This is the final piece of the 2022 series. Although the French Jumps racing never really stops, the work that got into this series is primarily focussed from the time the first 3YOs jump a hurdle at Compiegne and Auteuil in March until the summer break. French Jump racing is organised into 4 blocks, Spring and Autumn seasons based in the North around Auteuil and Compiegne, a winter season in the South at Cagnes-Sur-Mer and Pau and the Summer break at Dieppe and Clairfontaine. It’s a little bit more detailed than that, with other tracks like Moulins, Toulouse and Nantes adding to the Premium national hunt cards, but it’s a working model for a beginner. 6 of the last 8 winners of the Triumph hurdle have been bred in France and ran in the first half of the year and so it is perhaps only natural that a lot of the focus has been on the 3-year-old recruits that have crossed the Channel in 2022, but there is much more to French jumps racing than that.
If a horse is going to have a “Triumph hurdle” campaign, then they will probably need to be with their new connections by September after a short stint in France. By contrast, older horses arriving from France have much more experience in the tank, especially if they are AQPS types who will generally have started in bumpers before progressing to hurdles. As I have mentioned in some previous posts, the older horses do need to be treated with some caution, especially if they have been given an official rating by the French handicapper, but it does not mean that they can’t be successful and having read through this series again, I feel that I have perhaps not made that clear. This is the final piece and as such is a bit of a “wrap up” of some of the horses who are coming to a British racecourse in the near future. We have a couple of exciting juveniles that I was very keen to cover, but we will finish with some older horses who could also make their mark.
I thoroughly enjoy writing this series every year and it helps me pass the time in the summer as we wait for the jumps season proper to get underway, but it’s impossible to get them all. So, if there are any names that I have missed or anything that you would like to ask, don’t hesitate to contact me through the site or social media and I am always happy to talk about a decent French prospect. Thanks for reading and hopefully we have found a few winners for the 2022/23 campaign.
BO ZENITH (Gary Moore)
If you want to find a promising juvenile hurdler, the Prix Grandak at Auteuil is always worth a watch. This years winner was BO ZENITH who finished 3-lengths in front of Blood Destiny (now with Willie Mullins) and last weeks Listed Prix des Platanes winner David du Berlais back in 3rd. He has since joined Gary Moore from a sale brokered by Nicolas Bertran de Balanda, which is becoming a tried and tested route for the yard. Having chased the keen going leader, he picked uo the lead at the 2nd last and kicked on to record a debut success in a very decent time figure. The final circuit time was 4s quicker than Lossiemouth, who won on the same card and has been a well-publicised purchase for Willie Mullins this summer, though the fact that the early leader set off at a blistering pace and towed the field along does mean that we need to make some allowance for the good time figure.
Both his Dam and Grand-dam had Black-type on their CVs and he looked to display plenty of ability when winning at Auteuil. The yard did very well with Porticello last season, who also won the Prix Grandak and he looks to have the same amount of potential at this stage of his career. After the sale, Nicolas Bertran de Balanda told Jour de Galop “Bo Zénith is a beautiful horse. I had seen him as a foal, then as a 2 years old at the sales and also this winter at David Cottin. He ticks a lot of boxes: he has a very good frame, is very well bred and seems to have a good temperament. He will join Gary Moore”. The yard know how to campaign a good juvenile and a race like the Juvenile Finale at Chepstow looks made for him if all goes to plan.
JUPITER DU GITE (Gary Moore)
There are some horses in this series that I can be entirely confident about because I have a good handle on the level of form that they have achieved in France and there are others that are more of an educated guess. JUPITER DU GITE falls into the latter category. He finished 3rd on his only start for the Planque yard in an AQPS bumper at Senonnes in April. Having disputed the lead throughout, he kicked for home with 3-furlongs to run and the front pair were unlucky to be picked off by the strong finishing Joie des Obeaux. The 5th and 6th won on their next starts to give the form of the race a slight boost, whilst the 2nd placed Jibe des Dunes, who disputed the lead, has run with credit in pattern company since. He looks likely to be a longer term prospect, but this was an impressive debut and given that he is a half-brother to Editeur du Gite, whom the yard have had such good success with, he is certainly a horse to note for the future.
GOLDEN SON (Paul Nicholls)
If he had joined Paul Nicholls 12-months ago, I would have been confident in suggesting that GOLDEN SON would be a genuine contender for all of the Grade 1 Juvenile races of the season. A Grade 2 winning Juvenile hurdler, he finished 2nd in the Grade 1 Prix Cambaceres on his final start of 2021 and looked to be one of the leading prospects in the Nicolle yard for this season. Although he ran perfectly well, he didn’t appear to have improved a great deal when he returned in the spring and after a couple of slightly disappointing efforts over hurdles, when he perhaps didn’t quite see out his race, he was sent over fences in April. Although he was beaten by 12-lengths into 2nd place, the winner, Altesse du Berlais, went on to win the Grade 1 Prix Ferdinand Dufaure and so that result can certainly be forgiven despite the fact that he was a beaten short-priced favourite. There is no doubt that he is a good horse and that is reflected in the fact that the French handicapper has given him a rating of 71-kilos (the equivalent to 154), but I have some nagging doubts.
He has been schooled over French fences, which is always a worry, though after just 1 start and the fact that he is joining such a successful operation, that shouldn’t be as much of an issue as it can be for a more experienced chaser. The bigger doubt is whether he is worth that rating. The British handicapper won’t take any chances and so he is going to have to be pitched into open company if he doesn’t go over fences and as a result that is going to mean he will probably need to run to 150+. As a juvenile he was very impressive, but he didn’t seem quite the same horse in the Spring and so whilst he is a very talented horse, I plan to be cautious with him in his first season on these shores.
AFADIL (Paul Nicholls)
Bred by the Aga Khan, AFADIL is a son of Camelot who won 1 of his 3 starts on the Flat for Francis-Henri Graffard. Although not bred for a career over obstacles, the form of his maiden win at Craon would suggest that he is worth his French rating of 37.5 (equivalent to 82) and that should mean there are races to be won with him f he takes to obstacles. Camelot has a mixed record over obstacles, 38% of his jumps progeny do manage to get their heads in front and he has produced 3 graded winners over obstacles. Sold for €255,000 to Tom Malone, he told Jour de Galop “He's a beautiful horse, made for jumping. He will be entitled to a break and will then join Paul Nicholls! Camelot (Montjeu) brought us luck…”
L’EAU DU SUD (Dan Skelton)
Last, but by no means least, we come to L’EAU DU SUD. Twice a winner over hurdles for Arnaud Chaille-Chaille, he was last seen winning the Listed Prix Virelan at Auteuil on the 3rd April. As I have said before, that meeting has thrown up plenty of talented horses and the fact that L’eau du Sud won on that card, in a final circuit time of 2:31.84, the fastest of the day, makes him of obvious interest. The 2nd and 3rd have both run well in Graded company since, whilst the 5th and 7th have won in the interim and even the 8th placed horse went on to finish 3rd in a Listed race on his next start. This is a very strong piece of form and a French rating of 66-kilos (145) is a very fair reflection of what he has achieved. A strong traveller, he is very uncomplicated and has displayed a great attitude in his races to date. A lot will depend on the British handicapper, but after just 5 starts there should be a lot more to come and he looks just the type that the yard do well with.
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