Best Bet 25th May - AA Racing
Anglo-Arabian bred horses are seen as a bit of a novelty in the UK and Ireland, mainly because we do not embrace the breed on these shores from a racing standpoint. For those unaware, a horse is classed as an Anglo-Arab if at least 12.5% (1 great grandparent) had an Arabian blood line and the breed is a direct cross between the Thoroughbred and the Arabian bred. Contrary to some popular belief, they are eligible to run in open company and the likes of Sully D’Oc AA have made their mark in the UK and Ireland, but predominantly they race in the South of France in their own discipline.
The majority of these horses will make their debuts as 3-year-olds in Anglo-Arab Flat races over 12-14 furlongs. The island of Corsica has some great tracks like Ajaccio and Zonza where there is a significant “AA” racing hub, but you will also regularly find AA races at Pau, Dax, La Teste and other leading tracks in the South. They then graduate to hurdles and chases at the age of 4 and beyond. It is slightly simplistic, but these races are generally run at a slower pace than thoroughbred races and the average time of an AA hurdle is around 10% slower than the average time of a National Hunt contest.
Background covered, let’s move on to todays race for the AA, with the concluding race over hurdles at La Teste. This is a 3400 metre (2-miles 1-furlong) hurdle for the 4-year olds and upwards, with the older horses giving 2-kilos, or 4.5lbs to the 4-year-old runners. 7 go to post for this €17,000 contest but it looks a relatively simple puzzle to solve on paper.
7:15 La Teste Buch - Hakante Trois AA - 1pt WIN
I’ll start with the early favourite and most likely winner, Loulou de Vergne AA. Trained by Ludovic Cadot, who is one of the leading trainers in this discipline and operating at a 24% strike rate in 2022, he sets the standard having won his last 3 starts. He won over hurdles at Agen in March before winning 2 Flat races at Auch and Limoges. Given his profile and the string of “1s” by his name, it is no surprise to see that he has opened up as Favourite and is around an Even money shot with those bookmakers who have priced the race. Not quite a good thing, but not a shock favourite either, however, the form of his victories can be readily pulled apart and when he raced in better company at Pau and Mont-de-Marsan earlier in the year he was soundly beaten. Add in the fact that he was well beaten in a Flat race at this track last season and you have an angle to take on a short-priced favourite with.
My selection for this race is Hakante Trois AA. This daughter of Kap Rock is 0-6, but she has run well on several occasions, including at this track and is effectively taking a drop in class, having finished 3rd in a hurdles contest against the thoroughbreds last month. She was beaten just over 3-lengths on that occasion by the now 58.5-kilo (129) Heraliste, who has won on his next start at Lyon-Parilly to significantly boost that form. Having settled in rear under Remi Fourcade, who keeps the ride, she made good headway off the home bend and although she may have finished 4th but for a last flight faller in front, she kept on very strongly and hit the line hard. On that evidence, she should be capable in a race of this nature, especially as the small field should help her to get into a more prominent position than she did last month.
There are others to mention, the newcomer Maine Coon AA represents top connections and has a nice pedigree for this discipline, being is related to several prolific AA winners. Whilst Elene de Larachi has the services of Nathalie Desoutter and was an impressive winner over fences at Dax a fortnight ago, though that was a first win in 7 attempts. The most simplistic approach could be to lay Loulou de Vergne AA at Evens and have the field running for me, but I would always rather back my opinions rather than lay just the one horse and I think the level of form shown by my selection in “open” company is enough to justify a bet here.