Ken Condon believes Romanised is at the top of his game ahead of his return to France for the Prix du Moulin at ParisLongchamp on Sunday.
A surprise winner of last year’s Irish 2,000 Guineas, the son of Holy Roman Emperor struggled to make a significant impact during the remainder of his three-year-old campaign, but has really found his stride this season.
Following fine efforts in defeat in the Lockinge at Newbury and the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot, Condon’s charge rediscovered the winning trail in the Group Two Minstrel Stakes at the Curragh before doubling his top-level tally in the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville.
With stable companion Success Days for company once again, Romanised crosses the Channel for another Group One assignment this weekend, and his trainer is relishing the challenge.
“He seems very well. We’ve had four weeks since the Marois and we think he’s going back to France in very similar condition,” said the Rathbride-based trainer.
“Longchamp presents a different test, but we’re very happy with him and it looks as though the ground will be somewhere near good, which is very important to this horse. We didn’t want to wait until October, when the ground might have gone against him.
“As I say, this will be a different test to Deauville, but we’re just concentrating on trying to get the best out of our horse on the day and we’ll see where that takes us.”
Irish hopes are also carried by the Aidan O’Brien-trained Circus Maximus.
The St James’s Palace Stakes winner and Sussex Stakes runner-up returns to a mile after fading out of contention over a mile and a quarter in the Juddmonte International at York on his latest outing.
A four-strong British challenge is made up of the Charlie Hills-trained Phoenix Of Spain, Charlie Appleby’s Line Of Duty, Harry Dunlop’s stable star Robin Of Navan and Kick On from John Gosden’s yard.
Phoenix Of Spain kicked off his campaign with a superb front-running victory in the Irish Guineas, but has since failed to run up to expectations at Royal Ascot and Goodwood.
“I made the decision to run him and I’ve been really happy with him the last few weeks,” said Hills.
“Jamie (Spencer) came down and sat on him last week and he was happy as well. It looks like a race we should be in.”
Line Of Duty was beaten just over a length into third place by Romanised in the Marois and renews rivalry.
Appleby said: “It was a very good run at Deauville on what his first start over a mile this year.
“He’s up against the first and the second from the Marois, so he’s got that gap to close, but we’ve been very happy with him since and a bit of rain wouldn’t do him any harm.”
Robin Of Navan steps back up in grade after winning a Group Two in Germany.
“He has been ticking along nicely and we are pleased with him. We put the cheekpieces on him in Germany and it seemed to really sharpen him up and he adored that race,” said Dunlop.
“I know the quality of that race is not as good as the Moulin, but we have Christophe Soumillon booked to ride and fingers crossed the old boy will do himself proud.”
Kick On was last seen winning the Group Three Sovereign Stakes at Salisbury, and Gosden said: “There is not really a Group Two for him, so we thought we would roll the dice in a Group One.
“He ran well in the Guineas. It was good to see him get his head back in front at Salisbury and that would have done his confidence good.”
The field is completed by last year’s French 2000 Guineas hero Olmedo (Jean-Claude Rouget), Marois runner-up Shaman (Carlos Laffon-Parias) and the Prince Khalid Abdullah-owned pair of Obligate (Pascal Bary) and Delaware (Andre Fabre).
Obligate won his first three starts before finishing third behind the six-times Group One winner Laurens in the Prix Rothschild in Deauville, while Delaware steps up in class following Listed and Group Three wins on his last couple of appearances.
Fabre said: “He is progressing well, but this is a big step up for him. I’m hoping he’ll run well, but we’ll see how he gets on.
“He’s related to Byword so I know the family – he’s a strong horse.
“We’re just hoping for good ground. He won on soft last time, but he’s better on good.”
Elsewhere on the card, Appleby’s Al Dabaran puts his unbeaten record on the line in the Group Three Prix des Chenes.
An impressive winner on his debut at Newmarket, the son of Dubawi followed up in the Listed Pat Eddery Stakes at Ascot in late July and goes in search of the hat-trick this weekend.
“He’s in good order and we’re looking forward to stepping him up to the mile,” said Appleby of his charge, who is a general 33-1 chance for Classic honours next year.
“The pace angle might be the worry – we might have to make our own pace. We’ll see how it goes.
“Hopefully this is a nice progression for him before we look at mile-and-a-quarter and even mile-and-a-half races for him next year.”