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French Preview: An Intellogent bet

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Nic Doggett previews the Prix Jacques le Marois which takes place at Deauville on Sunday, and picks out a 9/1 alternative to hot favourite Alpha Centauri.

As Jamie Lynch touches upon in his weekly column, Sunday’s Prix Jacques la Marois at Deauville is a race with plenty of history. Named after the course’s former president, the race was originally restricted to three-year-olds in its formative years. After wartime spells at Maisons-Laffitte and Longchamp, the race returned to the no-longer-German-occupied Deauville in 1946, and was subsequently opened to horses aged four or older in 1952.

However, this year’s renewal is all about the classic generation, led by Alpha Centauri who is owned by the Niarchos family. The significance? The Niarchos family also own the Fresnay-le-Buffard stud, sponsors of the race since 1986 and owners of the winning horse on eight occasions. Can the Jessica Harrington-trained Alpha Centauri provide them with their ninth, some 15 years after Six Perfections won as a three-year-old?

The obvious answer is yes. Alpha Centauri is a high-class performer who won the Irish 1000 Guineas at the Curragh in May and the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot (by six lengths from Threading) in June. She then completed a Group 1 hat-trick in the Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket last time by four and a half lengths from Altyn Orda, clearly unfazed and untroubled by her older rivals as she tanked along in front before quickening clear over two furlongs out.

In terms of ratings, that performance put her in the same bracket as dual Falmouth winner Soviet Song (126 at her peak), and it’s no surprise that connections have taken the next logical step to test her against the male milers in this race – a contest that both her granddam East of The Moon and great-grandam Miesque won – rather than the Matron Stakes or Sun Chariot Stakes, both more conventional routes.

 

Talking of routes, the Jacques la Marois is part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series, a number of races which guarantee the winner a berth at Churchill Downs in November. A win here would give Alpha Centauri a free shot at the Breeders’ Cup Mile, a race won by Miesque (twice), Six Perfections, and another former Niarchos-owned Jacques la Marois winner Spinning World, as well as dual runner-up Domedriver.

One horse who already has a golden ticket for Kentucky is the Queen Anne Stakes winner Accidental Agent. A very smart performer, he is considered by some (including his trainer Eve Johnson Houghton) as something of an Ascot straight-mile specialist; he won the seven-furlong Challenge Cup (by half a length from Lord Glitters) there in 2017 and produced a clear career-best effort when beating the same rival by the same distance in the Queen Anne. Though it was a below-par renewal and he was possibly helped by the way the race developed, with a strong pace playing to his strengths, it would be folly to underestimate him here, especially after the third Lightning Spear’s subsequent Sussex Stakes-winning exploits at Goodwood.

Recoletos wasn't disgraced in seventh behind Accident Agent at Royal Ascot, though his effort was a bit of a damp squib, at no stage threatening after being edgy and sweating beforehand. He had previously won the Prix du Muguet at Saint-Cloud and Prix d'Ispahan at Longchamp (by one and three quarter lengths from Almodovar) in May and remains capable of better if more settled back on home soil at a course with more class than razzamatazz, though it’s worth noting that he was also well below form on his sole visit here.

In contrast, With You is clearly at home at this seaside venue. A winner here as a two-year-old, she duly built on two excellent runs over further behind Laurens (Prix Saint-Alary and Prix de Diane) when providing her trainer Freddy Head with a record-equalling fifth win in the Prix Rothschild over C&D last month. She clearly has more on her plate here - tasked with beating colts, older horses and the best miler in training - for the first time, but her prominent style of racing could lend her an advantage once more, and she looks a legitimate danger to Alpha Centauri with more improvement to come.

Similar comments apply to Intellogent. A son of the slow-burning sire Intello, out of a half-sister to Oaks d'Italia winner Night of Magic and the dam of Deutsches Derby winner Nutan, it’s no real surprise that Intellogent’s career has been one of steady progression. He ran well when a close fourth of 16 to Study of Man in the Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly and improved again when winning the Prix Jean Prat over C&D (by a short neck from Cascadian) last time.

Cascadian is bred to stay further than this trip, but is very much on the right path and his previous beating of Tigre du Terre at Maisons-Laffitte is working out well. As well as Cascadian, Andre Fabre also saddles last year’s fourth Trais Fluors, but his form this season leaves him with plenty to find.

