Racing: Brittain puts French accent on preparation: The 1,000 Guineas winner should quickly acclimatise when she takes on the home team at Deauville on Sunday

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The Independent Online
CLIVE BRITTAIN has stopped just short of serving croissants and cranking up Maurice Chevalier records at his stable as he guides Sayyedati towards the Prix Jacques le Marois at the weekend.

The Newmarket trainer believes the home side's formidable record in the Deauville race - Lear Fan in 1984 was the last British winner - owes much to following a typical French preparation. 'It's a race that falls in with the French pattern of training, of racing in the spring and then having a break,' he said yesterday. 'It's a French race geared to French horses.'

But this year it is also a race geared to the programme of Sayyedati, who has been left on the sofa for much of the season so as to preserve her powers for later in the year. 'We're aiming for the Breeders' Cup, which means that if we're going to have her right at the back-end of the season she had to have a nice, long break,' Brittain said yesterday.

The filly was consequently missing from the track for three months after her win in the 1,000 Guineas, returning two weeks ago to run second to Bigstone in the Sussex Stakes. 'The Sussex will have sharpened her up for Sunday and I think we're going over there with a French preparation behind us and primed to win the race,' Brittain said.

The trainer himself has a reasonable record in the mile race, having finished second with Radetzky in 1976 and third 11 years later, with Hadeer. This though is a Group One event which usually sees a pattern within the French pattern. One of Francois Boutin and Stavros Niarchos meeting in the parade ring, watching the race and smiling in the winners' enclosure. The trainer-owner partnership has won this race for four of the last six years, and will be favourites to further improve that record when Kingmambo, the French Guineas and Royal Ascot winner, goes into battle at the weekend.

Brittain, though, has never been afraid of the prospect of putting Sayyedati in with male company, and she would have tested the colts before the Sussex Stakes had circumstances been slightly different.

'We were going to go over for the Heinz '57' (at Leopardstown) last year because I was sure she would have beaten the colts, but she was a little bit off colour so we shelved it,' Brittain said. 'It was then a toss up between the Dewhurst and the Cheveley Park (in which she beat Lyric Fantasy), and for some time I thought about the 2,000 Guineas instead of the 1,000.'

Since her Classic success the rangy Sayyedati has become a more substantial figure, both competitively and bodily. 'She's made improvement physically since the start of the season and mentally she's more settled and relaxed in her races which allows her to produce this great turn of foot,' Brittain said. 'During her break she put on 26 kilos, which was condition rather than grass fat because she was ridden every day for her normal exercise.'

The filly provided a telling piece of work on Saturday, as did her stable-mate Shambo, who is lined up to contest Britain's top event this weekend, the Group Two Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury. The six-year-old beat just three rivals in winning the race 12 months ago, and, following the three-horse farce for the leading contest at Haydock last weekend, a small field again looks likely this Saturday with eight entered at the five-day stage.

Brittain does not mind this (he has seen Shambo earn place money in poorly contested events several times before), and he will again be represented by a runner who can mix easily with the opposite sex. 'He's one of those older horses who has maintained his form and may even have improved a little bit,' the trainer said. 'His attitude to racing is good and while he is a big, strong horse he hasn't got too oversexed and he still goes out to race the opposition rather than do anything else to them.'

(Photograph omitted)