English trainers don’t have an excellent record in the Prix de Diane and their participation in this year’s renewal is disappointing, with just John Gosden and Roger Varian having one runner apiece. For all they can be both backed at double-figure odds, they aren’t too far behind the main protagonists on form achieved, and therefore shouldn’t be ruled out too quickly.
The well-related Entitle – a half-sister to the top-class Enable – represents John Gosden, and has progressed significantly with each start to date, leaving a subdued debut effort well behind when winning a minor event at Lingfield in December. That form is nothing to write home about, but her latest effort when narrowly denied by the Roger Varian-trained Nausha (beaten a neck in second) in the Musidora Stakes at York last time marks her down as a potentially smart filly. She seemingly had no excuses that day, still running green in stages, but always better positioned than Nausha and she isn’t sure to reverse the form.
Nausha has also had just the three starts so far in her career, running to a useful level for a juvenile when making a winning debut at Kempton in October. As a result, she was a warm order for a minor event over the same C&D on her return in April, but for whatever reason she failed to meet expectations, only able to finish fourth beaten five lengths. It didn’t take her long to get firmly back on track, though, proving her stamina for the longer trip and showing a good attitude to prevail in the Musidora last time. Nausha was confidently ridden that day (hit a high of 1000/1 on Betfair), but found plenty to win and was always doing enough once hitting the front, so there should be even more to come.
However, both English runners will have to improve some to overhaul the hot favourite Siyarafina, who has looked something out of the ordinary in winning all three of her starts so far. She barely had to come off the bridle to beat Commes in a one-mile listed race at Longchamp in April, and progressed again to open her account at the highest level in the Prix Saint-Alary back at Longchamp last time, again just under a hands-and-heels ride. Siyarafina looks a most exciting prospect, certainly the best of her generation in her native France, and she will continue to take all the beating, almost certain to make significant improvement again.
Her closest pursuer in the betting market is Commes, who was no match for her over a mile on her reappearance, but Jean Claude Rouget’s filly showed much improved form when again filling the runner-up spot in the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches at Longchamp last time, beaten a nose by the Coronation Stakes bound Castle Lady. Commes was notably strong at the finish on that occasion, closing all the way on the inner, leaving the impression she could improve further now tacking a mile and a quarter, something which her pedigree also backs up; out of a winner up to a mile and a quarter.
Rouget is also responsible for Etoile, who has won three of her four starts this year, progressing on each occasion. She met with defeat for the first time when beaten a neck in second by Platane in the Prix Vanteaux at Longchamp in April, and didn’t need to improve on that effort to quickly resume winning ways in the Prix Cleopatre at Saint-Cloud last time, produced to lead two furlongs out and pushed out to score by one and three quarter lengths. Etoile will have to progress again to be competitive in this field, but that isn’t out of the question, and it would be folly to ignore her claims.
In summary, it is very hard to see past the claims of Siyarafina, who has carried all before her in her three career starts, still leaving the impression there is much more to come when coasting to success last time. She is strongly fancied to record a second Group 1 success, for a trainer that has won this race six times, the first coming back in 1993. Commes looks the obvious danger now stepping up in trip, but Nausha and Entitle could offer more each-way value, both of whom remain with their best days ahead of them.
Back Siyarafina at 6/4 in the Prix de Diane at Chantilly on Sunday