The Prix de Diane is a Group One race run at Chantilly exclusively for fillies, often referred to in the UK as the “French Oaks”. It is the fourth flat leg of the EpiqE series, a championship made up of the 14 most important races in France.
Thirteen fillies go to post on Sunday afternoon, among them one British and one Irish challenger. Here is a runner-by-runner form guide to a race steeped in history.
The Aga Khan’s Shahnaza is the general 3-1 favourite for this French Classic.
The filly, out of Azamour, was most impressive when winning the Listed De La Seine Stakes on the 6th May at Longchamp and has been at the head of the market ever since.
As an owner, the Aga Khan has won the Prix de Diane a record seven times with his last victory coming in 2012.
Happily started favourite for both the English and Irish 1,000 Guineas but could only manage third place on both occasions.
Stepping up now from a mile, the Aidan O’Brien filly probably boasts the strongest form line in the field having beaten two classic winning colts, Olmedo and the Derby winner, Masar, in last year’s Prix Jean Luc Lagadere.
Prix Saint-Alary scorer Laurens is the sole flag-bearer for the UK but she arrives in Chantilly with a fighting chance of taking the top prize.
The high-class three-year-old won the Fillies’ Mile last season and made her seasonal reappearance in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket, losing nothing in defeat to the shock 66/1 winner, Billesdon Brook.
She battled on well in the Alary, inflicting a first defeat upon Freddy Head’s With You.
Castellar put herself right in the Prix de Diane picture when by winning the Prix Cléopâtre (Gr3) by a neck from Luminate.
Winner of her maiden at Fontainebleau in March, she stayed for second place in her next outing in the Prix du Louvre.
Her trainer Carlos Laffon-Parias indicated that had she won that race she would have run next in the Poule, which in hindsight would have been too short for her.
Frankie Dettori receives the leg-up aboard Luminate at Chantilly on Sunday. She won both her starts as a two-year-old and made a winning start to this season, only to lose her unbeaten record in a dramatic Prix Cleopatre at Saint-Cloud.
Sent off the 2/5 favourite that day, she was deemed to have interfered with a rival by the strict French stewards, on her way to grabbing second place, which was just a short neck behind Castellar.
Having reviewed the evidence Luminate was demoted into fifth place.
The grey filly was beaten just over three lengths by Lady Athena at Chantilly last time out but really looks out of her depth here in this company.
Five career starts have heralded three placed efforts but she appears to be more of an All-weather type if anything.
Homerique was the only filly to be supplemented on Wednesday meaning that connections quite fancy her chances on Sunday.
Trained by Francis-Henri Graffard, Homerique was second to Luminate in the Prix Penelope last time out and will clash again with that Freddy Head-trained rival.
Homerique will be ridden by last year’s French champion jockey, P.C Boudot.
Bred out of Camelot, the Nicolas Clément- trained Amazing Lips is still a maiden after suffering from a bout of “seconditus” on all of her three runs.
Promoted to second after the demotion of Luminate in the Prix Cléopâtre, she could quite easily outrun her odds, but will more than likely find one of these too good for her again.
The daughter of a Listed winner in Italy, Lady Athena was bought for 170.000 € at the Arqana August yearlings sale in 2016.
Lady Athena was the easy winner of the Prix de la Chapelle-en-Serval (Class 1) at Chantilly last time out, accounting for a good field which included Zarkamiya, a well fancied daughter of Frankel.
Her trainer, Yan Durepaire, is 2/2 in the last fortnight and she looks well over-priced in the betting.
A winner on her only start at two at Saint-Cloud, she made a winning seasonal debut at Longchamp when landing the G3 Prix de la Grotte by over a length, despite showing signs of greenness.
Trained by Andre Fabre, the Godolphin homebred was by no means disgraced when finishing sixth in a bunched finish in the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (French 1000 Guineas) last time out.
Freddy Head is doubly represented in the race this year and he his bullish about the chances of both his charges.
With You was narrowly beaten by Laurens on her seasonal comeback in the Gurkha Coolmore Prix Saint-Alary at Longchamp last month and she will be looking to avenge that defeat.
The combination of George Strawbridge, Freddy Head and Aurelien Lemaitre were on the score sheet just last weekend when their Dallas Affair won the Morocco Cup - La Coupe (Group 3).
Barkaa was an easy winner of the Prix Vanteaux for three-year-old fillies, a trial for the Prix de Diane back in April, but she failed to get competitive in the French 1000 Guineas.
Barkaa, who previously raced in the colours of Gerard Augustin-Normand but has subsequently been purchased by American owners Peter Brant of White Birch Farm and Joseph Allen, has won three of her four starts.
Soustraction, trained by Carlos Laffon-Parias , won on her debut at Chantilly as a two-year-old but then failed to hit the frame in the seven runner Prix Marcel Boussac at the Arc meeting.
She was second on her reappearance to Barkka in the Prix Vanteaux Fillies Stakes but was probably inconvenienced by the going that day.
Her most recent run saw her in the mix, running just behind Laurens and With You in the Prix Saint-Alary.
888sport suggests: Homerique (e/w).
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*