The Emirates Poule d'Essai des Poulains (Group 1) | 1m (straight) | 3yo colts | SKY
Andre Fabre has proved time and again that a prep race is only that, before wringing major improvement three weeks later when the main target comes around.
Backers of Victor Ludorum can be reasonably assured that they will see a much better performance than when a moderate third in the Prix de Fontainebleau on May 11, and the layers have taken no chances in making him favourite to overturn that form with The Summit and Ecrivain.
Three wins in the space of six weeks marked him out as a serious talent at two, one who looked likely to improve physically at three.
Unlike with the fillies' trial, defeat in the Fontainebleau has been no bar to future success and Victor Ludorum still looks an exciting prospect.
The conundrum for punters is whether his apparent sluggishness in the straight at Longchamp was just down to rustiness, or whether he is more of a galloper than a colt with an instant turn of foot.
If it is the latter then Deauville's dragstrip mile could just catch him out for speed.
In the Fontainebleau Ecrivain was never asked to seriously chase The Summit, who already had a race under his belt, and he looks almost sure to run his race.
Kenway has been something of a mercurial performer and is more exposed than most but was only just behind Victor Ludorum, while the memory of the acceleration he deployed to win a Group 3 last September is hard to shake.
Away from the main trial Fabre has two more interesting candidates.
Alson was outstayed by Victor Ludorum on heavy ground in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere last October and should be suited by this lesser test of stamina, though he will be having his first start of the year.
Arapaho may not have achieved a lot in winning the Listed Prix du Pont-Neuf over seven furlongs but the manner of his success suggested he could play a major hand.
Shining Ocean has been supplemented and looks the pick of his owner's two runners, while Reshabar was impressive in a conditions race at Chantilly and lines up for a trainer who does not take much notice of the ante-post markets when deciding on his Group 1 entries.
What the stats say
Apart from Andre Fabre's seven victories – an eighth here would put him ahead of Francois Mathet as the most successful trainer in the modern era of the race's history – the only other trainer represented in the line-up to have previously won the Poulains is Carlos Laffon-Parias, who scored in 2008 with Falco and saddled runner-up Shaman 12 months ago.
What the trainers say
Andre Fabre, trainer of Alson, Victor Ludorum and Arapaho
Alson has to adapt and I don't want him to make the running as that would be too hard first time out. He will be covered up and we'll see how he finishes. He is in good shape and he's going to run well. Victor Ludorum needed the race in the Fontainebleau and it wasn't the best of efforts because he was drawn wide and then pulled a bit. All his work has satisfied me and I think he will run up to his best. This could be sharp enough for him and I've always had it in mind that he is an ideal horse for the Jockey Club, but he is good enough to win a race like this and I expect him to run well. Arapaho has a lot of class and a good turn of foot. I think he has a role to play in this race.
Alex Pantall, trainer of The Summit
He has done really well since the Fontainebleau. That went well for him, that's for sure, but nonetheless he picked up really well in the straight and ran all the way to the line. It wasn't simply a case of striking for home first. I think he has a lot of quality and there couold be more to come. I don't see the fast ground as posing a problem.
Fabrice Chappet, trainer of Celestin
He ran fine on his comeback and, while he would prefer softer ground, he has every right to be in the line-up.
Christophe Ferland, trainer of Shining Ocean
He seems well since running a very good comeback race and he has come forward for it so I expect him to run well. He has always worked well and, although he had a slight issue over the winter, he's been improving steadily to the point where he is in good form.
Frederic Rossi, trainer of Kenway
He had plenty go against him in the Fontainebleau and in the circumstances I was reassured by his performance. I'm delighted with the move to a straight track and I think the rhythm of the race will help him.
Markus Munch, trainer of Reshabar
I have always been convinced about this horse, ever since he arrived as a yearling. But he is still a big baby and this is another step up, although I expect him to run very well. It's logical to keep Tony [Piccone] on after the way he won at Chantilly. He is improving week by week and he will learn more from this race too.
Carlos Laffon-Parias, trainer of Ecrivain
It was a prep run and a comeback rather than an objective in the Fontainebleau. He enjoyed a super trip without having a hard race and you couldn't have asked for more three weeks ahead of D Day. I think the three that filled the places in the prep are all horses to be reckoned with and he is very dependable.