This is French Racing fans Christmas, Arc Week. All eyes are on Paris, weather watching and a countdown to the draw are the order of the day. However, before we get there we have an excellent jumps card today at Auteuil, with the Listed Bayonnet Chase as the feature race. As the British jump season starts to gather pace, the French one is reaching its climax, with the Grand Steeple de Paris meeting just a few weeks away. Todays feature is a nice appetiser to get stuck into.
On paper this looks to be a relatively straight forward assignment for David Cottin’s charge, GENERAL EN CHEF. He was successful over Course and Distance on 9th September, this son of Martaline made it 2 from 2 over fences.
Want of a Nail, 2nd to the selection last time out reopposes here, as does Je Deviens Moi, who fell 2 out. Whilst General En Chef has to give weight to the field, he carried 18lbs more than Want of a Nail in their last meeting and was still able to dominate, pulling 6 lengths clear on the run to the line. He could be very hard to beat.
There is a very solid favourite, but I can definitely make a case for JE DEVIENS MOI. This horse was travelling extremely well behind General En Chef last time when he came down 2 out. Having been held up he had made smooth progress in the back straight to get within a length when he guessed at the Hedge fence and unshipped Steven Colas 2 out. Provided he has recovered from that fall (he galloped away fine) I believe there is some definite value in his price as an each-way selection against General En Chef as I don’t think there is as much between them as the market suggests.
WANT OF A NAIL has run some very solid races in recent weeks, but he looks to be well held by General En Chef, as he closed to within a length jumping the last when they met here in September, but finished 6 lengths behind as he pulled clear. On that evidence, there is nothing to suggest he can reverse that form.
LE LUDE, for Francois Nicolle, would also be of interest on some of his form. He was last seen finishing 7th in the Grade 1 Prix Ferdinand Dufaure Chase on Heavy ground. That form is solid, if not spectacular, as is his win on his previous start in a conditions chase over course and distance here at Auteuil. My biggest concern with Le Lude would be his run style, he is a front runner and with General En Chef in this field he is going to have some competition up front in this race. It was very noticeable at Compiegene that once he was headed, the toys appeared to come out of the pram and he was quickly beaten. I have watched his last 4 starts and I have yet to see him go past a horse, so his backers may well know their fate early on.
There are 2 other runners in this field, AFFORTUNATO and RICOCHET, who are nice horses, but have at least 20lbs of improvement to find if they are going to feature.