Yes I know I said the horses to watch would be at Cagnes-Sur-Mer, but the most interesting 3-year-old running this weekend has come to Pau so here we are. This is the big day of the year at Pau, an 11-race card that mixes all-weather racing on the flat with Cross-Country, hurdles and chases on the turf. The feature race is the Grade 3 Grand Prix de Pau at 3:12 (UK), a chase won last year by AJAS for David Cottin. There are plenty of nice types to watch over obstacles, but the opening race makes more appeal as a race to follow. This is a Class 2 conditions race for the 3-year-olds over a mile and on paper, this looks to be a very strong renewal.
3-year-old Colt - trained by Jean Claude Rouget
AL SHAQAB RACING
Zelzal x Kestria (Keltos)
Zelzal is definitely on the rise as a Sire and Al Shaqab Racing will have been delighted by the start that ZESTFUL made to his career in a maiden at Lyon La Soie last month. Having broken nicely from stall 1, he settled in behind the leaders under Jean-Bernard Eyquem and hugged the inside rail throughout, travelling nicely without showing any obvious signs of greenness. When the 2 leaders kicked for home off the final bend he was briefly taken off heels, but quickly picked up when asked for his effort and closed nicely, coming between the 2 leaders to go on to record a 3/4 length victory. It is somewhat debatable what that form is worth, but the 5th placed horse Win Daisy has come out and won a maiden in the interim period. It was very impressive to see how easily Zelzal picked up the leaders under only hands and heels, with his experienced jockey perhaps keen not to give him a hard time on his first run. The sectional times show that he ran the final 2-furlongs in 11.05 and 10.96s, which is always a good indicator of an above average horse.
He is a half-brother to G2 Prix de Sandringham winner, Miss Extra, so the drop back to 1600m shouldn’t cause any real concern, especially with a couple of confirmed front runners in the field to make it an honest pace. The track at Pau is always a concern as there has been a very obvious bias towards those who race prominently, with 66% of races run here since the season began being won by horses who raced within 3-lengths of the lead (23% made all). Zestful is drawn in stall 1, with both Loubeisen (2) and Corcovado (3) having made all to win their maidens and so he shouldn’t have too much difficulty in being able to go forwards with them. His debut was extremely exciting, especially when the times were examined and he can hopefully go on to build on that before he steps up in class again.