Dubai: Team Godolphin look well equipped to secure their first international Group 1 victory of the season when they saddle a pair of strong contenders in the highly-anticipated French Guineas meeting at Longchamp Racecourse on Sunday.
The Dubai-owned operation are responsible for Wootton, the favourite in the €600,000 Emirates Poule d’Essai des Poulains (Group 1 colts) and the strongly fancied Musis Amica in the €500,000 Emirates Poule d’Essai des Pouliches (Group 1 fillies) for 3-year-old fillies.
Both contests are the equivalent of the 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas, which were run at Newmarket, England, earlier this month.
Godolphin are looking for a fourth victory in the Emirates Poule d’Essai des Poulains following the success of Shamardal (2005), Bachir (2000) and Vettori (1995).
The stable’s founder, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, also won the race as an individual owner in 1987 with Soviet Star, an outstanding sprinter-miler who won 8 of his 14 career starts.
An unbeaten son of Wootton Bassett, Wootton will be ridden by Godolphin’s retained French jockey, Mickael Barzalona for trainer Henri Alex Pantall.
The trainer told the Godolphin website: “Wootton is in top order. He worked very well on Tuesday and he has improved at home since his prep race [G3 Prix de Fontainebleau]. I couldn’t be happier with him.
“He appears to be at his optimum racing weight.”
The colt faces 10 rivals, including the 2017 Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes winner US Navy Flag and Olmedo, who has placed in Group company on his three last outings.
Legendary French handler Andre Fabre is optimistic that Musis Amica can give Godolphin a maiden success in the fillies’ race, the Emirates Poule d’Essai des Pouliches.
“She comes into the race in great form,” Fabre said. “She is a progressive filly, who handles the track well.
“She lacks a bit of experience compared to some of the others, but she should give a good account of herself,” he added.
The French Classics return to Paris’s historic racecourse, Longchamp, following a two-year absence while construction of a new grandstand was carried out. The last two runnings of both the French 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas took place at Deauville.
Abu Dhabi Sports Council, in keeping with the UAE leadership’s vision to develop sport and youth activities, are the sponsors. The partnership between France Galop and Abu Dhabi Sports Council will also see the Coupe d’Europe des Chevaux Arabes, a Group 1 race for Purebred Arabians also staged on the Guineas card.
The total prize money for the event, which forms part of The President of the UAE Cup series, an International Challenge for Purebred Arabians, has been increased from €30,000 to €100,000.
At a glance
What: French Guineas meeting
When: Sunday, May 13 at Longchamp Racecourse
Time: 5.35pm (UAE) Emirates Poule d’Essai des Poulains (G1) 3yo colts 1 mile.
6.15pm (UAE) Emirates Ooule d’Essai des Pouliches (G1)3yo fillies 1 mile.
Live coverage: Dubai Racing Channel & Yas TV