ANGERS - 22nd February
French jumps action has left the winter series at Pau and Cagnes-Sur-Mer far behind and this Monday sees the 2nd week of action at Angers. This is tight right handed track which represents a very stiff jumping test, especially on the Chase course, which runs on the inner loop and has some extremely tight bends.
The action kicks of at 9:50 UK time with a conditions race on the Flat, I can’t find any angle into that but in the 2nd race (10:20), the Plessis Mace Chase for 4-year-olds, HARMONIE DE COTTE stands out as my best bet on the card. In truth, this race won’t take much winning if recent form is anything to go by and this daughter of Tiger Groom would look to have a clear class edge over her rivals. Trained by the Peltiers, she has bumped into some very decent rivals this winter, including when 3rd last time at Pau behind Gardiala. Harmonie De Cotte did too much on the front end that day and was picked off by Gardiala who tracked in behind. However, that was an excellent effort and she should be able to dominate this race on a track that favours front runners.
At 10:50 we have the Isopani Chase for the older horses over 2m 2 1/2 furlongs. Francois Nicolle has had a quiet spell recently, but he has had 3 winners in the last 14 days (3 from 22 runners, 13%) and there are some signs that the yard is starting to pick up, which should be aided here by GLORICE. This horse has been absent since finishing 3rd behind the well thought of Garkapstar at Compiegne in November. He was left far too much to do that day, behind a progressive winner who made the running. However, he ran on nicely to close in the straight and that run was a career best. This is certainly an easier assignment and he should take this in some style before moving on the better targets later in the spring.
My final selection comes in the last race at 1:05, where APOLLO CREED would look to be some decent value in the early markets. Trained (and owned) by Gerard Lecomte, Apollo Creed arrives here on the back of an excellent run at Pau in January, when he finished 3rd behind the very well handicapped pair of Radiologue and Bandero. Apollo Creed raced prominently on that occasion, in a race that was run at a very strong gallop. He hit the front 4 out, which was probably too soon and was readily picked off by Radiologue after the 2nd last. However, to his credit, he battled on really well to finish 3rd, in spite of having raced against the pace bias. That was a very good effort and having been given 7 weeks to recover, he should go very close. There is a lurker in this field, Melchief, who has a very impressive CV in the context of this race, including a win in a Listed hurdle at Auteuil. However, he has been plagued by injury and has raced just once in the last 2 years, when he fell at Saint Brieuc in November. If he retains his ability, then he may be a class above this field, but I can’t imagine this will be his main aim and given that he is likely to be ridden more for the benefit of the run, I think Apollo Creed may well be able to get the better of him on Monday.
10.20 Harmonie De Cotte 1 Point Win
10.50 Gloria 0.5 Point Win
13.05 Apollo Creed 0.5 Points Each-Way