. They don’t water it as they don’t use it very often.

“She’s still in the Abbaye. We’ll just monitor the weather. At the moment it doesn’t look like there’s a lot of rain but that can change.

“There are a few other options – a fillies’ Listed race at Newmarket and another race in France. The main aim is to go out for there for the Abbaye and then to discuss with (owners) Mr (David) Redvers and Mr (David) Howden if she is going to stay in training or what the plans are.

“She’s still on an upward curve. I was chuffed to bits with her. She’s entitled to go for the Abbaye. She has proven that.”

Suesa aiming for Prix de l’Abbaye

Suesa is set for another bid at Group One glory as she is aimed at the Prix de l’Abbaye in October.

The filly, who is trained in Sauvagnon by Francois Rohaut, won the Group Two King George Stakes at Goodwood in July by an impressive three lengths.

A step up in grade followed at York, where the three-year-old finished fourth in the Nunthorpe Stakes, two and a half lengths behind Tim Easterby’s Winter Power.

Starting as the 9-4 favourite, the bay was drawn wide and found herself galloping alone near the outside rail as the race developed.

Winter Power had surged clear of the field by the time she hit the final furlong, but Suesa was gaining ground and accelerated from the rear of the pack to fourth place in the closing strides of the race.

Connections felt the draw was a hinderance to her chances and are now aiming for another Group One outing as the Abbaye is pencilled in for Paris on Arc day, October 3.

“She, all being well, will run in the Prix de l’Abbaye,” said James Wigan, racing manager to owner George Strawbridge.

“I think that she ran a very good race, she was probably on the wrong side of the course.

Suesa was brilliant in her Goodwood victory
Suesa was brilliant in her Goodwood victory (John Walton/PA)

“All the speed was on the other side and she had to race on her own, but she was making up ground.

“I think had she been on the other side she’d have been very close.”

Winter Power plans still to be finalised

No decision has yet been made over impressive Nunthorpe winner Winter Power’s next target.

Tim Easterby’s speedster led her rivals a merry dance at York last week to complete her tremendous progression over the last 12 months.

Her first victory came in a Redcar nursery off a mark of 76 last July, and while she ended her busy juvenile campaign with a victory in the Cornwallis Stakes, she still appeared to have plenty of ground to make up on the best sprinters.

Two victories on the Knavesmire sandwiched a creditable run in the King’s Stand at Royal Ascot before her Nunthorpe blitz, and two Group Ones remain in Europe for the five-furlong specialist.

Silvestre de Sousa and Tim Easterby winner Nunthorpe winner Winter Power
Silvestre de Sousa and Tim Easterby winner Nunthorpe winner Winter Power (Nigel French/PA)

“She’s come out of the Nunthorpe well and she’s in good form,” said Easterby.

“We don’t quite know what the plans are for the rest of the season yet.

“There are two obvious races, the one in Ireland (Flying Five) and the (Prix de) l’Abbaye, but she’s just nicely back from the Nunthorpe so we’ve no idea yet.

“She could run in one or both, I don’t know yet.”

Wooded denies Glass Slippers in bid for Abbaye repeat

Glass Slippers was narrowly denied a second successive win in the Prix de l’Abbaye as Wooded landed the prize on just his second run over five furlongs.

Kevin Ryan’s filly was aiming to become the first since Lochsong to win the Abbaye twice – but a draw in stall 10 made Tom Eaves’ task all the more difficult.

Glass Slippers broke well, though, and Eaves was able to get a prominent position on the outside and looked to have every chance.

But Wooded made full advantage of stall two and Pierre-Charles Boudot got a dream run throughout on the rail.

Entering the final furlong Frankie Dettori appeared to be going as well as anything on John Quinn’s Liberty Beach, but the very testing ground just took its toll close home.

Just as Wooded appeared to have seen off her main contender, Glass Slippers came with one last lunge, determined to hold on to her crown, but she had to admit a brave defeat.

The win capped a great weekend for trainer Francis-Henri Graffard, who won the Prix Daniel Wildenstein with The Revenant on Saturday and went close in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe itself with In Swoop.

He told Sky Sports Racing: “He’s a horse I’ve always loved. We missed Ascot because of the lockdown and Covid. It was difficult to organise it. I was upset because I knew he was going to run very well in the Commonwealth Cup.

“Then I struggled with the trip. There were no races for him over six furlongs over the summer. We decided we needed to race him and toughen him up for next year because we have a nice sprinter on our hands.

“The only question was the ground. He is much better on fast ground. He worked on Monday. Pierre-Charles said he wasn’t the same horse on soft ground. Again we decided to run because I want to toughen him up for next year.

“It’s a brilliant victory – he went on soft today because he’s a very good horse.”

Abbaye glory the Challenge for well-travelled Doyle

Jockey Joe Doyle and Make A Challenge have both travelled the long road to Paris in search of Group One glory in the Prix de l’Abbaye on Sunday.

From a family steeped in racing, County Tipperary native Doyle enjoyed success in the pony-riding circuit before graduating to the track to ride his first winner on Inis Meain for Denis Hogan in an apprentice handicap at Leopardstown in July 2012.

