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 we start with a 4-year-old who has joined Harry Whittington and who is due to make his debut for the yard at Bangor this Wednesday.
Keep Running - Harry Whittington
A 4-year-old son of Turgeon, he remains a maiden after 4 starts but has run with great credit behind some very talented horses, most notably when 2nd to Purprod Boiz at Compiegne in September 2021. Last seen finishing 6th in a Grade 3 Juvenile Hurdle at Compiegne in November last year, a race that featured last weeks impressive Auteuil winner Diamond Carl. Sold to Harry Whittington, he has been off the track since that last run and so his fitness will need to be taken on trust, but he has shown enough in France to suggest that he is capable of winning a maiden hurdle at this level. He ran well on decent ground at Clairefontaine and Dieppe last summer and so the forecast Good ground shouldn’t be of any real concern.
The French handicapper gave him rating of 63-kilos (the equivalent to 132) and so the fact that the British handicapper has given him 126 is at least fair. Whilst he could have been pitched into handicap company, this looks a good opportunity against several runners who look likely to need much further than this to be seen to their best. His dam won 4 times between 2-miles and 2-miles 4-furlongs and most of the family were effective at the shorter trips, so this 2-miles should be fine. He is good value for his rating of 126 and should go close on Wednesday. Although it is difficult to say where he may end the campaign, he should be competitive in races around a Class 3 level for his new connections.