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Published: Saturday May 11, 2013 MYT 9:34:00 AM
PARIS: Classy French colt Style Vendome can confirm his connections' high opinion of him and land the French 2000 Guineas at Longchamp on Sunday and give trainer Nicolas Clement his first win in the classic.
Style Vendome - winner of four of his five starts - won the influential Guineas trial the Prix Djebel last time out and has importantly got a low draw of three in the 18 runner field.
In contrast his likely main rival, Olympic Glory, is drawn 12.
The English raider is trained by veteran Richard Hannon who is looking to add the French 2000 Guineas to the English 1000 Guineas he won with Sky Lantern last Sunday.
Clement, who won Europe's most prestigious race the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe with Saumarez in 1990 also at Longchamp, believes that Style Vendome has matured nicely for what will be a major test of his temperament and class.
"I fear it might be a real cat and mouse race," he told AFP earlier in the week.
"However, Style Vendome is an ideal horse to train for a race with a big field as he can settle and he can also race up with the pace.
"He has five runs under his belt and he showed he was a real man in his last race. He grew some hair on his chest," added the 49-year-old.
Olympic Glory's Qatari owner Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad al Thani will be hoping he fares better here than the disappointing fourth place that his highly-fancied Toronado took in the English 2000 Guineas last Saturday.
The colt warmed up for his French trip by winning his prep race, the Greenham Stakes, at Newbury.
Despite winning that in rather laboured style he is returning to the course where he recorded his greatest success last October, the Group One Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere, and his jockey Richard Hughes believes he can repeat his victory.
"Olympic Glory is a lovely horse, and we are lucky in that he has the same owner as Toronado, so that we can keep them apart," said the 40-year-old Irishman, whose win on Sky Lantern was his first in a British classic.
"Longchamp will suit Olympic Glory so much better than Newmarket - he has already won a Group 1 there - and he might also get softer ground which would be a plus.
"He was still a bit big at Newbury. He will be a big player in France and he looks to be crying out for that mile now."
Irish training great Aidan O'Brien runs Flying the Flag and Gale Force Ten, ridden by former British champion jockey Ryan Moore in the saddle.
He will have to show a huge amount of improvement from a win in a mediocre race at Dundalk last time if he is to give his handler his first classic win of the campaign.
Longchamp racegoers will be spoilt on Sunday as they also get the French 1000 Guineas on the same card and here too home hopes are high of retaining the fillies mile prize with last year's Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner Flotilla.
Trainer Mikel Delzangles, no stranger to winning big races abroad having won the 2011 Melbourne Cup with Dunaden, has admitted she has taken time to show she was ready for the Guineas.
"Flotilla has just had a harder winter than I would have liked, she's just taken time to come to herself," said the 42-year-old.
"Little by little she is getting there, though, and she is coming back to herself now, I think.
"It was always the plan to aim her at the French Guineas but we hoped she would have wintered better."
Delzangles will have been relieved she got a low draw in what is a maximum 20 runner field. Her main opposition could well come from the sole Godolphin runner in either race, the Andre Fabre-trained Tasaday, winner of three of her four starts. - AFP
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