French Horses Aiming to Shine at Royal Ascot 2024
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French Horses Aiming to Shine at Royal Ascot 2024

Excitement Builds as French Horses Aim to End Royal Ascot Drought

Royal Ascot’s illustrious history is dotted with the triumphs of brilliant French horses, trainers, and jockeys, but in recent years, their presence has been waning. However, that is set to change dramatically next week as the flat racing world’s biggest event will be illuminated by the biggest challenge from across the Channel in this decade, fueling anticipation that the major prizes could be captured by the French contingent.

Ahead of the royal meeting, Horse Power spent time on the Chantilly gallops, gathering the latest insights, and discovered that hopes are soaring that the five-year drought of Gallic success at Ascot will come to a spectacular end. Here are five horses to watch closely.

France’s last Royal Ascot winner was Watch Me in the Coronation Stakes back in 2019.

Big Rock (Trainer: Maurizio Guarnieri, Target: Queen Anne Stakes, Tuesday, Odds: 8/1)

The horse’s finest moment came at Ascot’s straight-mile course when he won the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes last October. After a disappointing run at Newbury last month, the switch to new trainer Guarnieri has the team confident of a big performance, with Christophe Soumillon now in the saddle.

Metropolitan (Trainer: Mario Barati, Target: St James’s Palace Stakes, Tuesday, Odds: 10/1)

An emerging force, Barati’s star has risen on the back of Metropolitan’s 33/1 success in the French 2000 Guineas last month. The Italian trainer, who was once an assistant to Marco Botti in Newmarket, is aiming to shock the likes of Notable Speech and Rosallion.

Zarakerm (Trainer: Jerome Reynier, Target: Prince Of Wales Stakes, Wednesday, Odds: 25/1)

Reynier, based in Marseille, made waves when Factuer Cheval won the £2.2 million Dubai Turf at Meydan in March, and he sends that horse to the Queen Anne Stakes, while Zarakerm should not be underestimated against Auguste Rodin.

Ramatuelle (Trainer: Christopher Head, Target: Coronation Stakes, Friday, Odds: 7/1)

Owned in part by NBA legend Tony Parker, this filly with blistering pace suffered a heartbreaking defeat in the QIPCO 1000 Guineas at Newmarket last month, but Head is thrilled with her form and believes she can claim a first Group 1 triumph.

Calandagan (Trainer: Francis-Henri Graffard, Target: King Edward VII Stakes, Friday, Odds: 14/1)

Graffard, responsible for France’s last Royal Ascot winner with Watch Me in 2019, has made seven entries for next week, and the unheralded but rapidly improving Calandagan could be a horse to watch in the King Edward VII Stakes.

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