The older French horses Zalamea and Noor Al Hawa both look up against it, whilst the field is completed by the Ken Condon-trained pair Success Days and Romanised. The latter, winner of the Irish 2000 Guineas (by two and a quarter lengths from subsequent July Cup winner U S Navy Flag), is the most interesting, though he will need to bounce back from a modest effort behind Without Parole in the St James’s Palace Stakes last time, where he was always on the back foot after another slow start.

Conclusion

The hugely impressive Alpha Centauri is clear on weight-adjusted Timeform ratings, and deservedly heads the betting. She’s only disappointed twice, but both were on testing ground after significant absences, and she should be spot on after a month off on this good ground. However, she’s taking on colts for the first time and there could be some value in an each-way bet on Intellogent at around 9/1. He has a high cruising speed and picked up well when beating Cascadian in the Prix Jean Prat, a race in which he may not have been favoured by racing down the middle late on, and is the sort to improve again here.

Recommended bet:

Back Intellogent each-way in Sunday’s Prix Jacques le Marois at 9/1

 

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LINGFIELD PARK 14:30

Friday 18 January
5. SHAMSHON (IRE) 120
Nicola Currie silk Nicola Currie
Stuart Williams
3. GORGEOUS NOORA (IRE) 119
Hollie Doyle silk Hollie Doyle horse in focus
Archie Watson hot trainer
4. WATCHABLE 119
Joe Fanning silk Joe Fanning
David O'Meara
Go to Full Race

LATEST HORSE RACING RESULTS

19:25 NEWCASTLE

1st Robert Winston silk 5. ARCHIMEDES (IRE) 5/16
2nd Joe Fanning silk nk 4. CUPPACOCO 10/111
3rd Jason Hart silk nk 8. STEELRIVER (IRE) 6/17
11 ran. NRs: 3 
FULL RESULT

18:55 NEWCASTLE

1st Cam Hardie silk 8. ANOTHER ANGEL (IRE) 5/16
2nd Ben Robinson silk ¾ 4. AMAZING GRAZING (IRE) 16/117
3rd Eoin Walsh silk 1 10. FIRST EXCEL 6/17
J: Cam Hardie  
10 ran. NRs: 6 
FULL RESULT

18:25 NEWCASTLE

1st Harry Russell silk 1. DANDY HIGHWAYMAN (IRE) 11/112
2nd C. J. McGovern silk ns 3. KEN'S SAM'S (IRE) 9/43.25f
3rd Callum Rodriguez silk 5. ASTROPHYSICS 9/110
J: Harry Russell (7)  
T: Ollie Pears  
All 13 ran.
FULL RESULT

17:55 NEWCASTLE

1st Luke Morris silk 3. GLORY OF PARIS (IRE) 11/102.1f
2nd Cam Hardie silk ½ 1. FAYEZ (IRE) 5/23.5
J: Luke Morris  
All 5 ran.
FULL RESULT

17:25 NEWCASTLE

1st Joe Fanning silk 6. DAWN DELIGHT 11/43.75
2nd Luke Morris silk 2. MASTER DIVER 10/34.33
J: Joe Fanning  
T: Hugo Palmer  
7 ran. NRs: 1 
FULL RESULT

16:55 NEWCASTLE

1st P. J. McDonald silk 7. RICH APPROACH (IRE) 13/82.62f
2nd Joe Fanning silk 4. AXEL JACKLIN 15/28.5
3rd C. J. McGovern silk 1. BERYL THE PETAL (IRE) 7/24.5
All 8 ran.
FULL RESULT

16:25 NEWCASTLE

1st Joe Fanning silk 4. MISS BATES 9/25.5
2nd Robert Havlin silk 3. IRISH TIMES 12/113
3rd Phil Dennis silk 8. HARBOUR PATROL (IRE) 20/121
J: Joe Fanning  
T: Ann Duffield  
13 ran. NRs: 5 
FULL RESULT

16:10 WINCANTON

1st Chester Williams silk 8. FAIRE PART SIVOLA (FR) 3/14
2nd Harry Cobden silk 2. GOLDEN GIFT (IRE) 9/43.25f
3rd David Bass silk ¾ 6. SADLERMOR (IRE) 11/26.5
J: Chester Williams (7)  
9 ran. NRs: 1 
FULL RESULT

16:00 LUDLOW

1st Bridget Andrews silk 5. GETARIVER (IRE) 4/15
2nd Wayne Hutchinson silk 8 6. PERFECT PREDATOR 7/18
T: Dan Skelton  
All 6 ran.
FULL RESULT
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