The roll of honour for Longchamp’s five-furlong Prix de l’Abbaye includes Habibti, Dayjur, Lochsong and many other champions, befitting the most prestigious sprint horse race in Europe (12.55pm BST, Sunday).
The Abbaye is open to two-year-olds and upwards, but has been dominated by older horses in recent years. In the last ten years, five five-year-olds, three six-year-olds, one four-year-old and one three-year-old have won. Interestingly, nine of the last ten winners of this Group 1 race were trained in Great Britain and just one, Marchand D’Or in 2008, was trained in France.
North Yorkshire trainer Bryan Smart stated that last year’s winner, Tangerine Trees, was likely to head straight for Longchamp after the seven-year-old finishing tenth, beaten 4¾ lengths, behind Ortensia in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York in August. The son of Mind Games hasn’t been beaten far on his last three starts, but he’s done nothing to suggest that he’s a winner in waiting and is hard to fancy, even at odds of 20/1.
The four-year-old filly Mayson, also trained in North Yorkshire, this time by Richard Fahey, appeared to show remarkable improvement when beating The Cheka by five lengths in the July Cup at Newmarket on her most recent start. The third horse that day, Society Rock, subsequently won the Betfred Sprint Cup at Haydock and the fourth horse, Ortensia, subsequently won the Nunthorpe Stakes at York, so the form looks rock solid.
The July Cup was run over 6f on heavy ground and the ground here may be similarly testing but it remains to be seen if she can reproduce that form back at 5f, especially as she’s been off the course for 85 days. She may well win, and has to rate a big danger, but her current odds of 11/2 look short enough for a filly with a question to answer.
Robert Cowell’s four-year-old Spirit Quartz finished 3¾ lengths in front of Edward Lynam’s 5-year-old Sole Power when runner-up to Ortensia in the Nunthorpe Stakes, but had previously finished behind that rival in both the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Temple Stakes at Haydock earlier in the season. Spirit Quartz is undoubtedly smart, but he’s never won over 5f and hasn’t won a race of any kind since joining Robert Cowell from Italy at the start of the season. He’s another who appears short enough at his current odds of 13/2.
Sole Power is another infrequent winner, but does at least boast a Group 1 victory, albeit at odds of 100/1 more than two years ago, over 5f. He was a ready winner of the Listed Scarborough Stakes at the Doncaster St Leger Festival last month and looked an unlucky loser in this race last year, when beaten just a head by Tangerine Trees after meeting trouble in running. He looks one of the more likely winners and he’s one to keep on the right side at odds of 6/1.
Only two favourites have won the Prix de l’Abbaye in the last 10 years and the average starting price of the winner during that period was just over 11/1. One horse that looks to have a real chance at rewarding odds is Mick Channon’s two-year-old Cay Verde.
No two-year-old has won the Abbaye since Sigy, in 1978, but the son of Bahamian Bounty easily beat Baileys Jubilee in the Group 3 Prix d’Arenberg at Chantilly on his penultimate start. Crucially that was on soft ground. He again ran well when fourth, beaten 4¼ lengths, in the Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury last time. Baileys Jubilee was only beaten a length in the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket last week and the winner of the Mill Reef Stakes, Moohaajim, is as short as 16/1, in places, for next year’s 2,000 Guineas.
The colt is well treated by the race conditions and receives 14lbs, or more, from each of his rivals here. CAY VERDE looks worthy of support at his current odds of 20/1 with BetVictor.