Thursdays French action starts at Moulins, a beautiful dual purpose track in central France. The right-handed flat track, with its tight bends and long straights can be a very difficult test, especially for inexperienced horses, whilst the jumps track on the inside is extremely tight and requires a lot of tactical speed and balance to be successful. Thursdays card starts at 10:50 (UK time), with 4 flat races followed by 3 over jumps. Whilst the quality isn't quite as good as the premium meeting at Paris Longchamp later in the day, there are still some nice types on show.
The opening race is a Class 3 conditions race for the older horses over 5-furlongs and in truth this probably won't take a great deal of winning. STORMBRINGER, trained by Gavin Hernon is likely to be a very warm order to take this. Formerly trained in the UK by Kevin Ryan, this gelding by Dutch Art was the winner of a decent handicap over 6-furlongs at Chantilly last season and was even tried in a Group 3 behind Space Blues at Paris Longchamp in June. Although he wasn't up to that level, he is in much calmer waters here and on the official ratings would look to have 10 kilos in hand on his rivals here. Although the drop to 5-furlongs probably isn't ideal, he looks to have enough in hand to get away with it. The viable option for the forecast would be INTREPID ITALIAN from the O'Halloran yard. This 4-year-old by Havana Gold ran with credit when trained by Richard Hannon in the UK, winning a couple of 6-furlong handicaps at Lingfield and achieving a mark of 80. He is bred for this sort of trip, being a half-brother to Fashion Queen, who was Listed winner over 5-furlongs for David O'Meara in 2017. He does have a 230 day absence to overcome, but is the most likely challenger to Stormbringer, though at the early prices there is probably more value in the reverse forecast than the win bet.
The 3rd race on the card at 11:50 is a Claimer for older horses over 7-furlongs and probably the best bet on the card is KOKKINOLAIMIS from the Borgel yard. This 4-year-old by Lilbourne Lad was a prolific winner when trained in Greece and has run with great credit in 6 starts in France since the turn of the year. Having already won twice at this level at Marseille last month, he was stepped up in both class and trip when he finished mid-division at Chantilly 3 weeks ago, when he probably didn't quite get home over the 9-furlong trip. The return to this level and more importantly the 7-furlong trip are the key points to note and he should be able to get into a prominent position under his talented jockey, Delphine Santiago, who takes off a useful 3lbs. Perhaps the biggest danger in the race is Elwind, trained by the Botti yard, who has been supplemented for the race. She has been running at a higher level in recent times and has made the frame on each of her last 3 starts in claiming races. She does receive weight from Kokkinolaimis, but her overall profile is somewhat sketchy and she hasn't managed to get her head in front since she made her debut in September 2019, 13 starts ago.
My final selection on the card comes in race 5 at 1:05, where we have a Chase over 2-miles and 2-furlongs and it is definitely a pick for British racing fans. Nick Littmoden made the decision to switch his training operation to France at the end of last year and has chosen to take CAPTAIN SPEAKING with him. This 6-year-old was highly progressive over fences last autumn, winning his last 3 starts and rising 30lbs in the process to a UK rating of 118. He beat several subsequent winners during that spell and did so in a manner that suggested he had not finished improving. He looks to have been found a very good opportunity to get his French career off to a flyer on Thursday at Moulins and given that his last win was at Fakenham, he should be well suited by this tight turning chase track. MY WAY, trained by the Lageneste Macaire team and ridden by Nathalie Desoutter is likely to be a very warm order for this race and on form, looks to have a favourites chance. However, he arrives here on the back of a heavy fall at Compiegne 10 days ago and may struggle to give weight to a progressive rival like Captain Speaking, even with Nathalie Desoutter's valuable claim.
10:50 Stormbringer/Intrepid Italian - Rev Forecast 0.5 Points
11:50 Kokkinolaimis - 0.5 Point WIN
1:05 Captain Speaking - 0.5 Point WIN