Wesley Ward won’t be the only foreign trainer launching a raiding party of two-year-olds at Royal Ascot this year. French-based Matthieu Palussiere is also assembling a team of youngsters for the Royal meeting who will be carrying the yellow and black colours of Theresa Marnane, wife of Ireland’s well-known breeze-up consignor Con Marnane.
A ‘horrendously bad year at the sales’ has left Con Marnane with plenty of unsold two-year-olds to go into training. In fact, such has been the success of this trainer-owner combination in France this year, particularly with its juveniles, that Palussiere is currently eleventh in the French trainers’ championship while Theresa Marnane is fifth in the owners’ list with 31 wins.
Top earner at this early stage of the year among the team’s two-year-olds is Trois Mats, a son of Wootton Bassett who was bought for €18,000 as a yearling. He has won two of his three starts, including the class 1 Prix Equidia which opened the Prix du Jockey Club card at Chantilly recently.
Another colt, Show Must Go On, has earned black type from finishing second in the Prix La Fleche at Maisons-Laffitte, the first black-type race of the year for French two-year-olds. He was an even cheaper yearling purchase at just €12,000 and is by Reply, a son of Oasis Dream who finished third in the Middle Park Stakes and Irish 2000 Guineas.
Neither of those, however, are among the Royal Ascot party which looks like being formed instead by these stable-companions:
Forever In Dreams; winner of both her starts, including a defeat of Trois Mats at Saint-Cloud, and entered in the Queen Mary Stakes. She’s a homebred daughter of Dream Ahead out of a half-sister to champion French sprinter Marchand d’Or.
Junius Brutus; winner of both his starts at La Teste and Maisons-Laffitte and entered in the Coventry Stakes. He cost just €6,500 as a yearling and is by Cockney Rebel out of a half-sister to Juddmonte’s dual Champion Stakes winner Twice Over.
No More Regrets; winner at Chateaubriant on her second start before finishing second in a listed race at Milan last time and going for the Albany Stakes. A 40,000 guineas yearling by Kodiac, her dam Shifting was second in a listed race over a mile at Naas and was out of the speedy Italian two-year-old Shifting Place who was second in the Prix Robert Papin.
On A Session; winner of his two starts at Lyon Parilly and Angers and being aimed at the Chesham Stakes. He was a first winner for Frankel’s brother Noble Mission and cost $50,000 as a yearling. His dam Destiny Calls, a daughter of With Approval, was a prolific winner in the States and hails from the family of Storm Bird.
Pardon My French; won at Lyon Parilly on his second start and being aimed at the Windsor Castle Stakes. Another by Kodiac, he was a €36,000 yearling and is out of Redstone Dancer who gained Group 3 wins over seven furlongs in Ireland in the Brownstown Stakes and Minstrel Stakes.
Rolling King; finished second to Trois Mats at Chantilly after a winning debut at the same course and another Coventry entry, though he too could go for the Windsor Castle Stakes. He’s a $70,000 yearling by More Than Ready out of the Grand Slam mare Grandacious who was a listed winner and Grade 3-placed in the States.
No More Regrets and Junius Brutus are lots 12 and 23 respectively at Goffs London Sale at Kensington Palace Gardens on the eve of Royal Ascot so could potentially be of much more interest to potential buyers now than they were when offered up earlier in the year.
On A Session has won the same two races which were won by the Marnane/Palussiere filly Different League before she won last year’s Albany Stakes at the Royal meeting. The daughter of Dabirsim failed to sell as a yearling after being bought for just €8,000 as a foal, but then fetched 1.5m guineas at Tattersalls last December before joining Aidan O’Brien. She could run for her new connections at Royal Ascot in either the King’s Stand Stakes or Commonwealth Cup.
Whatever the fate of the two-year-olds in his wife’s colours, Marnane will also be keen to see how Poule d’Essai des Pouliches winner Teppal fares in the Coronation Stakes. She was one he did sell at last year’s breeze-ups, fetching €105,000 at Arqana having been pinhooked for €60,000 there as a yearling. Another Marnane pinhook, Sands of Mali, sold for £75,000 at Ascot’s breeze-up sale, is an intended runner in the Commonwealth Cup.