Aidan O’Brien’s Kyprios will look to cement his claims as the dominant force in the staying division in the Qatar Prix du Cadran at Longchamp on Saturday, live on Sky Sports Racing.
The Galileo colt has been all-conquering this term, winning all five of his starts and scoring a Group One hat-trick that included the Gold Cup at Ascot, the Goodwood Cup and the Irish St Leger.
The turf in Paris is likely to be soft with more rain due, but the chestnut has encountered testing going before and his trainer is hopeful he will not be hindered.
“Obviously his last run was at the Curragh and he seems to have come out of that well,” said O’Brien. “I think it might be the softest ground he’s run on for a while, but he did run on very soft ground as a two-year-old. He has form on soft ground, but he is a good mover, so hopefully it’s not too soft.
“He’s only a four-year-old and this year is the first time he’s run at Cup distances. We think he is still improving.”
Hughie Morrison’s Quickthorn has won his last three races, most recently landing the Lonsdale Cup at York but he does have winning course form to his name in the Prix Maurice de Nieuil.
“He stays two miles but whether he will get two and half on this ground, against better opposition, is an unknown,” said Morrison. “We’re happy with him, we wouldn’t be taking him otherwise. He seems fine but it’s always difficult to tell with horses at this time of year so I am nervous.”
Brian Ellison’s Tashkhan is set to run under Ben Robinson having raced on unsuitably quick ground all season.
“Ben (Robinson) is going over to ride him and we’ve put cheekpieces on him,” the trainer said. “We worked him in a pair and he worked very well in them. They’re just to help the jockey really as he’s really laid-back, nothing more than that.
“He gets the trip well, the favourite (Kyprios) will take all the beating again, but we were only five-lengths behind him on fast ground and it’s not beyond the realms to get closer to him on soft ground.”
Tony Mullins’ Princess Zoe won the race on heavy ground in 2020 and was sixth in the Irish St Leger on her last start, the fourth run of a domestic campaign that began with a Sagaro Stakes victory over Quickthorn in April.
“We’ve had an interrupted season with her, she’s been coming in and out of season a lot more than usual and I put it down to the very warm summer,” he said. “She seems fine now, and that is giving me belief she can be better than she was in the Irish Leger.
“I’m under no illusions, Kyprios is a superstar, he’s versatile over ground and trip, he’s bred to be a champion and he is.
“I don’t feel unfortunate that she’s been around in an era of Trueshan, Kyprios and Stradivarius, we feel very lucky and she’s definitely a Group One horse, we’ve loved every minute.”