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"He Could Be Anything" - VALIMI


I am currently sat with a Coffee in Cafe Nero (other Coffee shops are available) on a cold but clear Saturday morning in late November. French Racing follows a very familiar pattern every year, but it is probably fair to say that if there is a quiet period, then December and January is that time. I really enjoy the winter series at Pau and Cagnes-Sur-Mer, but there is no doubt in my mind that the quality of the racing is slightly lower than at other times in the calendar. This is especially true on the Flat, as it will probably be the end of January at Cagnes-Sur-Mer before we see a truly top class horse again. For that reason, it is now fair to say that we have seen most of the 2022 talent and if there are some unraced stars in France, they are likely to remain unraced until next season.


I like this time of year, it is nice to have a period where I can slow down, work on some notes and ease the workload. I have notes and time comparisons for just over 2,000 races this year and with so much to sift through, it is important to decide what needs to be kept or re-evaluated. I don't bet on Heavy ground. After 3 years of doing this full-time, it has become very clear to me that Racing on deep ground is not my area of expertise and so whilst I will watch the racing in the winter, I am very unlikely to get involved financially. That leaves me with plenty of time to rewatch some of the races and horses that have caught my eye, to check on form lines and to start to build a picture of some of the horses that I want to look out for next year.


France has a Tote Monopoly and whilst that does wonders for prize money and the general funding of the sport, it does tend to give the Racing a program a very "here and now" kind of feel. The lack of Antepost markets means that there is not as much focus on the top level races as there is in the UK and Ireland and as such a lot of the exciting types can be somewhat forgotten over the winter months. Hence the idea for this series. It can be a long winter if you're not a fan of small field graded Jumps races or Heavy ground, so I have put together this mini-series of 5 once-raced winners to give us something to look forwards to in 2023. There is a somewhat scientific approach to the way the these are written, but I try to apply as many facts as possible to the work I produce and I prefer that approach to purely offering an opinion.


VALIMI - 2YO C


Trainer: Jean-Claude Rouget

Owner: H H Aga Khan


Breeding: Teofilo x Valdaya (Acclamation)


Winner 2YO Maiden at Deauville - 1m, Soft - 22.10.2022


Breeding: Half-brother to Valdarann (Siyouni), a winner on turf in France and Doha. Dam won a maiden as a Juvenile, her only win in 9 starts, reached a peak rating of 35.5k (78). Half-Sister to 4-winners including unbeaten 2012 Prix de Diane winner Valyra. Grand-Dam Listed winner over 7f.


Form: Drawn 2, broke well to lead after 100m (horse in stall 1 missed the break). Led with inside rail, travelled strongly and came clear with 2nd in home straight, kept on best. Final time of 1:46.10 with closing 3-furlongs of 12.16, 11.56 and 12.34 on ground described as Soft (3,6 on PMT). Race was 2s faster than Fillies maiden over same C&D 30-minutes later. Won by a length from American Flag (who won a Class 2 Stakes race on his next start at Saint-Cloud) 9-lengths clear of the 3rd. With 1,5-kg claim from Coralie Pacault, carried 56.5kg to win.


Comments: A powerful Colt by Teofilo, he has been given time to mature but showed no signs of greenness when making a very professional winning debut at Deauville. Having traveled so strongly, he continued to find well in the closing stages, although not asked for a maximum effort. The first 2 pulled a long way clear of the rest and the fact that American Flag was able to win a Class 2 contest on his next start at Saint-Cloud, a race he won by 6-lengths with 3 last time out winners in behind. bodes well. The time figure and the form of the 2nd would suggest that Valimi ran to a mark of 40kb (88) on debut and that would make him one of the more exciting 3-year-old prospects for the Aga Khan in 2023. Started over a mile, he looks likely to develop into a middle distance horse for next year, although there is enough speed in his pedigree to suggest he should be able to compete at any trip from a mile upwards.

Following his win at Deauville, Jean-Claude Rouget told Jour-de-Galop “The Going is not as bad as last year. The horses galloped better today, even if it remains very soft. Aptitude played a role with him but Valimi certainly has a future. A while ago, we didn't expect to start him so quickly. We will not see him again this year. I hope he will be another classic hope for the stable”.

Clearly well thought of by his trainer, he will almost certainly have an entry in the French 2,000 Guineas, but I suspect the 10-furlongs of the Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly is more likely to be his long term aim.






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