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 Milton Harris and who is due to make his debut for the yard at Warwick this Thursday.
Seigneur Des As - Milton Harris
On the bare form, Seigneur des As is 0-8 in his career and that does need to be taken into account, as does the fact that he has already been Chasing in France, which is normally a negative for me. I think it would probably be fair to say that it is not all about this Thursday at Warwick, as a small field maiden hurdle on relatively good ground is unlikely to be his game. However, he has shown enough ability during his time with the Mele yard to suggest that there are races to be won with him, especially once the ground softens. The French handicapper has him on a rating of 58-kilos, which would equate to 128 or so if the British handicapping team take the rating literally (which they are highly likely to do). He probably fits nicely into a 0-130 category and he has decent enough form in France to suggest he will be able to win races at that level.
French 3-year-old Chasing is a completely different discipline to anything he is likely to experience in the UK for Milton Harris. Normally, this would be a concern for me, as French Chasers jump very different fences and they can learn some bad habits of crashing through the top because of the different nature of the fences in France. He finished 2nd in a Class 2 Chase at Pau on Christmas Eve, a solid piece of form, as was his 5th placed finish at Auteuil 3-weeks before, but his final start is what makes him most interesting. Officially he finished 5th, beaten 23-lengths by Morgan Has, but that does not tell the whole story. This was a Listed Chase for 4-year-olds and he was able to mix it at this level, still in with a chance as they turned for home before an error at the 2nd last put pay to his momentum and he was allowed to make his own way home.
He is a son of It's Gino, out of Dallidas, a Listed placed mare who reached a peak rating of 70-kilos (154) during her career, whilst the family also includes Hippomene, who boasts the Grade 1 Prix Renaud du Vivier on her CV. All of he family stay well and once he has acclimatised to racing with Milton Harris, there should be some decent staying races for him in the Novice chasing division.