French group I winner Olympic Glory and Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (gr. IT) victress Flotilla are the respective headliners May 12 at Longchamp in the first two classics of the French season, the Poule d'Essai des Poulains (Fr-I, French Two Thousand Guineas) and Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (Fr-I, French One Thousand Guineas).
British trainer Richard Hannon has the double threat of Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad al Thani's Olympic Glory and Qatar Racing's Havana Gold for the French Two Thousand Guineas while trainer Nicolas Clement's Style Vendome and trainer Andre Fabre's Intell look be the main dangers among the French-based runners in the 1,600-meter (about one-mile) classic for males.
Hannon will bid for a second classic victory in the span of a week after landing the QIPCO One Thousand Guineas (Eng-I) May 5 at Newmarket with Sheikh Joaan's Sky Lantern. Olympic Glory looks to be the favorite among 18 entered in the French race as he has already proved to be top-level winner at the Parisian racecourse.
The Choisir colt has been defeated only once in six career starts, that coming last June at Royal Ascot when second by three-quarters of a length to eventual European champion 2-year-old male and 2013 QIPCO Two Thousand Guineas (Eng-I) winner Dawn Approach in the Coventry Stakes (Eng-II). The loss that ignited a subsequent three-race win streak that was capped in his season finale by a 1 1/4-length triumph over filly What A Name in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere-Grand Criterium (Fr-I) last October at Longchamp. He punched his ticket to the Poule d'Essai des Poulains with a victory in the AON Greenham Stakes (Eng-III) in his 2013 bow April 20 at Newbury.
"He has been to Longchamp before and loves it there," Hannon's son and assistant, Richard Hannon Jr., told At The Races. "We didn't want to run him in Newmarket (in the Two Thousand Guineas) because we didn't think he would handle the dips and the undulating ground. "He switched on a lot from the Greenham; he's working a lot keener now."
Havana Gold will try to rebound from a runner-up finish April 18 at Newmarket in the Craven Stakes (Eng-III) in which he was beaten four lengths by front-running stablemate Toronado, who subsequently just missed finishing third in the Two Thousand Guineas at Newmarket.
A consistent Teofilo colt, Havana Gold has four wins and two seconds from seven lifetime starts. His record includes the Somerville Tattersall Stakes (Eng-III) last September at Newmarket.
Style Vendome, campaigned by Comte Andre de Ganay and Christian Baillet, comes in with a four-race victory skein that includes the seven-furlong Prix Djebel (Fr-III) April 4 at Maisons-Laffitte.
The colt from the final crop of European champion sprinter and prominent French sire Anabaa comfortably won traditional Poule d'Essai des Poulains trial by 2 1/2 lengths, suggesting he is capable of stretching out to a mile.
Alain and Gerard Wertheimer's Intello has a perfect record in three career starts and will make his group stakes debut in the Poule d'Essai des Poulains.The German-bred Galileo colt cuts back to a mile following the 3 1/4-length win in the 1 1/8-mile Feilden Stakes April 17 at Newmarket.
Flotilla, a Mizzen Mast filly, makes her first start since the Breeders' Cup among 20 entered for the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches.
Her 1 1/4-length win at 11-1 odds in the Juvenile Fillies Turf was flattered when favorite and eighth-place finisher Sky Lantern won the English equivalent last weekend at Newmarket.
Trained by Mikel Delzangles, Flotilla bypassed a start in the Prix de la Grotte (Fr-III), a Guineas prep, in mid-April at Longchamp, reportedly because she was not yet ready to race.
Guy Pariente's Kenhope, a Kendargent filly, will bid for a third consecutive win and first at the highest level after halting the perfect four-race record of Godolphin's Tasaday in the Prix de la Grotte.
Tasaday won the Prix des Reservoirs Haras d'Etreham (Fr-III) last fall at Deauville to conclude her juvenile campaign. The Nayef filly, who is trained by Fabre, reopposes in the French One Thousand Guineas.