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Wild Illusion headlines G1 contenders at Deauville


Established G1 performers Wild Illusion and Musis Amica plus unbeaten two-year-old Earthlight feature among a strong Godolphin contingent at Deauville, France, on Sunday, 18 August.

Wild Illusion (Charlie Appleby/William Buick) goes for a fourth G1 victory in the Darley Prix Jean Romanet and the Dubawi filly is joined in the 10-furlong contest by last year’s G1 Prix de Diane runner-up Musis Amica (Andre Fabre/Mickael Barzalona).

Four-year-old Wild Illusion twice won at G1 level over the same distance last year, in the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood, UK, and the Prix de l’Opera at Longchamp, adding to her success in the mile G1 Prix Marcel Boussac at Chantilly in October, 2017.

Wild Illusion has made two appearances so far this year, both in G1 company, and kept on at the same pace to come home fourth on her latest outing in the 10-furlong Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh, Ireland, at the end of June.

Musis Amica captured the G3 Prix de la Grotte over a mile on heavy ground at Longchamp in April, 2018, and ran on strongly to go down by a neck to Laurens in the Prix de Diane over two and a half furlongs further at Chantilly two months later.

The four-year-old daughter of Dawn Approach has filled the runner-up spot in Listed races on both her outings this season, most recently when going down by half a length over 10 furlongs at Deauville on Sunday, 21 July.

A field of nine fillies and mares for the Darley Prix Jean Romanet also includes this season’s G1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud winner Coronet, G1 Sussex Stakes third I Can Fly and With You, who was successful in last season’s G1 Prix Rothschild.

Charlie Appleby said: “Wild Illusion found the going a little too quick at the Curragh but should find conditions at Deauville more to her liking.

“We feel that she appreciates some ease in ground these days, while she won two G1 races over this distance last season.

“Everything should be in her favour and she will be a major player if she can return to the level of form she showed during her three-year-old campaign.”

Lisa-Jane Graffard of Godolphin said: “Musis Amica has progressed with every race this season and we are hoping that she can return to the form she showed last year, which would give her a good chance.

“Andre Fabre has been very happy with her and feels that the ground will suit, particularly if there is more rain.”

Earthlight (Andre Fabre/Mickael Barzalona) steps up to G1 level for the six-furlong Darley Prix Morny following three impressive displays, including a four-length victory over the same course and distance in the G3 Darley Prix de Cabourg on Sunday, 28 July.

The Shamardal colt also scored decisively over six furlongs at Deauville in a conditions race at the start of July and started out with a neck success in an extended five-furlong newcomers’ contest at Maisons-Laffitte in June.

His seven rivals are headed by A’Ali, Raffle Prize and Arizona, who all won G2 races at Royal Ascot this year, plus G2 Richmond Stakes scorer Golden Horde.

Lisa-Jane Graffard said: “Earthlight is in fantastic form and we are really happy with him.

“He is a very exciting horse but a decision will be made at the last minute whether he runs or not. It depends completely on the ground conditions and Andre Fabre will make a decision before racing based on the horse’s best interests.

“We don’t want it to be heavy for Earthlight as he has a lovely action and appears to be a horse that prefers better ground.”

Elsewhere on Sunday’s card, four-year-old filly Lillian Russell (Henri-Alex Pantall/Mickael Barzalona) returns to Pattern company for the G2 Darley Prix Kergorlay over a mile and seven furlongs.

The daughter of Dubawi, a Listed winner over 14 furlongs at Maisons-Laffitte in September, ended her 2018 campaign with a close second in the 15-furlong G2 Prix Chaudenay at Longchamp. She failed to get competitive in the G3 Prix de Barbeville over just shy of two miles at Longchamp in April but ran a better race to take fourth in the Listed Prix du Carrousel over the same course and distance as the Darley Prix Kergorlay on Friday, 26 July.

Lillian Russell takes on eight others, with G1 Prix du Cadran winner Call The Wind and G1 Melbourne Cup runner-up Marmelo set to provide the main opposition.

Lisa-Jane Graffard said: “Lillian Russell ran a nice race last time out after a slight lay-off.

“While this looks a tough task for her on ratings, we are hoping that she can make the frame. She is a tough filly, who likes cut in the ground, and there are question marks regarding some of her rivals.

“We are hopeful of a good run and feel that she is really going to come into her own in the autumn.”