08/12/2017 2:37PM

Almanzor to make '17 debut in Prix Gontaut-Biron Hong Kong Jockey Club


Almanzor, Europe’s top-rated horse of 2016, will have his long-awaited 2017 debut against five overmatched rivals in Tuesday’s Group 3 Prix Gontaut-Biron Hong Kong Jockey Club at 1 1/4 miles at Deauville, France.

Almanzor was out of training earlier this year with a fever and physical issues, trainer Jean-Claude Rouget told the press. Intended comebacks in June or July were scrapped in favor of Tuesday’s $94,400 race.

A 4-year-old, Almanzor has won 6 of 8 starts and his last five races, a winning streak that includes the Group 1 French Derby at Chantilly, Group 2 Prix Guillaume d’Ornaro at Deauville, Group 1 Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown, and Group 1 British Champions Stakes at Ascot last October.

Almanzor races for Ecurie Antonio Caro and Gerard Augustin-Normand. Rouget has said the Prix Gontaut-Biron could be a prep for the Irish Champion Stakes on Sept. 9 and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Chantilly on Oct. 1.

As of Saturday, Almanzor was the 7-1 second choice in future-book betting for the Arc behind 9-4 Enable, the 3-year-old filly who won the Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot in July.

Almanzor will be ridden by Christophe Soumillon. His main rival is Garlingari, who was second in the Grand Prix de Vichy at 1 1/4 miles on turf July 19.

The richest race on Tuesday’s eight-race program at Deauville is the $472,000 Prix Guillaume d’Ornaro for 3-year-olds at 1 1/4 miles.

Rouget has the favorite in Brametot, who is perfect in three starts this year, including wins in the Group 1 French 2000 Guineas at Deauville in May and the French Derby on June 4, his most recent start.

The Prix Guillaume d’Ornaro drew a field of eight. Other highly-respected runners are Recoletos, who was third in the French Derby; and Eminent, who was fourth in the English Derby on June 3.