05/05/2009 12:00AM

Ideal distance for Debussy


Debussy will attempt to confirm his classic credentials at Chester on Thursday in the Group 3, $104,000 Chester Vase, a 1 1/4-mile, 66-yard prep for the Epsom Derby around the tightest left-handed course in England.

Debussy, a John Gosden-trained son of Diesis, is 2 for 2 this season, having taken a 10-furlong Polytrack maiden at Lingfield before winning the Blue Riband Trial at the same distance at Epsom on April 22. The Aidan O'Brien-trained Masterofthehorse, second in the Group 2 Beresford Stakes in September to last Saturday's 2000 Guineas winner and current Epsom Derby favorite Sea the Stars, is the likely favorite in a competitive event. The field also includes Above Average, who is the recent Groupo3 Sandown Classic Trial winner, and Too Much Trouble, the 18-length winner of a 1o1/2-mile Catterick allowance two weeks ago.

The week in Europe is packed with classic intrigue. Friday's Chester feature is the 1 1/4-mile, Group 3 Dee Stakes in which the undefeated Redwood, a Barry Hills-trained son of High Chaparral, will be looking for his third victory.

At Leopardstown on Sunday, O'Brien will send out his most promising Derby hopeful, Fame and Glory, in the 1 1/4-mile Derrinstown Derby Trial, a race O'Brien won with both Galileo and High Chaparral as a final stepping-stone to their Epsom Derby triumphs. The winner of the 1o1/4-mile, Group 1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud as a 2-year-old, Fame and Glory is a Montjeu colt who most recently won the 1 1/4-mile, Group 3 Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown on April 19.

Sunday is also the day when France doubles its classic pleasure at Longchamp with both the Poule d'Essai des Poulains (French 2000 Guineas) and the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (French 1000 Guineas).

Juvenile Group 1 winners Naaqoos and Intense Focus are both in the five-day entries for the French 2000, as are the first two finishers in the Group 3 Prix de Fontainebleau, Silver Frost and Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf runner-up Westphalia. Le Havre, who upset Naaqoos in the Prix Djebel, helps to make this a highly competitive renewal of the Poulains.

In the French 1000, Fantasia will try to ease the disappointment of George Strawbridge, whose Rainbow View faded to fifth as the favorite in Newmarket's 1000 Guineas last Sunday. Fantasia cruised to a seven-length victory in the Group 3 Nell Gwyn Stakes on April 15 and is the probable favorite for the Pouliches despite the presence of Proportional, who is the Prix Marcel Boussac winner, and Tamazirte, who beat Proportional into third in the Prix de la Grotte last month. Elusive Wave, second in the Marcel Boussac and the winner of the Prix Imprudence on April 10, looms a dangerous dark horse.