It was Prix Finot day at Auteuil on Tuesday. I have been waiting for the 3-year-old hurdlers to spring to life and the last couple of weeks have certainly been more encouraging than the Spring. When Jigme returns, he may find that there is more competition than he had before and the ratings for the hurdles races below do support that. With soft ground and heavy showers falling throughout the card, the times have slowed considerably when compared to the meetings last week and as a result we have a number of negative figures on the ratings. Officially it was "very Soft", but in truth it was probably a shade worse than that, particularly as the rain got into the ground. Just a basic look at the hurdles races reveals a clear picture that both of the Prix Finot contests are the races to focus on. They produced good figures when compared to the standard times for 3-year-olds and the winners, Kingland and in particular, Permis de Tuer, are worth noting. Kingland is a half-brother to Grade 1 winning chaser, Figuero. He did hold an entry in the Prix Rush in March, but was presumably in need of more time, although the professional performance he produced here would suggest that he could make his mark as a Juvenile before he heads over fences at some point next year. He looks a nice prospect, but I was more taken by Permis de Tuer as he did a lot of the work in front and still produced a strong time figure. He is a son of Castle du Berlais, whose Dam produced an extraordinary run of form in 2018 when she won over hurdles, fences and a cross-country course in the space of just 4-months. His pedigree doesn't leap off the page, but he showed a good attitude to get the better of Tisko du Champ and Keep On in the closing stages and looks an above average type for Noel George and Amanda Zetterholm.
I have also included the time comparisons for the 3 steeple-chases as well. All eyes were on Il Est Francais as he made his first start over fences and he duly delivered the performance that his very short price deserved. This was a very pleasing performance, but there is some context needed with his 5-length win over Kamchatka. He was entitled to win based on his hurdles rating and the 3-kilos that he was receiving from the second left him with the best part of 20-kilos, or 44lbs in hand. He made his own running and the time compares reasonably well with the other races on the card, but he has some way to go before he can be considered a Grade 1 chaser. He will obviously improve with experience and I can definitely understand the decision to go over fences with him as there is an open feeling to top class steeple-chasing in France. if he had remained over hurdles he would have been locking horns with Theleme and Hermes Baie, which looked a daunting assignment in the Spring and the Chasing route seems the better plan with him. However, some of the reaction to this win would suggest he is a certainty to reach the top over fences this autumn and the figures do not fully support that. Next time he runs, presumably up in class, he is likely to be a very short price again and I'd need to see him produce a better set of numbers before I would want to get stuck in at cramped odds.