The beautiful setting of Tarbes, just north of the Pyrenees is the setting for the early morning meeting in France this Tuesday. This right handed track is a decent schooling ground for young horses and this card would look to have a decent smattering of quality. We have a mix of racing for the thoroughbreds and races later on the card for the Arabians. I can't pretend to have a great deal of knowledge on the Arabian bred, so will stick to the thoroughbred racing earlier on the card. We start at 10:20 (UK time) with a maiden for the 2-year-olds over 1100m or 5 1/2 furlongs if you prefer. 7 of the 10 runners have had racecourse experience, but none of them have really taken the eye. The favourite in the early markets is Maroon Six, trained by Jayne Soubagne, who was 2nd on his debut at Lyon-Parilly last month. He made a nice start and got into a good early position, but looked to be relatively one paced and had every chance to win that contest, but seemed to lack the turn of foot to do so. He may improve for the benefit of that run and his rider, Alejandro Gutierez Val is well worth his 6lb claim, but at close to even money, I'm keen to take him on.
Based on the evidence we have, none of the horses who have experience have shown the speed for the minimum trip, so I have looked at the newcomers to find an angle. BAILEYS BLESSING, trained by the very capable William Walton definitely appeals on her breeding. By Supplicant, out of Mister Baileys mare, she is bred for sprinting and should be fairly precocious. She is a half-sister to 6 winners, 3 of which won as juveniles, so there is a good chance that she is capable of making a positive start to her career. I find it interesting that connections have supplemented her for this race and given that she also wear the blinkers on debut, I think it is fairly safe to assume that she has a decent level of speed about her and at around 10/1 in the early markets is worth an each-way play.
The star attraction on this card is undoubtedly Ethnic Type in Race 2. Trained by Jean-Claude Rouget, this 3-year-old Colt by Fast Company has definitely achieved a higher level of form than any other runner. He was unlucky enough to bump into 3 top class colts in a row last season. He was 2nd to Policy of Truth at Deauville in August, who was a Group 3 winner on his next start. Then he was 2nd to Botanik at Saint-Cloud, who went on to finish placed in the Group 1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud next time out. He then chased home Media Stream at Chantilly in November, a horse who has since placed at Listed Level. If we take that form literally, then I don't think there is any doubt that Ethnic Type should win this maiden, but you don't need me to tell you that an 8/13 favourite has a decent chance. However, the alternative view leaves hope for those who like to take on short priced runners. Jean-Claude Rouget has made a decent start to the season, as he showed with an excellent set of results at Paris Longchamp this weekend. With that in mind, he has chosen to send Ethnic Type to a small meeting in the provinces to try and pick up his maiden win, rather than aiming at a decent maiden at one of the Paris tracks. On debut last season, he ran a very average race at Lyon-Parilly, so after 154 days off, I'm keen to take him on. The horse I like is MASTERBOY, trained by Francois Rohaut. This son of Adelphos made a really nice start to his career when he finished 3rd at La Teste, making some good late headway to chase home 2 more experienced rivals, going down by less than 3 lengths. With the benefit of that experience, he may well find the improvement required to put it up to the favourite.
My final selection on the card comes in Race 3 at 11:20 (UK time). This is a wide open maiden for the 3-year-old fillies and with 8 of the 9 runners having reached the track already, there is much more form to go on than in the earlier races. I definitely respect the chances of Snow Empress, who was 3rd in a maiden at La Teste 3 weeks ago. As a daughter of Kingman, this 7-furlong trip on a flat track should suit and she did make some eye-catching late progress in that race at La Teste. However, she looked a fairly awkward ride, changing her legs and running with a high head carriage in the straight when asked for an effort. That race was run at a blistering pace and I can't help but think she was flattered by being held up and picking up the pieces as the pace collapsed. The filly I like is another trained by Francois Rohaut, Marie De Vega. She is a full sister to the very smart, Antonia De Vega (Ralph Beckett) and showed a great deal of speed in 4 runs as a juvenile. Whilst she ran with credit, she didn't manage to get her head in front and showed a lot of immaturity in her races. I can forgive her last start at Paris Longchamp in October, when she trailed in last of 8 over an inadequate 6-furlongs. She was outpaced and never really travelled with any fluency and was looked after once her chance had gone. With the benefit of a winter under her belt, she should have matured nicely and I think she will go very close in a race that should be run to suit.
The favourite in the early markets is Erdana, also trained by Jean-Claude Rouget. In time, she may well turn out to be the best of these, but as a daughter of the Sea the Stars, out of a Siyouni mare, this is likely to be very sharp for her and I think she is likely to find that everything happens too quickly for her. Marie De Vega definitely rates as a decent each-way chance to take down Erdana at this distance.
10.20 BAILEYS BLESSING 0.5 Point Each-Way
10.50 Master Boy 0.25 Point WIN
11.20 Marie De Vega 0.5 Point Each-Way