I have really tried to like Royal Ascot, but it’s just not my thing. All those big fields and draw bias’ to assess just doesn’t float the boat for me. So after 2 days, I’ll leave that to others more qualified and take a look at the early morning card at La Teste instead. This is a mixed card that gets underway at 9:55am (UK time). There is a heatwave in France and with temperatures due to reach 40-degrees centigrade this weekend, there are likely to be a lot of changes to the racing schedule in order to put the safety of the horses first. La Teste is located in the south-west and whilst it doesn’t have the glamour of the Paris tracks, there are lots of decent races held here and it is one of the main centres of the Anglo-Arab racing seen, which features heavily on Thursdays card. Having looked through the card and the early prices on offer, there are a few who make some appeal.
9:55 - Prix Mister Boum - 4YO+ Anglo-Arab Hurdle - Magic De La Rue
We get underway with an Anglo-Arabian Hurdle race and plenty of the 7-runner field have form with each other to go on. Loulou de Vergne (2nd), Magic De La Rue (3rd), Gerico de Palmas (4th) Elene de Larachi (5th) all met in a similar contest here at the end of last month. That race was won by the progressive Hakante Trois, who had been running well in open company prior to last months success, but the time stats up reasonably well and as a piece of form it looks the best on offer in this contest. Although Loulou de Vergne finished 2nd, he was very keen throughout and pulled his way to the front, so he isn’t certain to uphold that form and with a 2-kilo swing at the weights, MAGIC DE LA RUE makes some decent appeal in a relatively weak contest. That was his first start since November and was also his first start over hurdles. He only has 2-lengths to find to reverse that form from last month and should probably be favourite with the reversal at the weights from that race.
10:25 - Prix Red Rum - 3YO Hurdle - Polyrisk (Each-Way)
This isn’t the deepest contest and so on the bare form, Barrua deserves to be favourite and it is no surprise to see that he has opened up as short as Evens in the early markets. A winner on hurdles debut at Dax last month, he reached a peak rating of 37-kilos on the flat and looks to have been found a good opportunity to make it 2 from 2 over obstacles. However, there is a rick in the early markets and given the 10:25am start time of this race it is unlikely to correct itself and so at 28/1( Bet365), I have to play POLYRISK each-way. He finished 7th on debut at Bordeaux in a race that has worked out fairly well, but it is his 6th placed finish over this course and distance last month that makes him of interest. The winner of that race, Mombasa, went on to win the Listed Prix Stanley at Auteuil last weekend. Polyrisk raced alongside Mombasa when they met at La Teste and was only beaten 5-lengths in a race that matched the final circuit time of the older horses on the same card. On that form, in receipt of weight from most of his rivals, I can’t let him go unbacked at those current odds, for all that I respect Francois Nicolle’s record here and the chance of Barrua.
12:35 - Prix Omnium Anglo-Arabs A 12,50% - Calife de Paulhac
The final selection comes in at 12:35 (UK Time) with an Anglo-Arabian conditions race on the flat over 12-furlongs. Plenty of these have met before but there is a clear standout in the form book in the shape of CALIFE DE PAULHAC. He has won 11 of his 15 starts, including the Grand Prix des Anglo-Arabes at Paris Longchamp last September and looks a class above the remainder of this field. He won a similar contest at Bordeaux last month under Mickael Forest and it will be huge surprise if he doesn’t add to his impressive tally here.
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9:55 - Magic De La Rue - 0.5pt WIN
10:25 - Polyrisk - 0.5pt Each-Way
12:35 - Calife de Paulhac - 2pt WIN