Having listened to a well known Podcast with the master trainer, he mentioned 2 that the yard had purchased from a 3-year-old race at Auteuil in March. Keen to find any angle with French runners, this excited my curiosity to look into the 2 horses, Monmiral and Hell Red, mainly to see if they were worth following.
They have both had one start in France, having finished 1st and 2nd in a 3-year-old conditions hurdle at Auteuil on 14th March this year, 3 days before Racing shutdown. With the race so close to the shutdown, it is harder to assess the overall form, as it was several months break before any of the runners reappeared on the track. However, when I compared the sectional times for the race to other hurdles on the day, in particular the 3-year-old fillies hurdle and the Grade 3 Prix D’Indy hurdle run on the same day, this race works out quite nicely.
The first 2 home in the fillies race, Sainte Candy and Anita Du Berlais, have both run well in pattern company and Monmiral matched their times on the day. When we look at this hurdle race in detail, Monmiral definitely travelled better than Hell Red. This son of Saints des Saints travelled very smoothly throughout and took up the running at the 3rd last. Theo Chevillard was keen to give his mount a good site of his hurdles and even though he dived at the last, Monmiral was always in command and pulled nicely away under mostly hands and heels on the run to the line. He is definitely a nice prospect for Juvenile hurdling this season
By contrast, Hell Red did not travel nearly as well as Monmirall. He was keen and took time to settle and was a difficult ride for Bertrand Lestrade. However, in many ways his performance was far more eye-catching, given how well he stayed on the heavy ground, in spite of being so keen early on and it was very noticeable how well he galloped all the way to the line. Whilst Monmiral was clearly the more mature horse in march, in time I think there will be more to come from Hell Red. He will be the first to make his debut in the UK, as he has been entered in the Juvenile hurdle at Chepstow this Saturday. That galloping track should suit him as he has already shown that he has plenty of stamina. If he has learned to settle a little better, he could be very hard to beat on his UK debut.
Both have come from top French yards, Monmiral from Francois Nicolle and Hell Red from Guillaume Macaire, so they will have been well schooled and could be ahead of their rivals on that front. It is obviously far too early to be thinking about any sort of Triumph hurdle bet or anything silly like that, but Paul Nicholls spoke positively about them both and on the evidence we have, they could both pay their way over hurdles this season. Given how well they performed in march at Auteuil, I could see them both picking up a prize before Christmas.