Best Bet - 20th January
Cagnes-Sur-Mer takes a break on Thursday and we head to Pau for a split card with 4 races over obstacles and 4 on the all-weather track.
2:52 Pau - LAMORNA COVE - 0.25pts Each-Way (15/2 Bet365)
Conditions races are one of the best angles into French racing and there is certainly a lesson here that can be learned by the authorities in the UK and elsewhere about the need to diversify away from a handicap system. The final race at Pau on Thursday is a good example, with a field of 10 going to post who, for varying reasons, would struggle in handicaps on their current ratings. This is a Class 3 contest over the mile for horses who have winning prize money of €9500 or less in the last year and where the weights carried are essentially determined by any wins they have had since April 2021. As with any race at this level, there is quite a lot of “deadwood” to sift through and after a decent study of the form I think we can bring it down to a field of 5.
LEPTI PRINSADI heads the field and on balance, has probably achieved the most in this lineup. He has won only once in his career, in a similar contest over 2200m at Cavaillon in October, but he has made the frame in 6 of his 10 starts and is the horse most likely to run his race. He drops back to 1-mile for the first time and that would be a concern, given that his best form is over further. His official rating of 36kg is fair on what he has shown, but his win came in a weak provincial race and the likelihood is he will be outpaced at this trip, especially as he has weight to give away.
Jean-Claude Rouget is already amongst the winners this week and at this time of year any horse he enters is worthy of respect, so that brings ELCOT into the equation. 2nd on debut at Tarbes in October, he finished 5th at Lyon La Soie on his last start, a run that looks a touch disappointing given that he was in the ideal position behind the leader for most of the contest. When the pace lifted he was taken off his feet and although he kept on, he gives the impression he will need a stiffer test than Pau to bring out the best of his ability.
Winning form is in relatively short supply in this field, so we do need to respect the chances of DREAM IN MY HEAD and VIRIMOON ETOILE. The former won a Class 3 contest at Nimes last year and has some substantial form at a higher level than this, including when 3rd at Bordeaux in November. He has been off since but the Brogi yard is more than capable of getting a horse fit so the break is of no concern. He is also the likely pace angle in the race, but whether he has the speed to sprint when it matters is a concern and he may also need further. Virimoon Etoile also likes to race handily and having won here in December, she was unlucky over this course and distance 2 weeks ago when she was caught in the final strides having been ridden forwards from a wide draw. Most of the other connections in the race will be hoping that these 2 go forwards and set a decent pace to aim at, which they might, especially as they both have a reasonable draw.
If the race goes as imagined, LAMORNA COVE should be ideally placed to run well on her first start for David Henderson. She won a Newbury Handicap for David Menuisier last July, beating 4 subsequent winners and made a nice start to her French career when 5th at Deauville in a claimer last week. She was only beaten a length and ran the fastest time from the 3-furlong pole to the line. In truth, she should have won but Marie Velon went to the inside rail in search of racing room, which is completely against the track bias at Deauville. To put that form into some context, the winner Entei is rated 42, the 2nd No Day Never had some decent UK form and is a solid yardstick, the 3rd Pegasus has won over €200k of prize money and is rated 41, the 4th Salar Island is rated 36 and has form all over Europe, the 6th Ammobaby had won a Deauville handicap on a mark of 35.5 in the summer, etc, etc ….this was a good race and would suggest that Lamorna Cove has the potential to be better than this grade. Her new connections were suitably impressed by that effort as she was claimed for €18k after the Deauville race and represents some fair value at around 15/2.
There is one “unknown” that needs to be thrown into the mix. Jerome Reynier has chosen this race for ROYAL ROBBINS to make his debut. He is a son of Shalaa, from the family of Bright Generation and wouldn’t need to be anything spectacular to make his presence felt on debut. He will need to be sharp from stall 1, as the rest of the field will no doubt be keen to come across and grab the inside rail, but he is the only horse that we know very little about, so any significant market support would make him of interest.