Ed Walker is anticipating a bold show from “massively exciting” Primo Bacio as she bids to further enhance the outstanding form of this year’s Falmouth Stakes in the Prix Rothschild at Deauville.
Alcohol Free and Lady Bowthorpe — the two fillies who finished directly, and less than a length, in front of Primo Bacio at Newmarket — both augmented their Group One CVs with victory at Goodwood last week.
In addition, Aidan O’Brien’s Mother Earth — who reopposes today and finished just a length ahead of Primo Bacio when they last met — was also the heroine of the 1000 Guineas in May and runner-up in the French equivalent.
They all therefore support Lambourn trainer Walker’s assessment of the “hottest renewal of the Falmouth in history” — and he has no doubt his filly is worthy of her place in a 14-strong edition of the feature race on Deauville’s classy card.
He said: “I’m very hopeful. She’s only had three runs this year, and the only time she had an uninterrupted passage she absolutely trotted up.
“She is massively exciting, and she’s in great form.”
Primo Bacio will face a strong home contingent — including Francis Henri-Graffard’s prolific winner Padovana, Jean-Claude Rouget’s French Guineas heroine Coeursamba and Pascal Bary’s Tahlie, who is seeking a fifth successive victory.
German mare Axana is in the reckoning as well, while the British and Irish challenge also comprises Parent’s Prayer for Archie Watson, Jessica Harrington’s No Speak Alexander and Sheila Lavery’s Belle Image — third and fourth respectively in the Irish Guineas.
Primo Bacio will be having just the fourth start of her three-year-old season, having outrun huge odds to be a close fourth to Alcohol Free on her return at Newbury in April and then won emphatically in Listed company at York.
Walker added: “We haven’t had to do a lot with her since the Falmouth to keep her happy and well.
“This year, we seem to have found the hottest renewal of the Falmouth in history.
“It’s unbelievable really — the Sussex winner, the Nassau winner — and we were only beaten a length and a half, with an interrupted passage (in running).
“We’ve got to turn the form round with Mother Earth — which I wouldn’t bet against her doing.
“We’re just hoping we have a smooth trip, and if she does I think she’ll be bang there.”
Primo Bacio, who will again be ridden by Andrea Atzeni in France, was a late absentee in the Coronation Stakes after a deluge at Royal Ascot turned the ground heavy.
Good to soft is forecast at Deauville, and Walker does not expect that to pose a problem.
Asked if very testing conditions might be against Primo Bacio, he said: “I don’t know, to be honest.
“She’s such a good-moving filly, with a deadly turn of foot. (But) it was on the slow side at York when she won very well. She’s by Awtaad, who loved the mud and is producing some really good horses with soft-ground form.
“If you forget her pedigree and just look at her physically, you’d say she’s a proper fast-ground filly — but you never really know until you try.”
In any case, he is in no doubt he made the right call to take Primo Bacio out of her intended Group One debut in June.
He said: “At Ascot, it was only going to be the third run of her season — and that stiff mile and really bottomless ground, I just didn’t feel a slog would suit her.
“So I had no regrets missing Ascot, even if she does prove to go with a bit of cut in the ground, because I just think at that time of her season it wouldn’t have been the right thing to do.
“But we’re here now, and she’ll run regardless — (and) I think as long as it is just good to soft ground she’ll be absolutely fine.”