Jean-Claude Rouget, Andre Fabre and Alain de Royer Dupre have between them won the G1 Prix de Diane (2100m) 14 times and these great French trainers all have live chances of enhancing their respective tallies in Sunday’s (20 June) French fillies’ Classic at Chantilly.
Rouget – with four Diane wins – hopes that Coeursamba can supplement her shock victory in last month’s G1 Poule d’Essai des Pouliches (1600m). The 68-year-old trainer described that Longchamp Classic win as ‘a very pleasant surprise’ and one suspects it will be at least as pleasantly surprising to Rouget if this daughter of The Wow Signal strikes again over the much more demanding 10 and a half furlongs at Chantilly.
He says: "She showed double acceleration at Longchamp and you associate that with good horses but I believe that the 1600 (metres) distance is her trip. However there is only one Prix de Diane and the prize money for the places is good also."
Coeursamba will be having her ninth career start whereas it is just the fourth for Rouget’s other contender Light Stars who surged from last to first to win the Listed Prix Caravelle (2100m) at Toulouse in April. Rouget says: "I wanted to keep some freshness in her so I haven’t run her again, but she is a rather promising filly."
Fabre, also with four Prix de Diane wins, may run Burgarita, Harajuku and Philomene and ratings suggest that the latter – a €1.625 million (approx. HK$15.08 million) purchase – could be the most potent. This daughter of Dubawi lost her unbeaten record when two and three quarter lengths sixth to Coeursamba in the Pouliches but she didn’t have a perfect trip and the most accomplished trainer in French racing history has spoken positively about the sort of stamina test that the Diane offers.
Alain de Royer Dupre’s modern-day record of six Prix de Diane winners were all owned by the Aga Khan as is Khalidiya, easy winner of a 2000m maiden at Longchamp last month. It would not be the first time that owner and trainer won the Diane with a filly having such an unexposed profile as this daughter of Oasis Dream.
Other big stories in the race would emerge from victories either by the supplemented Sibila Spain, flying home in fourth to Incarville (also Prix de Diane-bound) after a tricky passage in last month’s G1 Prix Saint-Alary (2000m) at Longchamp, or Natsukashi.
Sibila Spain is handled by Christopher Head – the latest training incarnation of a racing dynasty – his father the great jockey and trainer Freddie with his aunt being Criquette – trainer of the mighty Treve whose many accomplishments included victory in the 2013 Prix de Diane.
In the wider world headlines would be made in the Classic by triumph on Sunday for runaway 2400m Chantilly maiden winner Natsukashi. Trainer Philippe Decouz says: "Natsukashi will be an outsider, but she deserves her place and is in superb condition."