Alain: Sarafina in need of run
ALAIN de Royer-Dupre has warned Sarafina is not at the peak of her powers ahead of tomorrow's Qatar Prix Foy at Longchamp.
The four-year-old was an unlucky third in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe over course and distance last October, and Europe's premier middle-distance prize is firmly on her agenda again.
She has done nothing wrong so far this year, building on an encouraging comeback second to Planteur with two successes at Saint-Cloud.
But the latest of those victories, in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, was back in June, and her trainer believes his star filly will improve significantly for this weekend's run.
"She is OK, but this is only preparation for the big race and she is not at her peak fitness," warned Royer-Dupre.
"I have been very happy with her this season and she has had a nice break since her last run at Saint-Cloud.
"She is in good form but she always needs her first run after a break, so I would expect her to improve. This is a trial."
Just four runners go to post, with Aidan O'Brien's St Nicholas Abbey joined by Japanese-trained pair of Hiruno D'Amour and last year's Arc runner-up Nakayama Festa. Shingo Soma, from the Japan Racing Association, said: "Both horses had their final preparations for the trial in Chantilly and their trainers are very happy."
Galikova aims to open her account at the highest level and book her place in the Arc field in the Qatar Prix Vermeille.
Although narrowly beaten when favourite for the Prix de Diane, Freddie Head's filly oozed class when scoring at Deauville last time.
"I hope she can run well and I hope she can win, but it is a good race," said Head. "I think she will get the distance well and the ground should not be a problem, so we will see.
"If she can win, then the Arc would be a possibility, of course."
Royer-Dupre is represented in the Vermeille by recent Deauville winner Shareta, but he believes Galikova is likely to prove too strong. He said: "I hope she can run well but Galikova is going to be very difficult to beat."
Six runners have been declared for the Vermeille, with Wonder Of Wonders representing O'Brien.
The third major trial is the Qatar Prix Niel, in which Andre Fabre's Grand Prix de Paris winner Meandre takes top billing.
Fabre also saddles King Of Arnor in the Niel, while Royer-Dupre is represented by Reliable Man and Vadamar.
He said: "Reliable Man is very well and I hope there is more rain for him."
Completing a six-runner field is John Gosden's Colombian and the third potential Arc runner for Japan, Nakayama Knight.