Christophe Ferland may have a Classic contender on his hands after Pao Alto landed the 1m 1f Group 3 Prix La Force at Longchamp on Thursday.
The Intello colt won a competitive renewal of the French Derby trial when sent off the 9/4 favourite. Pao Alto raced wide in the hands of champion jockey Maxime Guyon as Freddy Head’s Another Sky made the early running.
Once he got to the front, however, he angled over to the far rail and stayed on well for a 1 1/2 lengths victory. Highly-regarded Andre Fabre trained runner Ocean Atlantique chased Pao Alto home.
Mkfancy – a Group 1 winner as a juvenile – was the big disappointment of the Prix La Force. He finished last for Pia Brandt, so something looked amiss.
Pao Alto is now a best-price 8/1 chance with the bookies for the French 2000 Guineas and French Derby. He was as big as 20/1 for the latter before the Prix La Force.
Officially called the Prix du Jockey Club, the French Derby at Chantilly is on 5 July this year. If dropping back in trip for the Guineas first, then Pao Alto faces a sharp turnaround time as that is on 1 June.
Ferland focused on Chantilly in his post-race comments, however. “He showed a nice change of gear,” the trainer said of Pao Alto.
“I hope we can keep him progressing all the way until the start of July. He will stay the 2100m at Chantilly.”
Emoji beaten by Magic Attitude in Prix Vanteaux
Elsehwere on the Longchamp card, the other 1m 1f Group 3 Classic trial – the Prix Vanteaux for fillies – went the way of 14/1 chance Magic Attitude.
Fabrice Chappet’s daughter of Galileo pulled off a major upset here. The field were taken along by Passefontaine, the money horse who halved in price before the off.
However, her jockey couldn’t keep up the pace and she dropped tamely away. While that happened on the inside, Magic Attitude progressed outside market leader Emoji and second-favourite Flighty Lady, and raced into the lead.
She stayed on strongly in the final furlong to score by two lengths. It took the judges to separate Emoji and Flighty Lady for the places.
Magic Attitude is now 12/1 joint third favourite for the Prix de Diane (French Oaks). She may face some unexposed fillies in that Chantilly Classic that include Jean-Claude-Rouget trained pair Simeen and Raabihah.