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Cole sends Duke to take on French star Persian King in Prix de Fontainebleau

Persian King, France's leading two-year-old last season, makes his eagerly awaited seasonal debut in the Group 3 Prix de Fontainebleau, a race which also features stablemate Epic Hero, who scored by eight lengths at Chantilly last month. 

Facing up to the two Classic pretenders from the Andre Fabre/Godolphin team is Duke Of Hazzard, who recorded his two best performances last season in France – beaten a short head by Al Hilalee in the Criterium du Fonds before gaining his Listed success at Deauville in the Prix Isonomy last October. 

"He's in great form and is a very progressive young horse," said Oliver Cole, assistant to his father Paul. "We don't really know how good he is and where he goes next will depend on the outcome of this race.

"He holds a Qipco 2,000 Guineas but I would say he's more likely to run in the French equivalent at this stage."

Persian King boasts the best form among the five runners, though, having held Magna Grecia a shade cosily in the Autumn Stakes at Newmarket in October, a win which prompted Godolphin to buy a half share from the Wildenstein family's Ballymore Thoroughbreds.

"Persian King is a very laid back horse from what I've seen," said Godolphin's Lisa-Jane Graffard. "He's still not the finished article but his future looks very bright.

"Epic Hero was very impressive in a Class 1 race and, while it's not ideal to run the two of them together, it seemed like the safest option to stay close to home given his lack of experience.

"These races at Longchamp along with the trials at Newbury and Newmarket are all things that will come into play before a final decision is made on either of them."

Tuite makes return trip with Thunder

Joe Tuite almost pulled off quite a coup when Surrey Thunder was caught on the line by Talk Or Listen in the Listed Prix Francois Mathet, and is back in search of more Euros in the Group 3 Prix Noailles (4.35) over 1m2½f. 

"He was very unlucky to be beaten only a nose at Saint-Cloud last time in Listed company. This is a little step up but he's in cracking form," said Tuite. "The drying ground is a little worrying as it will be the first time he has encountered it."

Syrtis was last seen when chasing subsequent Breeders' Cup hero Line Of Duty home and is among Fabre's more frequently-cited candidates for the Jockey Club, while Lone Peak is highly thought of by Freddy Head and should be suited by this trip having chased home Persian King at Chantilly last September.

Boussac heroine Lily's Candle returns

Lily's Candle sprang something of a surprise when finishing fast to land the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac on Arc day when trained by Fabrice Vermeulen, having been bought on the eve of the race by Martin Schwartz.

The daughter of Style Vendome makes her first start at three in the Group 3 Prix de la Grotte (2.50) and is now in the care of Head, having passed through the Arqana ring once more and into the ownership of Katsumi Yoshida.

"She seems very well and I'm happy with her, though it's a little difficult to tell as it will be her first run for me," said Head. "I hope she's up to going very close here, even if I have a feeling she might be more of a ten furlong filly in time."

Owner Gerard Augustin-Normand could have a big say here with both Rocques and Montviette, while Frederic Rossi has high hopes for Cala Tarida, who swamped her rivals late on in the Prix des Reservoirs last October.

"She did it nicely in the Reservoirs and everything has gone smoothly with her since so I expect a good comeback run," said Rossi.

"She has done well physically and looks really well for this time of the year, so I'm hoping she can confirm her quality and book her ticket for the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches." 

Simon Crisford saddles Imperial Charm, who impressed when breaking her maiden by four and a half lengths at Newmarket last backend and makes a first start in Pattern company here under Andrea Atzeni.

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