Classic Winners Among Dozen in French Oaks
Classic-winning fillies Miss France and Avenir Certain are entered in a field of 12 set for the Prix de Diane Longines (Fr-I, French Oaks) June 15 at Chantilly.
Weather and ground conditions will dictate if Diane Wildenstein's Miss France starts in the race. She was the winner by a neck over Lightning Thunder in the QIPCO One Thousand Guineas (Eng-I) last month at Newmarket in her only outing this season. Trained by Andre Fabre, the daughter of Dansili has three wins from five career starts that also includes a victory last year in the Aqlaam Oh So Sharp Stakes (Eng-III), also at Newmarket.
"What we need is good ground, so dry days before Sunday," Anthony Stroud, speaking on behalf of Wildenstein's Ballymore Thoroughbred, told England's Press Association. "Andre Fabre will look at the ground and make a decision, but she will also be confirmed for the Coronation Stakes (Eng-I) next week at (Royal) Ascot."
Miss France's dam, Miss Tahiti, finished second in the 1996 French Oaks for Daniel Wildenstein and Fabre.
In looking over challengers in the field, Stroud pointed out that the Aga Khan's Shamkala, unbeaten in three starts, is a good filly but added that she will be racing against two classic winners. Trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre is throwing the daughter of Pivotal into deep water in the French Oaks after she captured her stakes debut in the Prix Cleopatre (Fr-III) from Oaks entrant Amour a Papa May 14 at Saint-Cloud.
"She is a nice filly and has done everything we have asked of her so far," said George Rimaud, French manager of the Aga Khan Studs. "This is a step up for her, but it is really the only option she has.
"I think we are going there with moderate to reasonable confidence and we hope she will run a nice race."
The Aga Khan has won the French Oaks seven times previously, most recently with Valyra in 2012.
Antonio Caro and Gerard Augustin-Normand's Avenir Certain is unbeaten. She's looking for a fifth successive victory and to underscore her win in the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (Fr-I, French One Thousand Guineas) May 11 at Longchamp. The daughter of Le Havre prevailed last time after a lengthy stewards' inquiry on claims she caused interference early in the stretch of that race, which had 16 runners.
French One Thousand Guineas third-place finisher Xcellence also reopposes, and trainer Francois Doumen is hoping the ground is firmer than it was in the Guineas. The Champs Elysees filly won the Prix Imprudence (Fr-III) April 3 at Maisons-Laffitte in her start prior to that, quickening smartly when called upon.
Prominent Florida-based owner Martin Schwartz bought the Xcellence after the French One Thousand Guineas, run at 1,600 meters (about one mile), with the French Oaks in mind.
"The question you have is, will she stay?" Doumen said, pointing out the French Oaks distance of 2,100 meters (about 1 5/16 miles) is farther than his filly has been asked to run previously. "Looking at her pedigree, she should stay, but if you look at her races, you have a doubt. But she's a month older and that will maybe help her stay a little further."
Prix de Diane Longines (Fr-I, French Oaks), 3YO fillies, 2,100 meters (about 1 5/16 miles), turf.
No. PP. Horse, Jockey, Trainer
1. 7. Avenir Certain, Gregory Benoist, J.-C. Rouget
2. 6. Shamkala, Christophe Soumillon, A. Royer-Dupre
3. 4. Amour a Papa, Pierre-Charles Boudot, J. Artu
4. 10 Local Hero, Michael Barzalona, Y. Durepaire
5. 1. Miss France, Maxime Guyon, A. Fabre
6. 9. Bereni Ka, Thierry Thulliez, Y. Gourraud
7. 11. Feodora, Stephane Pasquier, R. Weissmeier
8. 8. Ball Dancing, Antoine Hamelin, P. Brandt
9. 9. Bocaiuva, Christophe Lemaire, F. Chappet
10. 5. Lavender Lane, Fabien Lefebvre, J. Hammond
11. 2. Xcellence, Gerald Mosse, F. Doumen
12. 12. Bawina, Olivier Peslier, C. Laffon-Parais
All carry 126 pounds.
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