The best card in France this Sunday is at Clairefontaine, where 3 very competitive Listed races top the bill. However, after all that excitement there is a very decent evening card at La Teste de Buch to finish the weekend, where their summer program is in full swing. There have been 3 meetings on the track in the last 7 days and it has thrown up a wide range of results, with no obvious pace or track bias and the forecast Good-to-Soft ground should mean that this Sundays card is no exception to that.
We open with a Class 3 conditions race over 12-furlongs at 3:07 UK time. One of the great quirks of the French racing system is the focus on conditions races over handicaps and as a result it often allows classy horses to drop in grade to get back in the winning thread. That is certainly the case here with Mozzarella.
Officially rated 42.5 by the French handicapper, she is effectively 14-killos, or 31lbs in UK measures, better off with her main market rival Picnic Royal compared to if this race was a handicap. As recently as July 2020 she finished a 3-length 3rd in a Group 2 at Paris Longchamp and she has been highly tried since, including an aborted campaign in Dubai over the winter. This is a significant drop in class that should see her return to winning ways. In the early markets, she has opened 6/4 which looks very generous and if she retains any of the ability she showed as a 3-year-old she should win this with some ease.
The French 2-year-olds have come in for some criticism in recent weeks, unfairly in my opinion as the French program is setup to allow the best juveniles to peak closer to the autumn than midsummer, but we do have a cracking looking 2-year-old Class 2 event at 4:17. Five runners go to post and there does look to be some serious potential on show.
Pedro Chop is the most experienced, with 1 win from his 4 starts, but I think it is worth noting that he was well beaten at Mont-de-Marsan when he stepped out of maiden company last time and if anything, he meets much more talented rivals on this occasion. In a similar vein, I am quite happy to take on Hewillgetin. He is a typical speedy type from the Marnane team, but if anything he is too “buzzy” and looks a difficult ride. Having unseated on his debut at Saint-Cloud, he did manage to get his head in front on his 3rd start at Vittel on 4th July, in spite of pulling for his head for most of the race. For a race in the provinces, the form looks to be of a reasonable standard, but given the way he has behaved on his 3 starts, I would be willing to bet he will need to learn a great deal more before he can win a race of this nature.
Saramouche is a definite player. Trained by Christophe Ferland, she was an impressive debut winner at Compiegne in a newcomers race on 11th June. She was ridden prominently on that occasion and produced a decent time figure when compared to the other races on the day. The form has worked out reasonably well and in receipt of 1.5-kilos from the colts, she is worthy of respect. However, I think it is worth noting that she had the ideal racing position at Compiegne and based on her breeding, this 7-furlong trip is likely to prove the bare minimum she needs, especially when you consider that her half-sister Saranac has been winning races over 10-furlongs this year.
In Making Moovies she meets a seriously exciting colt with course and distance form in the book. A winner on debut here in June, Making Moovies travelled extremely strongly and pulled over 4 lengths clear of the field in the closing stages. The 2nd Quessigny and the 6th Start in Front (who reopposes here) have both won races since to boost the form and there is every chance that Making Moovies is a Group class performer, in which case he should win a race at this level without too much difficulty. Given that Hewillgetin has been so green in his races, it is highly likely that Making Moovies will get a decent tow into the later stages of this race, which on the evidence of his debut should be an ideal set of circumstances for him.
The final race I have looked at comes later on the card at 6:25. This is a tricky little Class 3 contest over 7-furlongs and with only 5 runners going to post this is almost certain to be a tactical affair. Saecula Saeculorum is likely to start as favourite and arrives here on the back of a win in a very similar contest at Senonnes 2 weeks ago. She was ideally placed behind the early leader on that occasion, but the time was decent and the 4th, Al Khamsin, has boosted the form by running very well in a higher grade at Le Lion D’angers during the week. She has been given an official rating of 36 and that looks very fair based on the form she showed at Senonnes.
On official ratings, King Gold is rated a kilo higher at 37.0 and he has run consistently in recent starts to suggest that mark is fair. He finished 3rd last time out in a Class 3 at Saint-Cloud over 6-furlongs. The winner of that race, Tour to Paris, was a Group 3 winner in 2020 and was dropping into the Class 3 grade for some easy prize money and match practice, so we can forgive King Gold the 4-length defeat. He made some decent progress from the rear that day and this step up to 7-furlongs should help, but both he and Saecula Saeculorum leave me with the impression that they are vulnerable to a horse with a real turn of foot so I think they might be worth taking on in such a tactical race.
Shammah has had a very interesting career, she achieved a peak rating of 78 when trained by Richard Hannon in 2019, before being switched to a career in Hungary. She finished in the first 4 in 3 runs at Budapest in 2020, though I must admit I have been unable to find any footage of those races and it is very hard to assess what that form is worth. She made her French debut at Dax on 25th June when she wasn’t beaten as far as a 7th placed finish would suggest. However, she did look rather one-paced when the pace lifted, something that was backed up by the sectional data and I think she is likely to need further than 7-furlongs before she can trouble the judge.
La Teste is not that far from the Spanish border and it seems that there are more and more Spanish runners turning up at every meeting. There are 2 in this race and you could make a case for both. Boston Bruin won a Cork maiden for Jessica Harrington in April 2019 and ran well in handicaps to suggest that the Irish handicappers rating of 80 was fair. He switched to Spain in September 2019 and has won 2 of his 15 starts there since. He has shown himself to be versatile and has made the frame in handicaps between 6 and 9 furlongs for the Lopez Sanchez team. He looks a nice horse and although it is harder to assess the Spanish form (mainly because it is so hard to find the replays) he does seem to be worthy of his place at this level, but I think he will struggle to give 3,5-kilos to the other Spanish runner, Derdas.
Bred by Shadwell, Derdas finished within a length of the talented Crew Dragon in a 2-year-old maiden at Chantilly, as well as placing in both starts in the UK for Owen Burrows. He won his Spanish debut at Madrid in October 2020, but has presumably had issues since as he did not reappear until finishing a never nearer 5th at San Sebastian in June. He’s by Exceed and Excel and is the grandson of Falmouth Stakes winner Alshakr, so he is certainly bred to be better than this level and with his comeback run under his belt he may prove to have too much ability for these and is likely to be a decent price to take the chance on.