As the title of this post would suggest, I am very well aware that the eyes of the Racing world are focused on Berkshire this week and that’s perfectly fair. This is the pinnacle week of the British Flat season and sits at the top of the sports pyramid alongside the Breeders Cup, the Arc weekend and a few others. The big fields and draw biases are not for everyone, although I must admit to having a preference for Ascot, even over Cheltenham, as a week’s racing that I look forwards to for a very long time. However, just because it is Ascot week doesn’t mean that there aren’t other good meetings to enjoy, especially in France. So, whilst Ascot is the main plan for my week, there will be a few short posts highlighting any horses that may pop up in France throughout the week, starting with a pair of runners at this evening’s meeting at Nantes who look likely to win.
4:05 – Prix MG Store Nantes
If all goes to plan with today’s selections we will “bookend” the card and we start with the opening race at 4:05, which is a conditions race for the 2-year-olds. There doesn’t appear to be a great deal of depth to this race and the 2 winners in the field look to be the pair to concentrate on. Aquila Volante has already won a race at Nantes, landing a maiden here in May on what was his 4th career start. He had several of today’s rivals in behind that day and there is no obvious reason to think that he won’t uphold that form, even if he was ideally placed on the day. He’s a Gleneagles colt who should appreciate the better ground today and having finished in the frame on all 4 starts, amassing €41k in prizemoney, he sets a decent standard. However, he was well placed behind the leader last time and the form of that maiden can certainly be pulled apart easily enough. Now that he has won a maiden, his options are more limited, and he meets an exciting rival who has probably achieved more at this stage.
Pour Dompter made a pleasing debut when 2nd to Exact in a maiden at Tarbes in early May and the winner has gone in again since in Class 2 company to boost the form. He built on his debut to win nicely at La Teste, pulling clear with the second in a good time and that form looks stronger than the maiden won by Aquila Volante. He travels very strongly in his races and although the 2nd placed Foehn has not been seen since, the pair were 6-lengths clear of the rest at La Teste and they hit the line very strongly. In a small field the draw becomes of little consequence at Nantes and if he matches the La Teste form, he should win, as he is 8lbs clear on the figures that I keep. If there is an improver in the field it may be Tanis, who has run well in a pair of Paris maidens and should improve on better ground, but he has a lot to find with the selection and maybe more of a handicap prospect when the nurseries start next month.
8:15 – Prix Gerald de Rochefort Chase
For a Class 1 contest the turnout for this race is slightly disappointing, but regardless of the field there is a Nantes course specialist in the lineup who should take all the beating. Charmino has won 7-times around here, including twice so far this season and although he has weight to concede, he is a 15lbs better horse at Nantes than elsewhere so don’t let the weight put you off. He dominated a race here last month, giving weight and a beating to Hermes de Mee and there is no obvious reason to think that form will be reversed. He often front runs, which suits at this track and if he gets to the front, it is unlikely that anything else will be able to get past him. Having seen Charmino win unchallenged last time, the other riders may well try to give him a harder time on the lead, and he does meet a rival with more potential this time in the shape of Idylle D’Ainay. She has been running in deeper races than this at Auteuil, including when only 5-lengths behind Ines du Chenet last time out and that form could be enough to at least give Charmino a race. However, the only win of her 10-race career came at Dieppe in a lower-class Fillies chase last May. This looks to be a good opportunity for her to earn some prize money in a small field, but even with the weight that she receives from Charmino, there should only be one winner if the pair fight out the finish.