DIPLOMATIE (Oliver Sherwood)
A very experienced filly by Mayson, she won 4 of her 18 career starts in France, winning on both Turf and the All-Weather on the Flat, as well as over hurdles at Nimes in September. She won a Class 3 Handicap on a mark of 30k (60) at Marseille Vivaux in February and followed up in a 12-furlong claimer on Soft ground at Saint-Cloud a month later. After 2 subsequent runs on the level she was sent over hurdles, finishing 3rd on debut at Rochefort in August on her first start in this discipline. That race worked out extremely well, as both the winner and 2nd won on their next starts and DIPLOMATIE made it a hat-trick of wins for the form when she won on her 2nd hurdles start at Nimes in September.
The Nimes win came in Claiming company and was run in a relatively slow time, turning into a sprint in the final 3-furlongs. She picked up well in the closing stages when asked for maximum effort, but she beat horses rated 51k and 49k (102 and 98) so we do need to be careful reading too much into this form. Her final start in France came 6-weeks ago in a Claiming hurdle at Auteuil, where she finished 7th, beaten 40-lengths by A L’abord’az. On the face of it, this looks like a poor performance, but this was a much deeper race than the 2 previous contests she had raced in over hurdles. The winner finished 2nd in a Class 2 contest on her next start to boost the form, the 4th has won since and the 2nd, 5th and 6th have all hit the frame subsequently. The deep ground didn’t play to her strengths and she is probably better judged on the runs in the Provinces. Claimed for €11,000 by Toby Jones, she has joined Oliver Sherwood and will make her UK debut at Taunton on Thursday.
By Mayson, her dam was a 9-race maiden on the track, but she was a half-sister to 3 winners, including Demokles who was a multiple winner on the Flat in both France and Hong Kong. Will she make a winning start? The percentage call is probably to oppose her on an opening mark of 106 and wait until she drops into a 0-100 contest, but she isn’t easily opposed. She has won 4 of her 18 career starts, in this field, only Molliana has won more than that and 7 of her 9 winners have come at Les Landes in Jersey. Good ground and a speed track like Taunton look to be the ideal place to start and so whilst I think she is probably 7-10lbs above where she should be in the ratings, if this race developed into a speed test she could take advantage. Victoria Malzard claims 7lbs off her back which should help and she should at least be competitive to a point. Oliver Sherwood has been going through a lean spell, with no winner in his last 34 runners, but she has only recently arrived in the yard and can’t be judged on the form of her stablemates.
After 18 starts, there isn’t likely to have an enormous amount of improvement to come, but she is lightly raced over hurdles and I do have a soft spot for Fillies who know how to win races. A mark of 106, which is essentially the British handicapper multiplying the French mark by 2, is probably the ceiling of the ability that she has shown so far, but I do expect her to be competitive and there are surely some Mares races to be won with her in the coming months.