Some promising French three-year-olds will be having their first runs of 2015 in the weeks ahead as they embark on prospective classic campaigns. Thebreedingshed has selected a handful who could go all the way if living up to their illustrious pedigrees. None of the five have yet been tried in group company, but all have started their careers in a manner which suggests they are destined for better things. Clicking on the names of the underlined races below will link to videos of these horses in action.
GREY LION trained by Andre Fabre for Gestut Ammerland
This grey colt by Galileo out of the Prix du Moulin winner Grey Lilas is a full brother to Golden Lilac who completed the French fillies’ classic double of the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches and Prix de Diane for the same connections in 2011 before going on to win the Prix d’Ispahan as a four-year-old. Grey Lion won a newcomers race over a mile at Saint-Cloud in September, the Prix Chapeau Rouge, in smooth style, quickening to lead for just hand riding to beat next-time-out winner Beyond Henry. The pair put distance between themselves and the third horse who in turn finished clear of the remainder. Grey Lion holds entries in the Prix du Jockey Club and Grand Prix de Paris.
STARS AND CLOUDS trained by Freddy Head for Mme Yolande Seydoux de Clausonne and Eric Puerari
A filly by 2000 Guineas winner Makfi, Stars And Clouds is a half-sister to her stable’s excellent filly Moonlight Cloud, winner of three editions of the Prix Maurice de Gheest, as well as the Prix du Moulin, Prix Jacques le Marois, and Prix de la Foret. Like her half-sister, there doesn’t look to be a lot of Stars And Clouds but she made a good impression when making a winning debut in the Prix de Sandricourt for newcomers at Chantilly in October in which she travelled well throughout (cream/brown colours) before showing a good attitude to prevail. As well as entries in both fillies’ classics in France, she’s also engaged in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket, a race for which Moonlight Cloud started favourite in 2011 after winning the Prix Imprudence beforehand.
TALE OF LIFE trained by Pascal Bary for Flaxman Stables
A colt by the top-class Japanese performer Deep Impact, Tale of Life is a grandson of the brilliant Niarchos mare Miesque whose Group 1 wins included the 1000 Guineas and its French equivalent, as well as two editions of the Breeders’ Cup Mile. Tale of Life’s dam is a half-sister to further French classic winners in Kingmambo and East of The Moon and to the grandam of the latest Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Karakontie; in fact, this family was the subject of this blog’s very first post last year in which Tale of Life was himself mentioned. He looked another top prospect in the Niarchos colours when making a most impressive debut in the Prix Antivari for newcomers over a mile at Saint-Cloud last November, pulling seven lengths clear of the Juddmonte colt Pilansberg who himself made a winning reappearance at Chantilly earlier this week. Tale of Life is entered in both the 2000 Guineas and Derby in Britain as well as the equivalent classics at home.
VEDOUMA trained by Alain de Royer Dupre for His Highness the Aga Khan
This filly by Dalakhani has a fine middle-distance pedigree, being a full sister to the Prix du Conseil de Paris winner Vadamar out of the Prix Saint-Alary winner Vadawina. Her dam only lost her unbeaten record when sustaining a career-ending injury in the Prix de Diane in which she nonetheless finished fourth. Vadawina’s half-sisters include Vadapolina, who started favourite for the Prix de Diane in 2007 (and is now dam of last year’s Poule d’Essai des Pouliches runner-up Veda); Vazira, who was awarded last season’s Prix Saint-Alary; and Vadsalina, winner of the listed Prix Isonomy over a mile as a two-year-old. Vedouma herself was an impressive winner of the latest edition of the Prix Isonomy (run at Chantilly in November), in which she quickened six lengths clear at the line, having made a winning debut at Longchamp the previous month. Vedouma is entered in the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches, as well as the Prix Saint-Alary and Prix de Diane in which her relatives have figured in the past, and it would be no surprise if she were to be entered for the Epsom Oaks when the time comes as she’s bred to be suited by a mile and a half.
VELANNDA trained by Jean-Claude Rouget for His Highness the Aga Khan
Owned, like Vedouma, by the Aga Khan (pictured), Velannda comes from the same family as that filly but this daughter of Sea The Stars is still a maiden. However, as a half-sister to her stable’s ill-fated 2012 Prix de Diane winner Valyra, she could well end up contesting the same race this June. Velannda showed plenty of promise to finish a close second in the Prix de La Reboursiere over seven and a half furlongs at Deauville last August on her only start. Taking a strong hold early on, Velannda looked a threat when brought wide into the straight but lost out narrowly to the Niarchos family-owned Night of Light as the pair pulled upwards of six lengths clear of the remainder. The winner went on to finish runner-up twice in Group 3 company later in the year, while sixth-placed Baltic Comtesse came second in the Prix des Reservoirs back at Deauville in the autumn.
[Image of His Highness the Aga Khan, owner of Vedouma and Velannda, courtesy of U. S. Department of State]