by Dan Munn
On Wednesday, Aidan O Brien unleashes Jan Vermeer on Longchamp in the Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris. Normally a classy individual is required to win this race and one who relishes the 1m 4f distance. With that in mind, and taking into account my large sway of Jan Vermeer in the Epsom Derby, I'm unsure if Jan Vermeer is really that kind of horse.
Ideally, Jan Vermeer would have won a slowly run Irish Derby last time out if he were the classy horse we all believed he was yet he was beaten by his stablemates Cape Blanco and Midas Touch on that day and, despite being bumped a bit in the final few furlongs, pretty much franked the form with Midas Touch on their Epsom run. The main questions for me in the lead up to this race are: Does Jan Vermeer stay 1m 4f well enough to win a Group 1 on foreign soil? and What has Jan Vermeer beaten? With too many questions surrounding Jan Vermeer, the 7/4 is hardly value to me and i'll be swerving him come Wednesday.
Instead three French colts really take my eye and none more so than Planteur. Planteur's form since the tail end of 2009 is a 6 length demolition of a highly Fabre colt Lumineux, a 2 length beating of Rewilding when he was also with Andre Fabre and a 3 length second to Lope De Vega in the Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly. On Wednesday trainer Elie Lellouche runs his pacemaker Vivre Libre to yet again set the perfect pace for Planteur and the step up to 1m 4f.
My second choice in this race would be Goldwaki. Owned by Wertheimer & Frere (owners of Goldikova and US G2 winner Exhi) this colt is trained by Andre Fabre who won this race last year with Cavalryman. Ironically, Cavalryman was stepped up to Group 1 level in exactly the same way as this colt and it is eyecatching that Andre Fabre already sees Goldwaki as a Group 1 contender. Goldwaki, partnered by Olivier Peslier, has had one run in Group level prior to this race when winning the Prix du Lys over Manshoor and Prizefighting. However, he has been campaigned at this kind of trip in all of his starts this year and is arguably the more experienced of all the runners in terms of the distance. At 8/1, taking into account Fabre's record with similar style colts and the distance experience, it would be wise to keep this in your portfolio for the day.
Finally, Ice Blue ran no kind of race in the Prix du Jockey Club and it would take more than one bad run to put me off of him. Arguably, Ice Blue has run to form in the Prix du Jockey Club in keeping 2 lengths between him and Handsome Devil whom he has beaten by that distance on four occasions this year. However, the hype surrounding this Juddamonte inmate is hard to ignore and Pascal Bary really believes that this colt is something special. Will he benefit from a step up in trip to this distance? Possibly and with that he has to be the saver in the field.
A small note on Behkabad who was surging towards the finish in the Prix du Jockey Club. The extra distance will play in his favour and it may hurt to ignore this one. However, Ice Blue is one I'd much rather keep on my side for this weeks race.
The Suggestion (Using 10pts)
PLANTEUR 5pts @ 3/1
ICE BLUE 2.75pts @ 11/2
GOLDWAKI 2.25pts @ 8/1