It's the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe on Sunday and I completely understand that this is the main focus. However, once this weekends meeting at Paris Longchamp is over the attention will quickly move on to the Jumpers again and there were several performances on todays Auteuil card that were worthy of note. I have stated on this blog earlier in the season that I felt that the French 3-year-olds were slightly below average this year and as we headed into the middle of the summer that looked to be the case. Racings return at Auteuil this month has completely changed my opinion as we have seen a whole host of decent performances by the Juvenile hurdlers and it may simply have been the case that they needed more time. Todays card was no exception to that and there were 3 Juveniles who really caught the eye for next time.
I will start with the Newcomers race, the Prix Pride of Kildare. This race was won by Gust of Wind last season. He finished ahead of Jit Langy before both of them left France to join Willie Mullins, with subsequent Cheltenham Festival winner Jazzy Matty back in 5th. Who knows what this years race will provide, but before the race began there was some eye-catching movement on the PMU with continued support for Noel George and Amanda Zetterholm's newcomer Clovis for King. In a 16-runner newcomers hurdle, he was 2.6 on the PMU shortly before the start, which would suggest that he had been showing plenty at home. The yard have been enjoying a rich vein of form with 8 winners from their last 15 runners before today and Clovis For King was ridden like he was the good thing the market suggested. Having been sent on in front by Nicolas Gauffenic he looked to be in control as they turned for home. However, having set a strong gallop he wasn't able to sustain his effort and eventually faded to finish 5th. The time for this race was 4-seconds quicker than the Grade 3 won by Kara Diamond over the same course and distance and when you watch the races side by side it is obvious that Clovis For King is going much quicker in the early stages. He paid for that effort and set the race up for the winner, Kibboutz, who stayed on strongly to make a winning start for Simon Munir and Francois Nicolle. He benefitted from a patient ride from Kevin Nabet, but the market confidence behind the George and Zetterholm horse, along with the point and shoot riding tactics, still make him of interest. Both the horse and his connections will have learnt from this next time and he should be given a more patient ride to help him realize his potential.
The other 2 horses that I wanted to highlight have much more form in the book and both of them have already embarked on their chasing careers. I will start with Fabuleux Rico. He was 4th behind the much touted Sir Gino and Salvator Mundi in the Prix Wild Monarch backing April before getting his head in front on his second start at Compiegne a month later. He returned from his summer break to finish 4th to Game of Storm in the 3-year-old chase today, making too many small errors to do himself justice, but he shaped like a horse who will improve for Steeple-Chasing as his pedigree suggests he will. The winning time today compares reasonably well and the winner, who got a superb ride from Angelo Zuliani, had more experience jumping fences after a solid 3rd placed finish here earlier in the month. With the benefit of this run, his first for over 4-months, he should be much sharper next time and there will surely be a race for him over fences in the near future.
The final horse that I wanted to highlight also ran in the 3-year-old Chase. Dschingis Love has already won 3 times this summer for the Lageneste and Macaire yard, winning a Flat race on debut at Royan before landing a pair of hurdle races at Clairefontaine. Her connections have been quick to send her over fences and she has been given a pair of educational rides over the larger obstacles at Auteuil this month. On both occasions she has been allowed plenty of time at her obstacles, which seems to be turning her into a very sound jumper and she made eye-catching headway to close on the leader and finish a never nearer second after she jumped the final flight today. I hand timed her from the 2nd last to the line and she made up just under a second on the winner in the closing stages, to suggest she will at least be capable of getting closer to Game of Storm. She is a 3-year-old Filly who has already won 3 races in her Juvenile year, but she is shaping like a horse who is still capable of more improvement and she looks like a horse that the yard are lining up for another win before the season is finished.
For those interested, I have also put some basic time comparisons for the winners of todays races below.