Malabar – 2.45 Chantilly (Sun)
Sunday’s Prix De Diane Longines (French Oaks) at Chantilly could well be at the mercy of the Freddy Head-trained favourite Queen’s Jewel who may turn out to be in a different class to her 16 rivals. The unbeaten daughter of Pivotal’s form looks easily the best on offer, but at odds as short as 6-4 the mount of Maxime Guyon is worth opposing having been allocated the worst draw of all on the outside in stall 17.
With the exception of Queen’s Jewel the home defence looks well below the normal standard expected for the mile and a quarter Classic providing the two British challengers, Star Of Seville and Malabar, with a decent opportunity of taking the first prize of £442,946 for connections.
The former will have the services of Derby-winning jockey Frankie Dettori and hopefully John Gosden’s filly will have better luck than when badly hampered in last week’s Investec Oaks at Epsom, eventually finishing ninth after being eased considerably in the closing stages. While the Duke Of Marmalade filly is capable of making her presence felt preference is for the Mick Channon-trained Malabar who can be backed at a best price 16-1 with William Hill.
The mount of champion jockey Richard Hughes, who takes over from Martin Harley, was a leading two-year-old with creditable runs in Group 1 contests at the Curragh and Longchamp and began her present campaign with a six and a half length fourth in the Qipco 1000 Guineas at Newmarket looking as though a step up in trip would suit.
Sent for the Irish equivalent three weeks later Malabar could never get into a challenging position behind the winner Pleascach after being held up, but still managed to finish two places in front of Investec Oaks winner Qualify and the extra two furlong of the French Classic should see a much more competitive effort. Although a draw of 14 does not look ideal for Malabar she should not encounter the possible traffic problems of those drawn on her inside and with a bit of luck in running can provide her trainer with a welcome change of Classic fortune.
1 Point each-way Malabar 16-1 William Hill