05/24/2013 3:42PM

Europe: Planteur's World Cup form tested in Prix d'Ispahan


Planteur heads a field of eight older runners in the Prix d’Ispahan, one of two Group 1 races along with the Prix Saint-Alary on the Sunday card at Longchamp in Paris.

Trained by Marco Botti, Planteur has only one win in his last nine starts, but has regularly faced some of the stiffest competition in the world, and his connections were well pleased with his third-place finish behind Animal Kingdom on March 30 in the $10 million Dubai World Cup.

That race and Planteur’s only recent win earlier this spring came on all-weather surfaces, but he is equally capable on turf, and finished second in the 2012 edition of the Prix d’Ispahan to the talented filly Golden Lilac. The other races – all Group 1’s – in which Planteur raced last year were the Dubai World Cup, won by Monterosso; the Prince of Wales’s, won by So You Think; and the Juddmonte International, won by Frankel. High-class competition, indeed, and Planteur, Botti’s team said during the Dubai trip, never got quite right last season and is expected to have a stronger 2013 campaign, as evidenced by his fine showing in the World Cup.

Maxios might or might not head the opposition, as the good ground Maxios found in his first two starts of the season – a win in the Prix d’Harcourt and a second to top-class Pastorius in the Prix Ganay – has given way to expected soft going this weekend at Longchamp. Maxios has won six of his 14 starts, all for the Niarchos family and trainer Jonathan Pease, and appears to be a stronger horse this year at 5 than in previous campaigns.

Career-best form also can be found in 6-year-old Don Bosco, who was second to Maxios in the Harcourt before winning the Group 2 Prix du Muguet on May 1. Meanwhile, the 4-year-old form of the filly Beauty Parlour is unknown, as she makes her 2013 debut and second start for trainer Henry Cecil. Beauty Parlour is a formidable filly if her best 3-year-old performances – a win in the French 1000 Guineas and a second in the French Oaks – transfer to her 4-year-old season, but her final start last year produced a lackluster seventh-place finish in the Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket.

Saonois, the 2012 French Derby winner, also is in the Ispahan, but his three starts since winning the Sept. 16 Prix Niel over Secretariat Stakes winner Bayrir have come nowhere near his top performance level.

Fabre has Contender in Saint-Alary

Trainer Andre Fabre, who sent out second- and third-place finishers Esoterique and Tasaday in the French 1000 Guineas, appears to have another talented 3-year-old filly for the Saint-Alary in Alumna. Alumna makes her group stakes debut, but after winning her only start at 2, made an impressive 2013 bow in an April 25 conditions race at Longchamp.

The Saint-Alary filly with the best proven form is Silasol, winner of the Group 1 Marcel Boussac in her 2-year-old finale and second to Esoterique in the April 28 Prix Vanteaux, her only start at 3.