Royal Ascot may have finished, but we still have Group 1 action in prospect over in France on Sunday as the Prix de Diane takes centre stage over at Chantilly. This race has been won by some top-class fillies down the years and has attracted a strong 2022 line-up which includes Oaks third Nashwa. Check out our expert’s in-depth preview of the race below, alongside Betfair‘s exclusive Bet £10 Get £30 In Free Bets new customer offer.
Nashwa Aims for Group 1 Glory
The Gosden’s Nashwa looked like a well-above-average filly earlier this year, adding to a wide-margin Haydock novice win when landing the Listed Haras De Bouquetot at Newbury in May, form which has been franked since with the second going in at the same level on her next start.
Sent off just 4/1 for the Oaks a little over a fortnight ago, Nashwa ran a fine race in third there under regular pilot Hollie Doyle, hanging down the Epsom camber inside the final furlong, shaping as though the 1m4f trip just stretched her stamina reserves – which had been a concern prior to the race.
This daughter of Frankel drops back to an extended 1m2f on Sunday, which will suit, and this more conventional track is also likely to help. This will be the softest ground that Nashwa has faced, but her dam handled an ease, and her stable knows what it takes to land this prize, having sent out the 2015 winner Star Of Seville.
Home Challenge Headed by Agave
Andre Fabre somewhat surprisingly hasn’t managed to land the Prix de Diane since 2011, but he aims to correct that with the four runners on Sunday, the market favouring Agave of his quartet.
This Juddmonte filly is from a family that the trainer knows well, being the second foal out of their Group-placed Contribution, herself a half-sister to the top-class dual Arc winner Enable.
Agave won her first three racecourse starts before finding Onesto too strong in the Group 2 Prix Greffulhe at Saint-Cloud last time.
Jean-Claude Rouget has landed four renewals of the Diane since 2008 and he has the sole representative in 2022 in Yukata. This Galileo filly runs in the White Birch Farm silks and endured a nightmare passage when sent off the favourite for a Listed contest at Longchamp last month. Bred to appreciate this step up in trip, she looks interesting but has a wide draw to overcome in stall 14.
Christophe Soumillon was seen to his brilliant best aboard Perfect Power at Royal Ascot earlier this week, yet the Belgian hasn’t managed to win the French Oaks since scoring aboard Zarkava back in 2008. He aims to correct that when teaming up with Rosacea on Sunday afternoon.
Stephane Wattel’s filly racked up a four-timer when taking the Group 3 Prix de la Grotte at Longchamp on her seasonal debut, where she had the subsequent French 1000 Guineas winner Mangoustine back in third.
Rosacea didn’t appear to have any excuses when that rival reversed the form at Longchamp and whilst Soumillon now takes over in the saddle she has stamina to prove over this trip and has a very wide draw to overcome in stall 17.
O’Brien Outsider Aims to Bounce Back
Coolmore has landed the last two renewals of the French Oaks, with Fancy Blue scoring for Donnacha O’Brien in 2020 before Joan Of Arc took the prize for Aidan O’Brien 12 months ago.
The latter has Toy entered up for the same team here, a filly certainly bred for this assignment being a full sister to Joan Of Arc, as well as 2000 Guineas winner Gleneagles and Irish 1000 Guineas winner Marvellous.
Toy broke her maiden at Cork in April, yet she beat only four rivals’ home in the French 1000 Guineas subsequently and she has ground to make up with the likes of Rosacea and Times Square on that running.
Prix de Diane Big Race Verdict
The Gosden’s last took this prize with Star Of Seville in 2015 and they look set for another French Oaks here courtesy of NASHWA. This filly looked well above average earlier this season, impressively winning what has since turned out to be a strong Listed race at Newbury in May. She couldn’t quite live with Tuesday and Emily Upjohn in the Oaks subsequently, when both the trip and track looked against her and dropped back in distance on a more conventional circuit with regular pilot Hollie Doyle travelling over to do the steering, she can be expected to return to winning ways. Jean-Claude Rouget’s recent record in this makes Yukata of immediate interest, particularly as the filly endured a nightmare run at Longchamp last time. She rates the main danger to the selection ahead of Place Du Carrousel, who’s a stamina-laden pedigree and therefore can be expected to thrive if this turns into a dour test.