04/26/2013 3:52PM

France: Giofra merits slight edge in Prix Ganay


Just as one would expect from the first Group 1 flat race of the European season, the Prix Ganay on Sunday at Longchamp will be the best race in Europe run so far in 2013.

The Ganay, contested over about 1 3/16 miles over going expected to be good, drew a field of nine runners, several of whom can win, but the two horses who were readied earlier in the spring for a trip to Dubai, Dunaden and Giofra, could hold a fitness edge on their comebacking counterparts.

Dunaden is the more accomplished of the pair, his biggest win having come in the 2011 Melbourne Cup, but Giofra may be the more appealing in terms of Sunday’s race. The Melbourne Cup, in which Dunaden could only finish 14th in 2012, is a two-mile race, and Dunaden has not tried a distance shorter than 1 1/2 miles since August 2010. Since July, he has raced in England, Australia, Hong Kong, and Dubai, though he looked no worse for his world travel in a decent fourth-place finish March 30 in the Group 1 Sheema Classic.

The 5-year-old mare Giofra better suits the Ganay’s trip, and she appears to be in even better form than Dunaden. Giofra finished second to hometown hero California Memory in the Group 1 Hong Kong Cup in December at Sha Tin, and she ran into a buzzsaw at Meydan when third behind Sajjhaa in the Group 1 Dubai Duty Free. The World Cup meeting featured a fast-playing, very firm turf course, but Giofra can handle wet ground, as well, having finished second behind Cirrus des Aigles in the 2012 Ganay, which was contested in heavy going.

Making their 2013 debuts are Pastorius, who probably will turn out to be the best older horse based in Germany this year, and Saonois, who upset the French Derby last summer but was soundly beaten in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and 10th of 11 in the Hong Kong Cup. Ridasiyna, also racing for the first time this season, was last seen finishing fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf, her first start after winning the Group 1 Prix de l’Opera at Longchamp last fall.