After an apprenticeship with Charlie Swan, Doyle followed the well-worn path to Britain and, although it brought success in the form of riding out his claim with over 100 winners, challenges were also presented.

Joe Doyle pictured at Newmarket during his British spell
Joe Doyle pictured at Newmarket during his British spell (Steve Parsons/PA)

The 24-year-old explained: “It was kind of always the plan for me that when I had my Leaving Cert finished, I would go to England. There’s a lot more racing and it would appear that the lads go over and they do very well.

“I was very fortunate, I had two good bosses (John Quinn and Kevin Ryan) and rode lots of winners. I got a lot of experience out there and it is standing to me now.

“I finished off in England after not a bad season where I think I had 22-odd winners. I found it quite difficult to settle into England and the lifestyle over there. It’s tough to explain, but it’s a different life over there.

“I did light weights the whole way through my claim, but the last season was really tough. I was heavy and I was struggling with my mental health. It all became a bit much, so I decided to come home at the end of 2017 and that’s when I started back working for Denis, just riding out for a year.”

Make A Challenge after his victory in the Midsummer Sprint Stakes at the Curragh
Make A Challenge after his victory in the Midsummer Sprint Stakes at the Curragh (Alan Magee/PA)

It was a six-month stint after this for breeze-up consignor Niall Brennan in America that helped to reignite the racing spark in Doyle.

He said: “Niall’s originally a Kildare man. I said I would have a go and I went over just riding out – cantering horses, breezing horses and I absolutely loved it. The weight started to fall off me over there because it was so hot (in Florida) and I was riding so many horses out every day.

“Niall has his own private track, so I was working there every day and then when the sales were coming up, he would send me down to Gulfstream and Miami to breeze the horses, which was an amazing experience because you are on the racecourse proper.

“I had to come home when my visa was up. As soon as I landed, I went straight back working for Denis. He asked me to take the licence out and I felt confident – my weight was good and I felt strong from riding 12 or 14 horses out a day in America.”

Hogan teamed Doyle up with Make A Challenge in a seven-furlong handicap at last year’s Galway Festival. The horse was a £6,500 Godolphin-bred cast-off rated 73 with a history of stalls issues and one previous victory for Hogan, but the pair held on by a nose and the improvement since has been nothing short of extraordinary.

“It was magic really. I never thought I would ride a Galway Festival winner after I left for England and obviously the journey that has gone on since,” said Doyle.

It has certainly been an odyssey for the five-year-old son of Invincible Spirit, who has rocketed up the ratings to a mark of 111 after eight more victories, including five at Listed level.

Doyle, who has won eight times on the horse who has rejuvenated his career, travels to Paris for a date with destiny with last year’s Abbaye heroine Glass Slippers.

Make A Challenge’s price is contracting as all-conquering sprint-king Battaash has been scratched from the field due to attritional ground in the forecast for ParisLongchamp.

Make A Challenge was behind Glass Slippers on Irish Champions Weekend
Make A Challenge was behind Glass Slippers on Irish Champions Weekend (PA)

Doyle, seeking his first Group One, said: “By the sound of things, it is going to be plenty testing. Our lad would love it to be up to his knees – he’s absolutely exceptional on very soft ground. I don’t think I would swap my lad for anything else in the race if it turns up to be very testing.

“I think he has come on from the last day – perhaps he was getting it a little easy at Listed level and I think the last day (when fifth in a Group One at the Curragh behind Glass Slippers) just sharpened him up. He’s going to have to be sharp – take nothing for granted, it is a massive task in front of him.

“The horse is in savage order and, if things go right for us, he could run an absolutely massive race. We knew he was a good horse, but heading for Group One sprints is unbelievable. Credit to Denis and the lads in the yard as the horse has come a long way.

“I think part of the whole thing is that he could have been anyone’s horse really. He was handy money and we are so fortunate to have a horse that good. It’s only really the start – we are only getting to know how good he is.

“I was there two years ago in the stands when Enable won her second Arc, so it will be nice to be in the weighing room this time.”

Battaash bypasses Abbaye due to testing ground

Battaash has been ruled out of Sunday’s Prix de l’Abbaye due to concerns over the testing ground at ParisLongchamp.

The six-year-old is unbeaten in three starts this term for Charlie Hills, having bagged the King’s Stand at Royal Ascot, the King George Stakes at Goodwood and the Nunthorpe at York on his most recent outing in August.

He had been due to have a fourth crack at the Abbaye this weekend, having won the race in 2017 and finished fourth in 2018 before coming home a disappointing 14th on very soft ground last year.

The prospect of similar conditions this year following a wet week in Paris has forced connections into a rethink.

Hills said: “They have had 13 millimetres of rain overnight, added to the rest earlier in the week.

“I think it was 4.1 on the penetrometer last year and it’s probably going to be the same, if not worse than that, this year, so we won’t be running.”

When asked if Battaash could now head to next month’s Breeders’ Cup meeting, Hills replied: “We’ll have to see how he is.

