Cagnes-sur-Mer on the French Riviera plays host to a Fast-Track Qualifier on Sunday, February 14, with six three-year-olds due to run in the Listed Prix de la Californie (2.15pm local time).
The winner of the mile race on Polytrack receives a free and automatic place in the £150,000 32Red All-Weather 3-Y-O Mile Championships Conditions Stakes at Lingfield Park on All-Weather Championships Finals Day, Good Friday, March 25.
Jean-Claude Rouget is the most successful trainer at Cagnes-sur-Mer in recent years and the Pau handler has two runners. Hurricane (Ioritz Mendizabal) is unbeaten in two starts including an easy course and distance success on January 16, while Camp Courage (Franck Blondel) has twice been placed at Listed level on turf.
Viserano (Didier Prod’homme/Pierre-Charles Boudot), who trailed home last in the Group One Prix Morny at Deauville in August, captured a conditions race over the same course and distance as the Prix de la Californie on January 26.
Passeport (Keven Borgel/Nicolas Perret), Camp Courage and Amiral (Xavier Nakkachdji/Maxime Guyon) were fourth, fifth and sixth respectively behind Viserano and all three are set to re-oppose the winner.
The line-up is completed by the unexposed Magnanime (Fabrice Chappet/Tony Piccone), who steps up in class after scoring in a Polytrack maiden at Chantilly in October.
An eight-race card at Cagnes-sur-Mer on Sunday also features the Listed Grand Prix de la Riviera Cote d’Azur (3.15pm local time) over a mile and a quarter, which has seven declared runners.
Metropol makes a third appearance of this season’s All-Weather Championships and trainer Pia Brandt is hoping that another good run will see the five-year-old book his place in the £200,000 Coral Easter Classic on Good Friday.
The son of Holy Roman Emperor has run excellent races in a pair of 10-furlong Listed contests at Lingfield Park so far this season, taking a close third in the coral.co.uk Churchill Stakes and finishing fifth in the Coral Quebec Stakes, in which he was beaten less than a length and a half in total. Theo Bachelot, who was in the saddle on both occasions, takes the ride again.
His rivals this time include Affaire Solitaire (Patrick Khozian/Nicolas Perret), who was second to Al Kazeem in the Group Two Prix d’Harcourt last year, and dual turf Listed winner Royal Dolois (Jean-Michel Lefebvre/Pierre-Charles Boudot).
Brandt, who trains in Chantilly, commented: “Metropol needs another race to qualify for Good Friday and he is in very good form at the moment.
“He was beaten by some very good horses in the Quebec Stakes last time. He was with them until the last half-furlong but couldn’t go with them at the end.
“It was the same situation in the Churchill Stakes and maybe the horses that finished in front of him are a little bit better than him.
“This race doesn’t look as strong as his last two runs and, if he shows the same level of form as he has done so far, then I would be quite confident of his chances.
“Hopefully, he can run well and then we will head straight to Finals Day with him.”