Chantilly Sunday

3.05pm Prix de Diane Longines (Group 1 3YO Fillies) €1,000,000 1m 2f 110y

CHRIS Hayes can follow up his famous victory aboard Ezeliya in the English Oaks by landing the French equivalent, the Prix de Diane, aboard the Francis Graffard-trained Candala at Chantilly on Sunday.

Irish raiders have notched two victories and two second places in the last four runnings of this ten and a half furlong contest, but, in the absence of any four-legged Irish contenders for its 2024 renewal, Hayes can keep Irish eyes smiling by making the most of a chance ride and register his first ever French victory. He has been beaten on all 13 of his previous mounts there, going closest when Harbour Wind finished second in the Group 2 Prix Chaudenay last October.

One of two Graffard runners in a 14-strong field, Candala is an Aga Khan homebred daughter of Frankel and the mile and six Group 2 winner Candarliya, so stamina should not be an issue. The winner of two of her three career starts, she was set to be the stable’s first string in the Group 1 Poule d’Essai des Pouliches after she landed the Group 3 Prix de la Grotte over a mile on her comeback run in mid-April.


However, she took plenty of time to get over that race, meaning that she was scratched from that classic (won by her lesser-fancied stablemate Rouhiya), and has only begun to repeat her sparkling homework of the early spring in the last few days. Both of her victories have come on very soft ground, but connections are confident that she will be effective on a sound surface too, so the uncertain weather forecast is not a concern.

The two British challengers both have good credentials: the David Menuisier-trained Tamfana, and Dance Sequence, from the Charlie Appleby yard. Tamfana came out on top on their one previous meeting, when an unlucky-in-running close fourth behind Elmalka in the 1000 Guineas with Dance Sequence only ninth, and should do so again. French-born Menuisier has long had the Diane as her primary target, and this step up in trip should hold no fears for her.

Dance Sequence has since redeemed herself with a fine second place to Ezeliya in the Oaks, looking as if a mile and a half stretched her stamina, so conditions on Sunday could be ideal. It remains to be seen if she will have fully recovered from her Epsom exertions just two weeks ago.

Strong contenders

Laura Vanska and Alessandro Botti, two expatriate French-based handlers looking for their first taste of Group 1 glory, both saddle strong contenders in the shape of Birthe and Gala Real.

The Finland native Vanska, who only took out a licence three years ago, has landed both her initial listed and pattern races with the Study Of Man filly Birthe, a €10,000 Goffs yearling purchase whose most recent success came in the Group 2 Prix Saint-Alary, where she had two of Sunday’s opponents, Survie and Dare To Dream, back in third and fourth.

By Wootton Bassett, and a much more expensive yearling, having cost €270,000 at Arqana, Gala Real is in the care of the latest member of the Italian Botti dynasty to take up the training profession. Part-owned by the Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancellotti, she finished stone last on her debut last July but has won on all three subsequent outings.

Other interesting candidates are Christophe Ferland’s Aventure, a neck runner-up to Gala Real in May but a wide-margin Group 3 winner a fortnight ago, and Sparkling Plenty, who was only sixth in the Pouliches but looked good in a recent Group 2 victory and is now upped in distance.

Selection: CANDALA

Next best: Tamfana