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Appleby looking for pre-Ascot boost with Al Hilalee and Vintager at Chantilly

Charlie Appleby sends Al Hilalee to Chantilly in search of Group success before the biggest week of the summer for Godolphin.

The son of Dubawi won a Listed contest at Deauville last summer and looks better suited to the mile and a half of the Group 2 Prix Hocquart Longines (2.20) than when supplemented for the 2,000 Guineas given he shaped better when third in the Fairway Stakes after finishing 16th in the Classic. 

"The step up to a mile and a quarter saw some improvement from on his last start," said Appleby. "We're hoping that another step up in distance will produce further improvement."

Trained by Andre Fabre and also representing Godolphin, Khagan looks a threat after finishing third to the Appleby-trained Jalmoud at Longchamp last time in a race where a case could be made for all five runners. 

Vintager will need to step up on his four starts for Appleby when facing four rivals in the Prix Bertrand du Breuil Longines (5.35), with Trais Fluors looking ominous if reproducing his third-placed effort behind Zabeel Prince in the Group 1 Prix d'Ispahan. 

However Appleby believes the ground, which was soft on Saturday and unlikely to dry out beyond good to soft on Sunday, may be helpful.

"We feel the drop down in trip and ease in the ground will hopefully see Vintager rekindle some of his best form," said Appleby.

"He won very well over a mile at Newmarket last year and has shown a good level of form on a softer surface."

Anodor merits strong consideration on the basis of his two-year-old form for the Prix Paul de Moussac Longines (1.45) and should have progressed for his comeback in the Poule d'Essai des Poulains.

John Gosden saddles Azano who, having run creditably when 11th in the 2,000 Guineas, failed by just a neck to reel in Jersey Stakes hopeful Jash in the Listed King Charles II Stakes and steps back up to a mile here. 

Eagle Hunter had his progress temporarily halted when fourth to Diane hopeful Noor Sahara at Longchamp, but trainer Francis Graffard is hopeful that was just a blip.

"I was very disappointed last time, but I blame myself for leaving him short of work," said Graffard. "He won't fail forfitness this time."

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