Le Mans Maidens - 24th May
Racing heads to Le Mans for Wednesday’s action and whilst this does have the feel of a midweek card, the maiden races look competitive and the tracks relative proximity to Paris and Deauville does mean that you can occasionally spot a good horse running here. Racing gets underway at 3:25 (UK Time) with a 2-year-old debutantes’ race. It’s not the sort of race that would appeal for betting purposes, but we are starting to move towards the second half of the year and so some of the more longer-term Juvenile prospects are likely to be making their way to the track, so it is worth watching. From the pedigrees of the 7-runners perhaps Kiss Love for the Gabdin team is the most interesting, as she is a half-sister to 3 winning siblings, all with Black type on their CVs and this €100,000 purchase looks the part on paper.
The second race is a 3-year-old maiden for Fillies over 1,950m, or just shy of 10-furlongs if you prefer and we have a lot more clues to get stuck into. The 3 newcomers don’t leap off the page so we can start to narrow down the field and there look to be 4 horses to concentrate on. I’ll start with Miss Supernova, who is trained by Eric Libaud. A brief examination of her 4th placed finish on debut would show that she was beaten by 9-lengths on the all-weather at Chantilly in March, but there is more to that form than meets the eye. The winner was Pensee du Jour, who has won in Listed and Group 3 company and looks to be Andre Fabre’s first string for the Prix de Diane, whilst the second, Crown Princesse, has also won a group 3 and was last seen finishing 3rd in the Prix Saint-Alary. When you factor that in, we can significantly upgrade this debut. If we take out the 2 superstars, then Miss Supernova finished a close second in a fair maiden on the PSF and with natural improvement, she should go close here. However, this isn’t an easy assignment and with a pedigree that would suggest this 10-furlong trip will be the furthest she would want to go, she may well find a strong stayer coming past her.
The other 3 Fillies to consider all finished 2nd on their last starts. Del Cielo has some solid form in the book and finished 2nd at Dieppe in a Heavy ground maiden when she travelled like the winner but wasn’t able to quicken in the closing stages. That was a good effort and she definitely improved from her debut 4th on the PSF, but she is a daughter of Camelot and I just wonder if she really possesses the necessary turn-of-foot to win at a speed track like Le Mans. Her sectional times at Dieppe and in particular on debut at Chantilly leave that open to question. Winning Side has course form in the book already after finishing 2nd on her debut here 4-weeks ago. That race was over 2,300m and having got into a promising position, she looked the most likely winner as they turned for home but was outpaced on the run-in by the winner Kiss Me Du Bourg. The 3rd placed Snowfinch dropped back to a mile and won at Vichy on her next start so there is some substance to his form and if getting to lead, which seems highly likely from a good draw, she could make all the running, but the evidence of her debut leave a few doubts about the speed she possesses and if something gets upsides her in the closing stages, she may be vulnerable.
I’ll have to wait for the markets to form before deciding whether to have a bet (I am writing this on Tuesday morning), but if I can get a fair price of 3/1 or bigger about Hennezis, she would be my pick in this race. A daughter of Almanzor, she overcame a tardy start and a lack of racing room to finish 2nd on her debut at Angers in November. Having dropped to the rear, she made her way through the field and was forced to switch in the closing stages, which left her with too much to do against a winner who had a very clear passage throughout. The winner of that race, Colonia Victoria, has finished 4th in a Listed race in Germany this season, whilst the 3rd and 5th have both won races since to boost the form. The front 2 pulled 5-lengths clear of the rest in a race with a finishing speed percentage of 101.2%, so I think it is safe to trust this form. Although stall 11 may not seem ideal, there is a run through the home straight before the first bend so she should have time to slot in and if able to get within a few lengths on the lead, she should have too much speed where it matters.
Next, we move on to the Colts and Geldings and this is a much more difficult puzzle to solve. The 2 newcomers don’t look obvious debut winners, but Pushkin appeals more. He is a Lawman gelding out of a Sea the Stars mare who is a half-sister to Principe, a gelding that Peter Schiergen did well with in France in 2022. He probably needs a longer trip, but the yard does have winners here (2 winners from 5 runners in the last 5 years) and so you couldn’t entirely rule him out on debut if he is ready to go.
Chiareggio has run a pair of nice races so far, finishing 2nd on debut before a never nearer 4th placed finish at Paris Longchamp last time. He was dropped in last time and in a race that was steadily run, he did well to get within 3-lengths of the winner, but he did hang in behind runners in the closing stages which would be an obvious concern. Whilst it isn’t easy to get a handle on his form, if we look at the official ratings that the French handicapper has allocated to those horses around him, he has perhaps run to a mark of 35. That would put him slightly ahead of Rio Grande, who has a mark of 34.5 after 3 runs on the PSF at Lyon La Soie, but that doesn’t set an insurmountable bar.
The strongest form on offer looks to be the race at Chateuabriant, where Prince of Dawn and Saint Etienne finished 2ndand 3rd respectively. The winner of that race, Broadfield, looks to be a smart type for Juddmonte and Francis-Henri Graffard and so the runs of the placed horses behind him are probably closer to a mark of 40. Saint Etienne made the running in that race, with Broadfield on his heels the whole way, but he failed to quicken when it mattered and was passed by both the winner and Prince of Dawn with some authority in the closing stages. Saint Etienne will probably lead here, but unless the race is run at an end-to-end gallop, which seems unlikely, there is no reason to think that the Chateaubriant form won’t be upheld. I thought Prince of Dawn should be around a 6/4 favourite to win this and that would look fair.
4:00 – Hennezis
4:35 – Prince of Dawn