French Profiles : Bestaline
When you spend as much time watching French National Hunt racing as I do, you like to think you have a pretty good handle on the form and how it translates to the UK and Ireland. It is never an exact science, especially as the vast majority of horses who are sold to race this side of the Channel are very lightly raced and open to any amount of improvement. However, there is a definite edge to understanding the level of form that a horse has reached in France, especially as the majority of Bookmakers will price a French horse on its connections and the bare numbers of its form rather than what it has actually achieved. The other key angle is the French program book, where the vast majority of races are run over no further than 4000m, or 2-miles and 4-furlongs. As a result, a huge number of horses who arrive in the UK can find improvement for a step up in trip that would not have been available to them in their native France.
In truth there are loads of angles with French horses, many of which get missed because everyone is looking for the Triumph hurdle winner. If you read this blog on a regular basis you will have seen that I recently posted the list of 100 horses that have moved to the UK and Ireland this summer. The plan, work commitments permitting, is to provide a short written profile for each horse as they make their UK or Irish debuts and today we have a 3-year-old making her debut for Gigginstown and Gordon Elliott.
BESTALINE (Gordon Elliott)
The once-raced winner of a bumper at Nort-Sur-Erdre in May, she didn’t leap off the page when making that winning debut and the form can only really be described as average. However, Bestaline produced a furlong average of 13.68s when winning that day on ground officially described as Soft (3,5 on the penetrometer). That compares well with the other bumper, which was admittedly a Claimer, which was run on the same card. Having tracked the leader, she was switched out of the home bend and driven out to hold off the closers in the final furlong. She showed a willing attitude and looked relatively straightforwards during the race, albeit that this was a limited contest. Nort-Sur-Erdre is a tight, left-handed track that is approximately 7-furlongs round, so it does favour horses who race prominently (5 of the 7 winners on the day raced in the first 4 throughout), but she handled the tight turns well enough and ought to improve for the switch to Gordon Elliott.
Her dam won twice over hurdles and has already produced Best Win, who is Listed placed on the Flat. The dam is a half-sister to Theinval (Nicky Henderson, peak OR 150) and there is enough in her pedigree to suggest she could turn into a decent prospect for her new connections. This looks like a decent race for the time of year, with perhaps the Noel Meade trained Bridgehead likely to set the standard after a solid 2nd placed debut behind a subsequent Willie Mullins trained winner. Is she a bet on Tuesday? Probably not for me. I’m not a great fan of backing Fillies against the Geldings, especially on hurdles debut and whilst there was some promise in her bumper win, it didn’t blow me away and she beat a now 119 rated horse by less than a length. There will be easier opportunities and given her new connections, she will be well placed. The Elliott yard had a very similar recruit beaten in this last year, Laishann, but by the same token Quilixios won it in 2020 and he went on to win the Triumph. Regardless of the result she is one to look out for in Fillies races, but unless there was sustained market support I would rather take a watching brief this time.