Pedigrees aren't everything. Just because one member of the family has proved themselves capable of amazing things on a racecourse does not automatically mean that their siblings will do the same. For every Noble Mission (Frankel), there is a Flinteur Sacre (Sprinter Sacre). A pedigree can give pointers towards ground preference, stamina, attitude and ability, but until a horse actually takes to the track, it can never be used as a guarantee.
The 2 horses in this piece, who make their debuts at Chepstow and Fakenham respectively on Wednesday, have wildly different pedigrees. When their mating plans were conceived, it would have been a very big price that either of them would end up running in hurdle races, but here they are. For different reasons, I won't be backing either on Wednesday, but at this stage it will be interesting to see what they can achieve for their new connections.
PALACE BOY (Fergal O’Brien)
Let’s start with his pedigree. A half-brother to Princess Zoe, he comes from a family that stay well on the Flat and with such an illustrious sibling, he isn’t likely to be missed on his debut. After an indifferent start to his career on the Flat in Germany for Jean-Pierre Carvalho, he got his act together to break his maiden tag on his 5th start.
That was a conditions race at Dusseldorf in June 2020, where he was sent off the 1/5 favourite and duly obliged by making all under Bauyrzhan Murzabayev to win by 5-lengths. That was an impressive performance and if he was making his debut for Fergal O’Brien on the back of that effort, he would be a short price to make a winning start. However, whilst he is bred to be smart and should stay well, that was his last appearance and after 873 days away from the track, the smart play is surely to be cautious at Chepstow on Wednesday. His Sire Nathaniel has a solid record as a National Hunt sire, with 48% of his progeny winning a race over hurdles and a 13% strike rate overall. The likes of Zanahiyr, Concertista, Burning Victory and Navajo Pass have put him on the Jumps map and if Palace Boy is over the issues that have kept him off the track for 2-years, he could be a nice horse for his new connections.
TOUTE CHIC (Jonjo O’Neill)
“There’s value in French Claimers”. Martin Pipe set the precedent for buying horses out of Claiming company in France and whilst the big money purchases made by Willie Mullins, Paul Nicholls and others may catch the headlines, there are still some decent opportunities to buy out of these races. Toute Chic cost €12,000 after winning at San-de-Provence in June, the 3rd win of her 8 race career on the Flat for Jean-Claude Rouget. Having made a winning debut on the all-weather at Lyon La Soie last October, she was pitched into decent company at Cagnes-Sur-Mer in the winter series. Although she didn’t get her head in front, she ran with credit behind the likes of Marianachic and Night Endeavor, who have both won in pattern company since. Dropped into Claiming company in the Spring, she won a pair of races at Vichy and Salon-de-Provence before being claimed for her new connections.
She saw out the 10-furlong trip in those races in a manner that would suggest that the 2-miles for her hurdles debut should be in her range, but we do need to put that form into some context. The horses who finished 2nd in those 2 claiming races are rated the equivalent of 59 and 52 on the level and so it is hard to argue that the form is anything more than average. Her Sire, Violence, is best known for producing US Grade 1 winner Dr Shcivel, but to my knowledge and research, he has never had a runner over obstacles. Whilst her dam was a maiden daughter of Theyskens’ Theory, who was a Group 3 winner for Brian Meehan in 2010. It would be little more than an uneducated guess to say whether or not she will take to hurdling on that pedigree, but if she is going to see out the trip, a speed track like Fakenham looks a decent place to start.
With her pedigree, there are other options, most likely on the all-weather so in the event that she doesn’t take to hurdling, all will not be lost, but she is another horse who may well be shorter than she should be in the market because she has a pair of 1s next to her name.