There are a couple of ways in which this year’s Darley Prix Morny-Finale des Darley Series (G1) Aug. 22 at Deauville differs from a typical running of the race, and which may, in turn, increase the number of genuine pretenders to succeed last year’s winner Campanelle .
The most obvious is the comparatively large field of 14, against a 10-year average of eight runners from a decade when the number of starters only reached double figures twice.
What is also clear is that they are quite a well-matched bunch. When adding the four pounds weight for age, eight of Armor ‘s 13 rivals are rated within six pounds of his Racing Post Rating of 110.
Richard Hannon-trained Armor is likely to be the logical starting place for many, given that stablemate Lusail was an impressive winner of the Aug. 20 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Gimcrack Stakes (G2) in the same Al Shaqab silks.
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Armor’s success in the five-furlong Markel Molecomb Stakes (G3) strongly suggested he would have no issue with the extra furlong in the Prix Morny. A son of the 2013 Morny winner No Nay Never , he improved notably from his run in the Windsor Castle Stakes on only his third start and further improvement might prove beyond all but a handful of his rivals.
“It’s a step up for him moving into group 1 company but he’s in really good order and Richard is delighted with him,” said Alison Begley, racing manager to Al Shaqab. “The ground looks like being good to soft and that should suit him perfectly.”
Stablemate Gubbass also has only three starts to his name and did himself no favors when hanging towards the center of the track behind Asymmetric and Khunan in the Unibet Richmond Stakes (G2) at Goodwood.
Asymmetric had previously pushed Lusail all the way in the Tattersalls July Stakes (G2) at Newmarket and looks likely to give his running and he may be a horse who only ever just does enough in front.
Khunan enjoyed the run of the race when second in the Richmond but Richard Fahey’s other runner Perfect Power had no luck at all and it is not hard to see him improving past the form he showed when winning the Norfolk Stakes (G2).
Fillies have won three of the last five Mornys and have an excellent record going further back, which will please supporters of decisive Queen Mary (G2) winner Quick Suzy and Darley Prix de Cabourg (G3) scorer Have A Good Day .
The Andre Fabre-trained Trident came to win his race in the Cabourg but was a little isolated out in the middle of the track on what was only his second start, while Toimy Son is surely a lot better than he was able to show that day after being repeatedly denied a run.
The Prix Morny will award the winner a fees-paid berth in the Nov. 5 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2T) at Del Mar.
Quick Suzy Brings Royal Ascot Form
While most of the principals from the top juvenile races at Royal Ascot have been out once or more since June, Gavin Cromwell has bided his time with Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ Quick Suzy, who dropped back to five furlongs in the Queen Mary.
Her nearest pursuer at Ascot, Twilight Gleaming , came back from America to keep Campanelle company on her trip to Deauville a fortnight ago and boosted the form with a cozy listed success.
Quick Suzy will break nearest to the stands’ rail in stall 1, with only Asymmetric (5) among the leading British and Irish hopes drawn relatively low.
“She’s very good and traveled over fine,” said Cromwell. “I know she’s stepping up to six furlongs but it seems to be an easy six at Deauville. Fillies have a very good record in the race, as do Queen Mary winners, so we’re very hopeful.”