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French Provincial Racing - Times

Racehorses jumping a hurdle

French Racing has a very different model to the UK. A PMU mononpoly helps the prize money and a better management structure to set the race program is a key lesson that British Racing could take on board. Anyway, I have no interest in turning this into a political piece about how the sport should be run. Instead this is just a brief summary of the form from some of the Provincial tracks.

For those of you who may not be aware, French racing is split into Premium and Provincial meetings. The premium meetings are those with off course betting and you will find those on Sky Sports Racing and most UK bookmakers will bet into those meetings. Provincial racing generally takes place on weekends and the only betting is in the on-course Tote markets. The form of these races, which tend to take place on the smaller tracks, is often not reported in the UK, Orin it is, it will only be reported if a horse has subsequently been sold to run in the UK or Ireland. As a result, horses with solid form in the provinces can either be overlooked or at least under assessed when they come to race on a Premium track.

I have shared a file at the bottom of this post which contains the time comparisons for the hurdles and AQPS Flat races at some of the Provincial tracks. I haven't put any of these tracks through my rating system and the reason for that is that many of them will only hold 3 or 4 meetings per year and with such a low volume of racing, any time data would be relatively inaccurate. Since 2021, I have made the decision not to look at the Chases run on these meetings. This was partly to try to reduce the workload, especially on the busy days in the summer where there can be up to 10 meetings held on a Sunday. However, underlying that I carried out a study of the Chases that I had recorded in 2020 and 2021 and found that the average rating of the runners over fences in the French Provinces was only 51.5 kilos (or 103 in UK terms). Given that relatively few of these horses would appear in Chases at the Premium tracks and even fewer were likely to be sold to race in the UK, I decided to omit that form from my data.

Some of the provincial tracks will have stronger form than others and one important point to note is that most of them have no watering facilities, so there can be times when the races in the middle of the summer are run on very firm going. However, the assumption that a race run in the Provinces is weaker than at a Premium track is not always the case. If you follow me on social media you will know of my admiration for Spes Militurf who made his debut at Pompadour. Fil Dor finished 2nd at Royan on his only start for Lageneste & Macaire, Klassical Dream won a Flat race at Sable-Sur-Sarthe and A Plus Tard made a winning debut over hurdles at Saint-Brieuc in 2017. The list could be endless but hopefully you see my point. Where possible, I do my best to highlight any outstanding performances that will have been overlooked in the UK. Just today there was an impressive win for Kleangame who made all to win a 3-year-old AQPS race at Brehal.

This type of form won't be for everybody and there are limited opportunities to follow this form for betting purposes, but it is a key point to understanding French racing and some of the times below do help to put context to some the performances when that form comes up. I don't cover every track, as some of the video quality can be difficult to work with and other tracks simply don't race often enough, but I am always happy to offer an opinion on a Provincial race if I have it.

French Provinces (Non-Prem)
Download PDF • 112KB


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