Sky Sports Racing ambassador Hollie Doyle renews her partnership with French Oaks heroine Nashwa in the Prix de l’Opera at Longchamp on Sunday but first heads to Wolverhampton on Saturday night.
Nashwa in great form after Newmarket workout
The beautiful Nashwa is back in action on Sunday when she attempts to win her third consecutive Group One on a stellar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe day at ParisLongchamp.
Imad Alsagar’s daughter of Frankel runs in the Prix de l’Opera Longines (3.50) over ten furlongs – her first start since winning the Nassau Stakes so decisively over the same trip at the Goodwood Festival two months ago.
This will be her second foray to France after her game victory in the French Oaks, the Prix de Diane Longines, at Chantilly back in June.
I put Nashwa through her final paces behind a lead horse on the Round Gallop at Newmarket the other day and she felt as good as ever. John and Thady Gosden have done a great job with her to keep her so fresh and well.
On form, she’s the one they all have to beat, and as long as the ground doesn’t go too deep I’ve got every confidence in her pulling it off.
Sprint Queen can reign supreme
Following such a brave performance for me in the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes at York I’m thrilled to get back on The Platinum Queen in the Prix de l’Abbaye Longines at Longchamp on Sunday.
Just like at York, it’s a big ask for a two-year-old taking on older, stronger sprinters at the highest level but she gave subsequent Group 1 winner Highfield Princess a scare and is well worth her place in an open renewal.
Richard Fahey’s filly, who was second in the Flying Childers against her own age group last time, has a decent middle draw and a light weight and should be effective on the soft ground as long as it doesn’t get too demanding.
Luxembourg has all the Arc credentials
I’d love to see Sir Mark Prescott’s wonderful mare Alpinista win the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (3.05) on Sunday for her owner-breeder Kirsten Rausing. What a great experience it’s going to be for her regular rider Luke Morris.
However, I expect a big run from Aidan O’Brien’s Irish Champion Stakes winner Luxembourg, who has all the credentials to win this great race. Aidan and his jockey Ryan Moore have always held this colt in the highest regard.
He’s been brilliantly handled and looks like he’s just reaching his peak at the right time. The forecast soft ground won’t hold any fears for the son of Camelot, who steps up to 12 furlongs for the first time but is bred to appreciate every yard of it and certainly has the gears to deliver a power-packed finish.
Icon pick of the seven Wolves rides
Before I can focus on winning the Prix de l’Opera on Nashwa, I’m heading to Wolverhampton on Saturday night for seven rides on the Tapeta, including What An Icon in the bet365 Nursery (5.30).
Mick Channon’s filly makes her handicap debut off a modest mark after finishing a well-beaten third in a 7f maiden at Brighton in August.
The step up to the extended mile should bring out significant improvement in the daughter of Sixties Icon, so I’m hopeful of getting off to the best possible start.
Wide draws a negative for trio
James Ferguson’s Impeachment has an outstanding form chance in the Price Promise At bet365 Nursery (6.30), but there’s one big problem – the draw!
This improving daughter of Showcasing is stuck out wide in stall 10, which is far from ideal over 5f. She’s sharp enough from the gates, which might help her overcome it, and remains well treated on a mark of 75, but will need plenty of luck from there.
The draw has also been unkind to Archie Watson’s Emperor Spirit in the bet365 Handicap (7.30). He’s posted out in stall 12 in the six-furlong feature, which makes him a hostage to fortune in such a competitive race on this sharp, turning track.
Emperor Spirit does have winning form at Wolverhampton and has run some nice races in defeat on turf this summer, though he didn’t see it out from a prominent position in the Ayr Silver Cup last time.
Stall 12 is also the starting position for Saeed Bin Suroor’s Chief Of Staff in the Bet Boost At bet365 Handicap (7.00).
He’s only gone up 2lb for his hard-fought win on the Polytrack at Lingfield last week, but again it won’t be easy to get competitive from out there.
Universe open to improvement
Charlie and Mark Johnston’s Blue Universe is open to considerable improvement in the bet365 Novice Stakes (6.00) at Wolverhampton.
This Iffraaj colt was an eye-catcher on debut at Kempton last week, running on well in the closing stages of a 7f novice stakes. With natural progression, he can make his presence felt for a top stable over a similar trip.
I’m also hopeful of a bold show from Phil Kirby’s sweet filly Peripeteia in the first leg of the Each Way Extra At bet365 Handicap (8.00).
I won on her for George Boughey at Chelmsford City before Christmas and Phil has done well with her this summer, too. She tries hard and should appreciate the extended nine furlongs.
Happy with unlucky Tempus
Tempus was a shade unlucky not to win last week’s Group Two Joel Stakes at Newmarket but remains on course for a crack at the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on Champions’ Day next month.
He had to wait for a run after being stuck near the far rail, which wasn’t ideal, but still proved he was up to winning at that level following back-to-back successes in Group Threes.
Archie Watson will now train Hambleton Racing’s star for Champions’ Day at Ascot, where he’s already proven his effectiveness, and it’ll be fascinating to see how he acquits himself at the highest level.