03/18/2010 12:00AM

Ashalanda facing class bunch in Prix Exbury


The European season's first stakes race on turf, the Group 3, $110,000 Prix Exbury at Saint-Cloud on Saturday, has attracted a high-class field of Group 2 caliber. Ashalanda, a 4-year-old filly owned by the Aga Khan, won twice at the Group 2 level last year, taking Saint-Cloud's Prix de Malleret and Newmarket's Pride Stakes. While those were both at 1 1/2 miles and against her own sex, Ashalanda, a daughter of Linamix trained by Alain de Royer-Dupre, will probably be the favorite in this 1 1/4-mile contest against males.

Challenging her are four Group 3 winners. Chinchon, trained by Carlos Laffon-Parias, closed out last season with a win in the 1 1/4-mile La Coupe de Maisons-Laffitte. Starlish took the 1 1/4-mile Prix Andre Baboin for trainer Elie Lellouche at Lyon-Parilly. Court Canibal won this race last year for Mikel Delzangles, while the 7-year-old mare La Boum has won a pair of Group 3's and is a frequent competitor at the Group 1 level.

Also on the Saint-Cloud card is the listed $75,000 Prix Maurice Caillault, an early 1 5/16-mile prep for the French Derby. The Lellouche-trained War Monger, a Linamix colt who broke his maiden by three lengths first time out going a mile at Saint-Cloud on Oct. 9, will be tested by Green Rock, winner last fall of the listed Criterium de l'Ouest at Craon, and Ivory Land, winner of the listed Grand Criterium de Bordeaux. Brigantin, a course-and-distance allowance winner for trainer Andre Fabre in November, will also make his presence felt.

In England, 14 will run in the Group 3, $153,000 Winter Derby going 1 1/4 miles on the Lingfield Polytrack. Stotsfold, third in the Arlington Million, since when he was second in the Group 3 Select Stakes, will make his seasonal debut for trainer Walter Swinburn against Soul City, who was third in last year's Irish 2000 Guineas, and Tranquil Tiger, who must rate the favorite off a pair of course-and-distance listed scores this winter for Henry Cecil and Khalid Abdullah.