Frankie Dettori believes he has a great opportunity to win the Prix de Diane Longines for a third time when he partners Luminate at Chantilly on Sunday.
The top jockey knows what it takes to claim the French version of the Oaks, having been successful with West Wind (2007) and Star Of Seville (2015), and he has high hopes for Luminate.
“I think that Luminate has a first-class chance in a very open race,” said Dettori.
“Freddy (Head, trainer) is a dab-hand when it comes to training fillies as he invariably gets them in tip-top condition. They also go into the race ‘fresh’ which is essential in a race such as the Prix de Diane.
“The devil really is in the detail which can boil down to the having the best trip during the race, or the progress that these fillies are capable of making on the big occasion.”
Luminate, who is owned by Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, is unlucky not to be going into the race unbeaten.
Winner of her first three starts, Luminate was second past the post in the Prix Cleopatre after struggling to get a run but was demoted to fifth following a stewards’ inquiry with Castellar, who reopposes, taking the prize.
“Luminate was unlucky last time and she certainly stays this trip,” said Dettori.
“She has an advantage compared to the foreign fillies in that she is playing ‘at home’. As the travel factor, taking into account above all the heat, is never an easy bridge to overcome.”
Harry Herbert, Highclere’s racing manager, is also going into the race with some confidence.
“We feel she may be better over further and should stay a mile and a half. She’s joint top on official ratings for the race,” he said.
Head has another leading fancy in With You, who was only beaten a short head by Laurens in the Prix Saint-Alary at ParisLongchamp last month.
Laurens had to do most of the donkey work that day and rallied after being headed over a furlong out to get back up close home to land the Group One spoils.
Trainer Karl Burke is hoping there will be a stronger gallop to assist his filly this time.
“If they go a good gallop and we can get on a nice, even keel sat handy, that would be perfect,” the North Yorkshire handler told At The Races.
“We’ve already had a look at a mile and two and this gives us another opportunity, hopefully in a truer run race, to see how she’s finishing her race out.
“I’d be very surprised if we don’t give her a go at some stage over a mile and a half, whether it’s the Irish Oaks or the Yorkshire Oaks. We’ll be dictated by how well she comes out of this race.”
Aidan O’Brien relies on Happily, who was third in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket, half a length behind Laurens. The daughter of Galileo has since filled the same position in the Irish equivalent.
The Aga Khan has an interesting contender in Shahnaza, who has won both her starts this season for trainer Alain Royer-Dupre, while Prix Saint Alary third Soustraction is one of two runners for Carlos Laffon-Parais along with Castellar.