Horse to Watch - 2nd February
Back to Pau for a Mixed card on Wednesday, with 5 races on the all-weather accompanied by 3 races over jumps. The all-weather loop has become very difficult to assess in recent weeks and the significant front running bias, especially on a surface that is described as “slow” has made it impossible to weigh up from a betting point of view. For that reason, whilst I continue to watch the flat action at Pau, it is strictly a watching brief and instead I have taken a different approach for the first bet of February. At 11:50 (UK time) we have a Cross-country chase over 4,100 metres for the Anglo-Arabian horses. For those who may be new to this discipline, an Anglo-Arabian horse is a cross breed that must be a minimum 25% up to a maximum 75% Arabian bred. It’s not for everyone, but the AA scene is growing in French jump racing, especially at Pau and the limited pool of horses does make it easier to follow the form lines.
FRASCATI LAGARDE AA
7-year-old Gelding - trained by Fabien Lagarde
Frisson du Pecos x Onyx de Roches (Dearling)
No stranger to the Cross-Country fences, this will be his 12th start in this unique discipline and a 5th start over this course and distance. Frascati Lagarde finished 5th in this race last year when he was trained by Didier Guillemin and he built on that effort to win at Agen 4-weeks later. He took his time to reach peak fitness last season, but spent the majority of 2021 running in Cross-Country races, with further placed efforts at Pompadour and Mont-de-Marsan to add to his win at Agen. He has had 2 runs already over this course since the Pau season started in December, falling on his first start before finishing 2nd here last time on 10th January and it is that 2nd placed finish that makes him of interest here.
On paper, the form might be questioned. He was beaten over 30-lengths 3 weeks ago, but he chased home Gareth de Larachi AA, who is easily the best horse in this sphere and so we can probably upgrade that effort, especially in this lineup. Furthermore, his rider Paulin Blot lost his irons halfway round and did incredibly well to keep the partnership in tact. As they jumped the 5th last, he was 20-lengths behind the principles, including the eventual 3rd Gris Minois who reopposes on Wednesday, but despite his riders unbalanced position, he made up significant ground in the straight to take 2nd place in the final 100 yards. The drop to 4,100 metres should be in his favour and whilst we have to assume that Paulin Blot will keep his feet in the irons this time, the fact he was able to run so well last time despite that obvious handicap makes him a solid betting proposition in this company.