Much like last Sunday’s Prix Jean Prat at Deauville, the Grand Prix de Paris is often an attainable Group 1 for those horses who may not spend the rest of their careers at the very top table. The last two renewals – won by Mont Ormel (2016) and Shakeel (2017) - were held at Saint-Cloud whilst the race’s permanent home underwent its redevelopment and subsequent branding to ParisLongchamp.
Juddmonte began their sponsorship of the race in 2001 and have won it on three occasions since, with Rail Link (2006), Zambezi Sun (2007) and, most recently, Flintshire (2013). Unfortunately, the famous green, pink and white silks of Juddmonte owner Prince Khalid Abdullah will not be represented in this year’s renewal; instead, there’s likely to be a mini-invasion of the O’Brien family, with Kew Gardens and Nelson both engaged for father Aidan, and Downdraft entered for son Joseph.
Kew Gardens won twice at two, including the listed Zetland Stakes at Newmarket (by three and a half lengths from Dee Ex Bee) last October. He put a disappointing effort in the Derby behind him when producing a career-best effort to win the Queen's Vase at Royal Ascot last time by four and a half lengths from Southern France (Ballysax Stakes winner Nelson only third, ridden too aggressively), leading approaching the final furlong and staying on strongly. He’s open to further improvement, though we may not see the very best of him until he’s back up in trip (will stay two miles-plus).
Downdraft won a competitive 1¼m handicap at Navan in June but couldn’t improve on that when seven and a half lengths sixth of 18 to Baghdad in the King George V Stakes (handicap) at Royal Ascot, not ideally placed. His trainer Joseph O’Brien - who won the Irish Derby with Latrobe - has a knack of pulling a rabbit out of the hat in big races, but this looks a tough task.
The very smart Dee Ex Bee produced a clear career-best performance when second in the Derby at Epsom (one and a half lengths behind Masar) in June but was disappointing when five lengths seventh to Latrobe in the Irish Derby last time. He will stay 1¾m (lack of tactical speed cruelly exposed at the Curragh) and usually responds generously to pressure, so may be ridden more aggressively here.
The two domestic runners don’t suggest that the three-year-old mile and half division in France is a strong one. However, both have an upwardly mobile profile. Neufbosc followed his listed race at the track with success in the Group 3 Prix du Lys (by one and three quarter lengths from Mahoe), both over C&D in May. He should progress further, but that form doesn’t look anything special, with the third and fifth both well beaten since.
The slow-burning Folamour represents Andre Fabre, who is a 13-time winner of this race, but the Intello colt will need to take a big step forward from his maiden win last month to feature prominently here. Having said that, similar comments applied to Cascadian who was only beaten a short-neck by Intellogent (another by the same sire) in the Jean Prat.
A very disappointing turnout. Dee Ex Bee has the best timefigure, and is well clear on ratings, however there’s a nagging doubt that he has been a long way off the form of his Derby second in his three others starts this season. Kew Gardens appeared to improve for the longer trip when running away with the Queen’s Vase last time, but as long as he’s granted a strong gallop he can progress again to confirm last year’s HQ beating of Dee Ex Bee.
Kew Gardens to win Saturday’s Grand Prix de Paris at 2/1