05/07/2009 11:00PM

French Guineas notables: Filly sharp, colt vulnerable

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Longchamp's Guineas Sunday offers not one but two highly competitive classic miles as Fantasia seeks to confirm her high promise in the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches for fillies, while Naaqoos faces a stern challenge from a trio of recent winners in the Poule d'Essai des Poulains for colts.

The Luca Cumani-trained Fantasia looked like a potential world-beater cruising to a seven-length victory in the seven-furlong, Group 3 Nell Gwyn Stakes at Newmarket April 15. Purchased by George Strawbridge after her second-place finish to Rainbow View in the Fillies Mile last September, she was routed to this $535,000 French 1000 Guineas to avoid a Newmarket Guineas clash with Rainbow View, who is also owned by Strawbridge.

In Tamazirte, Fantasia faces the winner of the Group 3 Prix de la Grotte, the Pouliches course-and-distance prep in which Tamazirte, trained by Jean-Claude Rouget, defeated Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac winner Proportional by three-quarters of a length into third, the pair split by Soneva, who also lines up on Sunday. Elusive Wave, the two-length winner of the listed seven-furlong Prix Imprudence on April 10, has a license to improve for Rouget.

Trainer Freddie Head has always had the highest regard for Naaqoos, who took French juvenile honors by winning the seven-furlong, Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at Longchamp on Oct. 5. Naaqoos flunked his Guineas prep, however, when he ran second in the listed, seven-furlong Prix Djebel at Maisons-Laffitte on April 10, and there are doubts about the ability of this Oasis Dream colt to stay the mile of the $535,000 Poule d'Essai de Poulains, or French 2000 Guineas.

The Djebel winner, the Rouget-trained Le Havre, will have his supporters, as will the first two home in the Group 3 Prix de Fontainebleau, Silver Frost and Westphalia, who previously had just failed to hold off Donativum in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. Vocalised, winner of the seven-furlong, Group 3 Tetrarch Stakes at the Curragh on Monday and already the winner of three races this spring, is a surprise entry from Jim Bolger as it was expected that he would wait for the Irish 2000 Guineas on May 23. A Vindication colt, he has as much chance of winning the Poulains as do at least four of his rivals.

* The list of 155 horses nominated to the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe on Oct. 4 includes the name of Grand Couturier. Trained by Robert Ribaudo for Marc Keller, Grand Couturier is a three-time Grade 1 winner at 1 1/2 miles, the Arc distance, since arriving in America in July 2006. A 6-year-old son of Grand Lodge, he was previously trained by Jean-Claude Rouget in France, where he won the listed 1 1/2-mile Derby du Midi in Bordeaux and was just 2 1/4 lengths fourth in the 1 1/2-mile, Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp behind subsequent Arc winner Rail Link.