“There’s one obvious race for him in America, but we’ll just have to see.”

Battaash remains in Abbaye mix at latest stage

Battaash remains on course to try to regain his Prix de l’Abbaye crown against 13 potential rivals, including last year’s winner Glass Slippers.

Charlie Hills’ brilliant sprinter is also joined in the possible field for Sunday’s five-furlong Group One at ParisLongchamp by five further British challengers.

As well as Glass Slippers, who prevailed on soft ground 12 months ago when Battaash fell untypically short back in 14th of 16, Hills’ star may this time also come up against Denis Hogan’s Irish hope Make A Challenge.

The five-year-old was unable to contain Flying Five Stakes winner Glass Slippers when only fifth at the Curragh this month, but previously won four of six starts up to Group Two level this summer.

Among the home challenge in the Abbaye, after Wednesday’s forfeits but in advance of a supplementary stage which pertains for all Sunday’s Group Ones, bar the showpiece Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, is the sole two-year-old still in the reckoning, Jane Soubagne’s filly Livachope.

Air De Valse (Corine Barande-Barbe) and Wooded (Francis Graffard), first and second over course and distance this month, also fly the French flag.

The British contingent is completed by Liberty Beach and Flying Five runner-up Keep Busy, both from John Quinn’s North Yorkshire yard, James Fanshawe’s Archer’s Dream, Robert Cowell’s Rocket Action and James Bethell’s Moss Gill.

Four further Group Ones on the stellar card see Ireland remain very well-represented in the Prix de l’Opera, including the first three from the French Oaks.

Donnacha O’Brien’s Fancy Blue won by a short neck in a blanket finish at Chantilly in July, from Jessica Harrington’s Alpine Star and his father Aidan’s Irish 1,000 Guineas heroine Peaceful.

Completing a possible Irish quintet over 10 furlongs is another three-year-old, O’Brien senior’s Laburnum, and Dermot Weld’s Tarnawa – following her surprise success in the Prix Vermeille.

There are three British challengers, in the shape of John Gosden’s Terebellum, Fanshawe’s long-priced Deauville Group One winner Audarya and Ralph Beckett’s long-absent Feliciana De Vega.

Leading the home contenders is Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum and Jean-Claude Rouget’s unbeaten three-year-old Group One winner Tawkeel.

In the Prix de la Foret, over seven furlongs, William Haggas’ One Master currently has 14 potential rivals as she seeks a third successive victory in the race.

Three fellow British contenders could stand in her way – Quinn’s Safe Voyage, who beat One Master at York last month, and Supreme Stakes one-two, Andrew Balding’s Happy Power and Richard Fahey’s Toro Strike.

Lancaster House and Lope Y Fernandez may travel for O’Brien, while his son Joseph has Speak In Colours.

Andre Fabre’s three-year-olds Earthlight and Tropbeau are principal French hopes.

Clive Cox’s Nando Parrado is one of nine juveniles left in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere.

The shock Coventry Stakes winner, runner-up in the Prix Morny since, may face fellow British hopes Megallan, for Gosden, and Mick Channon’s Cairn Gorm.

St Mark’s Basilica and Wembley could represent O’Brien, while Ken Condon’s Laws Of Indices is another possible from Ireland.

The three-strong home team comprises Xaario, Sealiway and Selket.

There are still 19 two-year-old fillies in the Prix Marcel Boussac – including Fahey’s Deauville Group Two winner Fev Rover as one of four possible British runners.

The others are Mark Johnston’s Dubai Fountain, the Hills-trained Prado and Lilac Road, from Haggas’ Newmarket yard.

Group Three winners Divinely and Mother Earth may represent O’Brien, whose son Joseph still has Moyglare Stud Stakes runner-up Pretty Gorgeous in the reckoning. Condon’s Thunder Beauty may also travel from Ireland.

Grounds for concern – but Battaash still on track for Abbaye

Battaash remains an intended runner in the Prix de l’Abbaye as things stand, despite the prospect of very soft ground at ParisLongchamp.

Charlie Hills’ stable star could finish only 14th behind Glass Slippers in the race 12 months ago, in a defeat many put down to the soft ground.

The six-year-old gelding has been imperious this season, winning at Royal Ascot for the first time in the King’s Stand, collecting a fourth King George Stakes at Goodwood and claiming a second Nunthorpe at York.

His only success on ground described officially as soft came in 2017 – when the Prix de l’Abbaye was run at Chantilly during Longchamp’s redevelopment.

“We haven’t got as far as saying he is 100 per cent a definite runner, but from what I’ve been told it’s going to be very soft,” said Angus Gold, owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum’s racing manager.

“Who is that going to suit? I don’t know. At the moment he runs, but if it turns into an absolute quagmire I can’t tell you – but at the moment he runs.

“Everyone has their own theories about it. I don’t personally think it was the ground that beat him last year, he was just never at the races so I wouldn’t say that.

“We know he handles easy ground, it was soft when he won the Abbaye. If it was to get really bad – I can’t tell you.”