It’s fair to assume that understanding French National Hunt form can give you an edge. Being able to tell a horse with potential from a horse who won a bad race and sold for big money is a definite advantage in the National Hunt game. I’ve been very lucky in the last 2 years to find both Quilixios and Vauban on this blog, as well as a few others who have made their mark. It’s not all been plain sailing and for every good horse I’ve found, there have been plenty who have disappointed and several more who have never been seen or heard of again. There are plenty of classy 3-year-old prospects around, but they won’t all win at 3 and 4 and plenty more will be past their prime by the time they are 7. Others, like todays horse, are longer term prospects and trying to spot that potential, finding the ones who may have slipped through unnoticed, is where the real edge can lie.
If a French-bred horse has a 1 next to its name and is making its hurdles debut for Paul Nicholls or Willie Mullins, the chances are that it is going to get noticed and be a very short price, regardless of whether that 1 in the form book actually justifies such strong support. The assumption that the top connections spend the most money and as a result recruit the best horses is in part justified, but it doesn’t mean that they get it right all of the time. 12-months ago I would have told you that Matterhorn had a great chance of being a Triumph horse, and he never made it to the track for Paul Nicholls. As I said at the start, I don’t want this series to purely focus on finding festival winners and so todays horse is completely from left field. To be honest, I wasn’t even aware that he had been sold until I came across him by accident when researching a form line that I am very sweet on. He could be top class, but the probability is that he won’t be, but he still looks a nice piece of business for his new connections and should pay his way in time regardless of how much ability he eventually shows.
JUKEBOX D’EDDY (Tom Gretton)
There is nothing exceptional about this horse on his page. His dam pulled up on both her starts on the track and her progeny haven’t set the world alight so far. She produced a half-brother to Jukebox d’Eddy, Foggy Creek (Ben Pauling) who was somewhat limited in his time in the UK. She is a half-sister to Raphy de la Roche, who was a Listed hurdle winner at Auteuil and there are a smattering of other winners in the immediate family so it is not all doom and gloom. The Sire, Fly With Me, was a Listed winner on the level and placed in Group company over staying trips. He has had a limited number of runners so far but has produced a winner over hurdles, Jereviendrai and a bumper winner too, so there is some scope to be positive about his prospects in the National Hunt game.
Jukebox d’Eddy made his debut in an AQPS bumper at Moulins in April, finishing 5th, beaten just over 7-lengths. This form line has actually appeared earlier in this series, as the 3rd placed horse, Jaitroplaclasse is now with Nicky Henderson. In truth it is a race that I really like and I think that it is likely to prove to be one of the stronger AQPS races held this season. The 2nd has won since, as has the 8th, whilst the horses who finished 6th and 10th both went on to hit the frame on their next starts. The race was falsely run in the early stages before more pace was injected down the back straight. Having settled behind the leaders, Jukebox d’Eddy travelled well and although it is important to note that he was outpaced when they turned for home, which is perhaps not surprising given his breeding, he kept on strongly in the closing stages in a manner that would suggest there is a lot more to come.
He was one of 5 runners in the race for Mathieu Pitart (they finished 2nd, 5th, 6th, 9th and 10th) and has since been sold to join Tom Gretton. On paper, he looks to be a longer term prospect and will probably need to wait for some softer conditions and maybe a longer trip to be seen at his best, but I think there is a good horse in there and under the right conditions there should be plenty of opportunities for him.