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Will Tamfana or Dance Sequence waltz to glory in the Prix de Diane?

David Menuisier and Charlie Appleby have differing levels of experience when it comes to preparing Classic contenders, but the two trainers present fillies who have shown themselves already to be genuine Group 1 calibre in an open-looking Prix de Diane Longines. 

Menuisier has been working back from this race ever since Tamfana's win in the Prix Miesque at Chantilly last October. With more luck she might have picked up the Qipco 1,000 Guineas on the way, given the way the daughter of Soldier Hollow flew when finally getting clear passage at Newmarket. 

Proven Group 1 form over a mile has often been the key to finding the Diane winner and Tamfana looks just about the right favourite. 

Appleby is attempting a feat pulled off twice in recent memory by John Gosden in coming back for the Diane in short order with a filly who ran in the Oaks over an extra furlong and a half. 

Dance Sequence was the subject of heavy market support that day and was the only serious challenger to Ezeliya before appearing to tire late on. The trip looks the right one, but it remains to be seen whether she can back up a huge performance at Epsom in the way that Nashwa did two years ago. 

The French trials have thrown up a clutch of extremely promising candidates in the shape of Birthe (Prix Saint-Alary), Halfday (Prix Cleopatre) and Gala Real (Prix de la Seine). 

The Saint-Alary has been the only one of the established trials to supply a Diane winner in recent memory, with 2018 Chantilly heroine Laurens the third to do the double since 2009.

Gala Real had the form of her victory at Longchamp boosted in emphatic fashion when her nearest pursuer, Aventure, streaked home by seven lengths when upped in trip to a mile and a half in the Prix de Royaumont on Jockey Club day a fortnight ago.

Christophe Ferland is rolling the dice with the drop in trip and a quick turnaround with Aventure, and while she and Gala Real look very talented fillies, the question remains as to whether they will be fast enough for this task.

Chantilly's dynamic Irish duo Gavin Hernon and Tim Donworth saddle their first Classic runners. Hernon's Dare To Dream did not look to have too hard a race when a running on fourth in the Saint-Alary, while Donworth steps up in trip with L'Equilibriste from her win in the Prix Finlande and has called up Hollie Doyle for the ride. Both are well-drawn. 

If class over a mile as well as breeding for middle distances is the winning recipe then close attention to Prix de la Grotte winner Candala and Poule d'Essai seventh Rock'n Swing, who recorded the fastest closing fractions of the entire field having been last turning for home. However both must overcome wide draws. 

'Exceptional' Tamfana faces date with Diane destiny
David Menuisier should have a decent line to plenty of his opponents through War Chimes, who was a length and a half behind Dance Sequence in the Oaks, having been fifth to Birthe in the Saint-Alary when doing too much on the front end.

Menuisier has always insisted that Tamfana is the classier filly of the two and comes here off the back of a remarkable finishing effort when fourth in the 1,000 Guineas.

"She's an exceptional filly and I've always thought she would improve when we stepped her up in trip," said Menuisier. "The 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket was both an objective in itself and at the same time a stepping stone to the Diane. We went there trying to win but really she astonished me that day.

"I didn't expect her to show that kind of speed and to be so comfortable over a mile. I think she'll stay and if you look at her pedigree she should be running at Auteuil or Cheltenham."

Menuisier's regular first choice jockey Oisin Murphy takes over from Jamie Spencer, who enjoyed terrible luck at Newmarket when Tamfana got no split between runners.  

The effect of the draw and the likely going
While you would still rather be drawn nearer the rail around Chantilly's long right-handed sweep, low numbers haven't been nearly as dominant in the Diane as has been the case in the Prix du Jockey Club over the same course and distance.

In the last decade both Star Of Seville in 15 and Laurens in stall 12 have prospered from a wide berth, while going back to 1990 there have been nine winners drawn between stalls ten and 14, and a further six drawn in eight and nine.

Fast-draining Chantilly is currently 3.4 (bon souple) on the penetrometer, while the more recognisable GoingStick reads good to firm. There is around four millimetres of rain forecast for Sunday morning. 

What They Say
Nemone Routh, racing manager in France to the Aga Khan, owner of Candala
We took her to the racecourse last week and she brushed aside a horse of ours that then won at Craon. She's a filly that, when she is well, she shows it in her work. She looks great and she's moving well, while we've always thought she would be better over a bit further. But the draw is a big issue in a big field.

Nicolas Clement, trainer of Survie
She worked at the racecourse last week because I thought it was important that she had experience of the track. I think she's progressed physically and mentally and while she's not among the favourites, I see her as a good outsider.

Charlie Appleby, trainer of Dance Sequence
It’s been only two weeks since the Oaks, so the timing is tight enough. But she has shown all the signs that she has recovered well from Epsom, and the drop back in trip is going to suit her. We’ve applied cheekpieces this time to help her concentration levels. If she can repeat her Oaks run, she'll be very competitive.

Andre Fabre, trainer of Rock'n Swing
I was a bit frustrated with the draw [in the Poule d'Essai] otherwise she would have finished closer. She'll be better over two extra furlongs and I think she's going to run well. It's new opposition and again she has a draw that is not the best. She was still backward and wintery before the Poule but now she looks better.

Tim Donworth, trainer of L'Equilibriste
We're being punchy but I think when you analyse her form, the filly she beat in the Finlande, Luiza Bere, did finish in front of the French Guineas winner [Rouhiya] the time before. And last year she beat Rose Jaipur, who is now a black-type winner and rated 110. Maxime [Guyon] galloped her on Monday because I wanted his opinion as he knows her best and he said she's in great form so you've no reason not to go. Whether she's good enough, we'll see.

Laura Vanska, trainer of Birthe
Birthe did her last serious work last week and then just had a pipe-opener on Tuesday to avoid her being too fresh. She does the minimum in the mornings but Aurelien Lemaitre was happy with her.

Gavin Hernon, trainer of Dare To Dream
She won really well on her seasonal debut in soft ground. I don't know that she needs it but she handles it, which is not the case for everyone. She found herself quite a way behind a slow pace which didn't suit her in the Saint-Alary, while she was found to be in season afterwards, so she had excuses. I came back that day thinking that if the race had been truly run and over another 100 metres, she wouldn't have been far away.

Christophe Ferland, trainer of Aventure
She's been in great form since the Royuamont and she didn't lose a gram. I don't think coming back to this trip is a worry and the main question is her recuperation. We did a very short piece of work on the turf to check she was moving well and then discussed it together, while I had the final say.

 

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