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Prix Jacques le Marois Preview: Snow the way to go

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Ben Fearnley previews the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville on Sunday and picks out a bet.

Outside of the classics, Godolphin have been enjoying a very fruitful time of things at Group 1 level in France so far this season, taking the Prix Ganay (Cloth of Stars), Prix Saint-Alary (Sobetsu) and Prix Jean Prat (Thunder Snow) so far. They won the Prix Jacques le Marois with Ribchester last season (his first win at the highest level) and run two in this year’s race, headed by Prix Jean Prat winner Thunder Snow.

Thunder Snow may be best remembered for his bizarre display in the Kentucky Derby in May (started bucking and kicking as soon as he left the stalls) but he became a dual Group 1 winner when beating four rivals (including the re-opposing Gold Luck and Trais Fluors) at Chantilly in last month’s Prix Jean Prat and there have been no signs of his temperament resurfacing. He seemed suited by dominating last time and will probably get an easy lead again here, so is respected. Godolphin’s other runner Inns of Court, trained by Andre Fabre, has won his last two starts at Group 3 level since finishing sixth in the Poule d'Essai des Poulains, and looks worth a go back in this grade, for all that another step forward will be required for him to get involved.

Fabre is set to saddle half of six-strong the field, including Al Shaqab’s Al Wukair, who sets the standard on his third to Churchill in the 2000 Guineas. Al Wukair had come from the back to take the Prix Djebel at Maisons-Laffitte on his return and similar tactics let him down in the Guineas, having been caught too far back to land a blow on Churchill. He had been an intended runner in the Prix du Jockey Club but after failing to please his trainer at home, missed the race, showing up in the Group 3 Prix Messidor 11 weeks on from Newmarket instead. Al Wukair was possibly in need of the run given the gap between his races, but it was still a little disappointing that he was unable to reel in the four-year-old Taareef, who is set to re-oppose on Sunday. Taareef’s profile is one of steady progression, though, reappearing with a career-best win in the Prix Bertrand du Breuil at Chantilly before improving again to beat Al Wukair, and he looks well worth another try at Group 1 level.

This looks a tight and potentially tactical affair in which it is hard to fancy the held-up Al Wukair at current odds of around 6/4, for all that he is probably the most interesting horse in the race. Taareef and Thunder Snow are likely to be ridden closer to the pace and should be seen to better effect in this scenario. Of the two, Thunder Snow makes slightly more appeal at current odds of around 5/1.

Timeform Ratings:

Al Wukair 134

Taareef 133

Thunder Snow 131

Trais Fluors 128p

Inns of Court 126

Gold Luck 125

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NAVAN 1:20

Sunday 17 December
7. DIAMOND CAUCHOIS (FR) 159
Davy Russell silk Davy Russell horse in focus
Gordon Elliott, Ireland
11. RACING PULSE (IRE) 158
D. J. Mullins silk D. J. Mullins
W. P. Mullins, Ireland hot trainer
8. DRUMACOO (IRE) 157+
Barry Geraghty silk Barry Geraghty
M. Hourigan, Ireland
NT
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