The main meeting in France on Thursday comes from Chantilly, with the Listed Prix Hampton as the feature, but the Flat racing can be tough in the hot weather and so I have looked at the secondary card at Chateaubriant instead. We are in a transition period for the National Hunt racing in France, as the Auteuil Spring season winds to a close and the jumps move west, mainly towards Dieppe and Clairefontaine. It can be a difficult time to assess the jumps form, with many horses being sold to the UK and Ireland, whilst others are put away for the Autumn meetings in Paris. However, the show keeps moving and there will be plenty of nice types on show over the summer season, particularly those who may have been held for better ground.
Chateaubriant is situated in Western France, close to Nantes and Angers. It is a tight right-handed oval that offers both Flat and hurdles races. This is an 8-race card, but the last 2 are the races over hurdles and they make the most appeal from a betting perspective.
2:32 - Prix D'Auteuil - Henry Gil
The first of the hurdles races comes at 2:32 (UK Time) and it's the Prix D’Auteuil for the 5-year-olds over 4200m, but don’t let the name fool you, this isn’t the deepest contest and it is very unlikely that any of the runners will be competitive at Auteuil anytime soon. However, the race is there to be wonn and with quite a lot of “deadwood” in the lineup, there looks to be a decent angle into this contest.
Top of the weights and possibly the form is the frustrating Hourvari Saramour. Trained by the Fouassier yard, he is an 11-race maiden, but has finished in the first 5 on 10 of those occasions. A quite remarkable career record and his 2nd placed finish at Niort in May is amongst the strongest form on offer, but that record and the fact that he has flattered to deceive on several occasions is enough for me to take him on here. Backing horses who “deserve to get their head in front” is always a quick route to the poor house in my experience.
For that reason, I was keen to take him on when I saw that he was the early favourite with the UK bookmakers who have priced the race and so HENRI GIL makes some appeal. He finished a close 2nd to Heros Des Mers here last month, when he just failed to get to the leader in time and if he can repeat that effort, it will probably be enough to win this. He has at least won a race, when he landed an AQPS bumper at Guingamp last September and last months hurdles debut was a perfectly pleasing start to his career over obstacles. He is related to several winners, including El Paso Wood (David Pipe) and should be capable of building on last months effort.
There are a couple of dangers to note, most obviously Comann, who returns after a 7-month absence for the Fertillet team. He is probably going to need this, but he has bits and pieces of form from 2021 that would suggest he is capable of winning at this level before too long. Dream Song was the other name on the shortlist, she is bred to be better than the level of form that she has shown and her 3rd placed finish in a Flat race at Le Pin may offer some hope. That race was won by the 11-year-old Sampark, who is a Listed class Chaser on his day and she travelled well enough into that contest to suggest she should run her race, but she did tire badly in the closing stages and her only previous start over hurdles, when beaten a long way at Auteuil in October wouldn’t offer enough hope to tempt me in.
3:06 - Prix Sirol - Mon Doudou
The other hurdles race offers a little more competition. This is the Prix Sirol, a handicap hurdle for the 4-year-olds over 3550m that concludes the card and we can at least make a decent case for several of these. Be a Nice Girl is the early favourite, perhaps based on the fact that she remains unexposed after just 3 starts and her 4th placed finishes at Dieppe and La Teste would offer some hope for her future. She could improve again, but she was beaten by 15-lengths at La Teste and at around 2/1, I’d rather lay her at that price than back. Daveast and Cavani Kaizen look likely to run their race and have each-way chances, though they have a combined record of 0-15.
Having looked for the best form, I believe that I have found it in the form of MON DOUDOU. He finished 6th in a decent handicap hurdle at Auteuil last month and that form has already been boosted when the 3rd placed Rock and Roll won at Auteuil last weekend. He was pitched into Listed company the time before at Compiegne and so this represents a significant drop in grade. Having settled in mid-division, he was given a lot to do at Auteuil but closed to within 3-lengths of the lead at the 2nd last before tiring late on. He battled on to hold 6th place though and so despite the top weight on his back here, he makes some appeal in a race that should be run to suit him. He won over fences at Cagnes-Sur-Mer in December and having raced in Listed company since, this looks to be an ideal opportunity for a second career success.
2:32 - Henri Gil - 0.5pt WIN
3:06 - Mon Doudou - 1pt WIN
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