Laurent Barbarin's French Classics horses to follow

Our resident French racing expert, Laurent Barbarin, shortlists six horses to look out for in the first of a three-part special ahead of the return of French racing to Sky Sports Racing on Monday next week

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As we approach the real start of the flat season in France, it is time to reflect on some of the most promising juveniles from last year and the early part of 2020  as many of them will be on display at ParisLongchamp next week, on Monday 11th May and Thursday 14th May.


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3yo Bay Colt; Shamardal - Antiquities (Kaldounevees)
Trained by Andre Fabre

Since his winning debut at Longchamp last year, I have been a huge fan of Victor Ludorum and he proved in his short and successful 2019 campaign that he is something special. It was interesting to note Fabre’s comments after his victory in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardère when he compared him to Mill Reef.

That assessment from such a trainer as Fabre has to be taken very seriously and it tells us a lot about the ability of the horse. Fabre seems very happy with the horse after the extended “winter break” and  has big plans for the son of Shamardal, starting this Monday in the Group 3 Prix de Fontainebleau, which in theory should lead to the Poule d’Essai Des Poulains - the French equivalent of the 2000 Guineas - to be run on 1st June and then the Prix du Jockey-Club - the French Derby - on 5th July. I could then see him going for a light summer break and comeback in September for an autumn campaign.

3yo Bay Filly; Kingman - Riqa (Dubawi)
Trained by Freddy Head

Khayzaraan didn't make much of an impression when only ninth on her debut at Deauville at the end of July last year over 6f, but she was an impressive winner of her two subsequent starts over a mile, ending 2019 by winning the same conditions race won by Goldikova back in 2007. Unfortunately, the Wertheimer Brother’s champion mare failed to win a French Classic in 2008 but nonetheless became an illustrious miler over the years. After her maiden success, Freddy Head immediately ruled out any big race for Khayzaraan in 2019. Instead she was given an easy task in the Prix de La Lorie and got the job done before she was sent for the winter break. Freddy Head mentioned recently in the French newspaper that he would have preferred to have the Guineas on the re-opening day of racing ! One thing for sure is that Khayzaraan will be fit and ready to go on Monday. She will face her stiffest test to date (likely against Tropbeau) but I think that she up to it and that there is going to be a lot more to come from her. Let’s sit and watch, and hopefully enjoy a display of class!

3yo Chestnut Colt; Shamardal - Winters Moon (New Approach)
Trained by Andre Fabre 

At the time of writing, Earthlight has just been taken out of the Prix de Fontainebleau as he sustained a light injury in his last piece of work on Tuesday. Hopefully he will back soon in full training but it is difficult to know where and when exactly we will see him again in action. After winning the Prix Morny in mid-August last year, I strongly believe he would have run in the Dewhurst if there had been no Pinatubo. This would have been a legitimate target to prepare for the 2000 Guineas. Instead he went for the Middle Park and many people see him now as a sprinter! There are many opportunities for such a horse from 6f to 1m this year and it would be no surprise to see him lining up at Ascot or Newmarket if horses are allowed to travel back and forth to UK next month.

3yo Bay Filly; War Front - Daisy Devine (Kafwain)
Trained by Pascal Bary

Greenland is possibly the least-known on this list and obviously has a lot to prove but I was taken by her solid maiden victory at ParisLonchamp last September. Greenland went missing on her first start (on a soft surface) but compensated for that with a five lengths demolition job in her second and final run last year. She still looked green on this occasion and was given a couple of slaps by Stéphane Pasquier who probably wanted to find out if she had an engine. The result was conclusive and trainer Pascal Bary must think a lot of her too as she holds entries in the French Guineas, The Prix Saint-Alary (Group 1) and the Prix de Diane. Let’s keep an eye on when she is back in action.

3yo Chestnut Colt; Le Havre - Darkova (Maria's Mon)
Trained by Freddy Head

Another Sky did not race at two but made quite an impression in his only start in 2020. The half-brother to English and Irish Champion Stakes winner Almanzor showed a devastating turn of foot on his winning debut on the fibresand at Chantilly over 9.5f on 3rd March. Freddy Head won that exact same race last year with Motamarris who went on to finish third in the French Derby. Another Sky could be just as good as the former, if not better. The race was slowly run but Aurélien Lemaître could have won by 12 lengths or more had he not stopped riding his horse a furlong from home. If he can reproduce that sort of performance on turf, we are talking top-class material. The more I watch the race, the more I’m impressed by the son of Le Havre. Freddy Head’s first plan was to give him a run in a conditions race before tackling the big one, but the reorganization of the racing program may force him to run Another Sky in the Group 3 Prix La Force on 14th May.

3yo Bay Filly; Showcasing - Frangipanni (Dansili)
Trained by Andre Fabre

Over the years, we have learned that there is probably no better place for a two-year-old to winter in France than André Fabre's stables. This is why we must pay serious attention to Tropbeau. The daughter of Showcasing had shown a lot of ability at home before she went to Newmarket for the Cheveley Park Stakes last September. If you said she was unlucky in that race, I could not agree more! But what really stunned me in this contest is that she was able to change gear three times in the second half of the race. She is due to run this Monday and will obviously clash with Khayzaraan in a mouthwatering contest. She did not look the biggest individual last year but she has a huge heart. To be honest, I’m very curious to see how she has grown up or changed during the extended break. I won’t be able to stand next to the parade ring on Monday, but I will surely be watching her very closely on my screen, and hope to see something very positive.

Laurent Barbarin's French Classics horses to follow
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