French Profiles - Ironica de Thaix
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......Yes, yes, you know the drill by now. I can hear you saying I've read this part earlier in this series, so let's skip to the horse.
IRONICA DE THAIX (Christian Williams)
1 race, 1 win. Ironica de Thaix would certainly fit into the “could be anything” bracket. His dam won 2 of her 14 starts on the Flat and has produced 3 other winning progeny, including the 134-rated Dica de Thaix, who was a Grade 1 bumper winner and Grade 3 winning Chaser in the famous Bryant silks. There are lots of winners in the family, with the dam being a half-sister to 7 winning siblings, including 3 bumper winners, so it is perhaps not too much of a surprise that Ironica de Thaix knew his job on debut.
He won an AQPS race at Senonnes in October 2021, where the form book will tell you that he beat a horse who is now rated 110 by half-al-length, but there was more to it than that would suggest. Having been slightly keen in the early stages behind a sedate pace, he settled in 4th place under Alexandre Roussel and was brought wider to challenge off the home bend. At the 2-furlong pole it looked like he may have been booked for 3rd place as he struggled to quicken, but once he hit the rising ground he seemed to relish it and made good progress under a hand ride to get his head in front in the closing stages. The ground was officially recorded as soft (3,7 on the penetrometer), but the times on the card would suggest it was closer to good to soft. Although I can not declare myself to be an expert on a horses action, he does look to have a high knee action and I think it is fairly safe to assume that he will improve in softer conditions. The Senonnes race was a 12-furlong bumper for 3-year-olds, run in a time of 2:35.60, which is slightly above the course average.
This looks to be a hot bumper at Cheltenham, with 13 horses in the field who won on their last start, so the percentage call on Saturday is that he may well be beaten by a horse with a faster turn-of-foot. If there was significant rainfall, I might be tempted to have a small each-way saver, but this looks to be a starting point for his British career, rather than a long term aim. However, he looks to be a superb prospect for the Christian Williams yard and I am certain that there are races to be won with him this season. A definite horse to watch.