Christopher Head will be looking to uphold national pride when the exciting Ramatuelle takes her chance in the Sumbe Prix Morny on Sunday.
The daughter of Justify has shown real star quality in her four outings so far and having won the Group Three Prix du Bois by an emphatic five lengths at Chantilly in June, returned to the track to add the Prix Robert Papin in style, winning by an eased-down four lengths.
Not afraid to take on the colts, the speedy youngster now faces off against some of the best juveniles in Europe as she bids to become just the second French-trained winner of the Deauville contest since 2011.
“We can’t wait to go to the Morny with her and it has been part of the plan since the beginning,” said her trainer. “I think she’s the type of horse who can box with this calibre of horse at this time in the season.
“There is going to be two fillies, two French horses and lots of good opposition, but she’s doing fine and all the lights are green for the Morny.”
Head has established himself as a leading trainer thanks to the exploits of the popular dual-Classic winner Blue Rose Cen and now dreams of Ramatuelle also becoming a household name.
That task is made all the more possible by the fact she is co-owned by former NBA star Tony Parker, with Ramatuelle donning black and silver silks based on his former championship-winning team the San Antonio Spurs.
Head added: “It will be an honour to bring a new idol into racing and I feel lucky to have the confidence of owners who will send me these tremendous horses.”
Aidan O’Brien saddled Blackbeard to land this 12 months ago and this time relies on the unbeaten Coventry Stakes winner River Tiber, who crosses the Channel following an interrupted preparation that has left his trainer openly concerned about his chance.
“He’s good, I’m worried that he missed 10 days so he will run with a cloud over him,” said O’Brien. “I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he did get tired. We are taking a chance on running him back because if he doesn’t run now he won’t be out until the autumn.
“He came sounder quicker than we thought he would, he did a piece of work and that’s why we let him take his chance, but there is a cloud over him. If he did run disappointing I wouldn’t be surprised.
“He was lame for seven days, he came back sound but he missed all the work.”
River Tiber is joined by fellow Irish raider and Norfolk Stakes hero Valiant Force, who bids to add to trainer Adrian Murray’s maiden Group One victory in last Saturday’s Phoenix Stakes.
“We’re very happy with him and we worked him at the Curragh last week alongside Bucanero Fuerte and he worked very well,” said the colt’s handler.
“He would prefer good ground. Bucanero would like to get his toe in, but Valiant Force would be a better horse on quick ground. You don’t know until you run them but we think that.
“He hit the line well over five at Ascot, which is a strong five, so he should be OK stepping up in trip.”