Racing: Zainta the French fancy

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The Independent Online
ZAINTA will take on 10 rivals when she bids to give the Aga Khan a second straight win in today's Prix de Diane Hermes (French Oaks) at Chantilly.

The unbeaten filly, who is a grand-daughter of that great French filly of yesteryear, Petite Etoile, faces a rematch with Loving Claim who chased her home in the Prix Saint-Alary, the premier French Oaks trial, at Longchamp last time out.

Good Enough, who was third in the Saint-Alary, may prove best of the remainder in a field consisting solely of French-trained fillies.

Alain de Royer-Dupre, Zainta's trainer, is concerned his filly may be going off the boil. He said: "If she repeats her Saint-Alary form, Zainta should go close, but it is her fourth race of the season. She looks beautiful and I hope she's kept her form, although it's difficult to judge."

Criquette Head, who trains Loving Claim, said: "I would like firm ground [it is good to soft] and a strong pace. I think the blinkers will help and she seems well. The trip should not worry her."

The Niarchos family and Cash Asmussen, who won last Sunday's French Derby with Dream Well, are hopeful about their contender Insight. Alan Cooper, the Niarchos's racing manger, said: "She's taken a little time to come to herself and gave the impression in the Prix de Sandringham that she would be suited by a longer trip."

The provincial trainer Dominique Sepulchre runs Abbatiale and Another dance. He said: "Abbatiale [the Prix Penelope winner] has the right to take her chance. She's a very tough filly and loves soft ground."

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