4:52 Pornichet - Zaahir - 0.5pt EW (14/1 Bet 365)
There is a very odd shape to the early markets for this race and I can’t help but think the principles will drift once the PMU pools build up and the UK prices adjust. SHOWMETHEGIN has an excellent record at Pornichet and is a bit of a track specialist and he has 4 wins on the all-weather in his career. All 5 victories have come on an artificial surface and he ran perfectly well when 2nd to Spinning Mist here on 14th December. The 3rd and 4th from that race also line up here and whilst they were closing on Showmethegin in the latter stages that day, he had set a decent gallop out in front, whereas the other 2 were held up towards the rear. He is the likely pace angle here and could be dangerous if getting a soft lead, but that seems unlikely and whilst he may well uphold the form with Senepark and Djidji L’Amorosa, he is far from a certainty to hold off the entire field and doesn’t make too much appeal at an early price of 5/2.
MARKLAND also features towards the head of the market and arrives here after finishing 3rd over 1500m at Deauville in November. That race has worked out nicely with the 2nd and 5th winning on their next starts and from the same mark, he looks to be the most likely winner on paper. As recently as Dec 2020 he won a handicap over this course and distance on a mark 19lbs higher than he is now, the drop into Class 4 could do the trick and when pricing the race I did make him the favourite. The obvious concern though is a career record of 2-32. He is undoubtedly well treated based on his previous winning form, but he has dropped down the weights for a reason and a return of 0-18 in 2021 probably tells its own story.
Either of the principles could deliver the goods here, but they are both a bit skinny and the each-way value in this race may instead lie with ZAAHIR. In the space of 2 years he has dropped over 14-kilos down the handicap (31lbs), but there have been signs in his recent form that he was starting to rediscover his ability and he was much better than the 4th placed finish would suggest last time. Having raced in the rear of mid-division, Hugo Lebouc took the inexplicable design to try to close on the inside, facing the kickback and having to switch around a tiring leader, which hampered his progress and allowed those who finished ahead of him (and followed the preferred wide run) a definite advantage. To his credit he kept on nicely once in the clear and the sectional times show that he was nearly a second quicker than the winner Snooze Button from the 3f pole to the line. Alex Roussel takes over this time and he rode a double here at the track on 29th December, so should get his charge into the right position and with an almost guaranteed pace to aim at, he should get the race run to suit and is some very good value to hit the frame at around 14/1