Some of Europe’s best sprinters will be fearing an Australian challenge in the Group One Prix Maurice de Gheest (1,300m) at Deauville on Sunday.
The only Group One sprint in Europe over this distance usually attracts a potent mix of top-class 1,200m performers stretching out in stamina and potential milers dropping in distance after not quite seeing out their races.
One of the horses firmly in the former camp is Australian contender Artorius, who has spent the summer contesting the big sprints at some of Britain’s festivals.
Trained by Anthony and Sam Freedman, the five-year-old finished third in the Group One Platinum Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot in June and the Group One July Cup over 1,200m at Newmarket a month later and was staying on strongly at the finish on both occasions.
It is not folly to suggest that Artorius would have won both sprints had they been run over 100m further and this unique Deauville distance looks to be perfectly suited for him to take a big trophy back home.
Perfect Power was sent off a warm favourite for the July Cup after winning the Group One Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot but disappointed when finishing only seventh.
The pacesetters got the fractions right in front and Perfect Power was never able to come with his usual late challenge, but his regular rider Christophe Soumillon nominated this race as the perfect next target for the Richard Fahey-trained three-year-old.
He will receive weight from his elders but his poor runs this season have come either over a mile, which is too far for him, or when taking on older horses. He could still improve but may need to strengthen up to challenge more physically mature contenders.
Naval Crown finished two places in front of Artorius at Royal Ascot and a place ahead of him in the July Cup and he sets the standard for the others to aim at, while Harry Three could well be underestimated.
He has won his past three races, is improving rapidly and was an impressive winner over 1,200m at this course last time when winning a Listed race by three and a half lengths nearly a month ago.
Italian raider Amilcar is another who should not be underestimated. Still an entire at the age of six, he won a Group Three sprint at Longchamp last time and should be staying on strongly at the death given his good form over further.
The Group Three Prix de Reux (2,500m) has disappointingly attracted just five runners with the Andre Fabre-trained Botanik looking likely to add to his good recent record of two wins and a second in his past three starts.
For those punters who like big fields, the Grand Handicap de Deauville (1,600m) will feature plenty of runners and Tornadic could well give a good sight as he has progressed up the rankings quickly since moving to France from Britain at the start of the season.
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