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Prix de la Croix de Pontarme

Horses racing at Chantilly, France

This Saturday’s card at Chantilly gets underway with a fascinating 3-year-old contest where all 5 runners arrive as “last time out winners”. We have a couple of runners with Prix du Jockey Club entries, although there are probably some much stronger prospects with classic claims running at Paris Longchamp next weekend. However, the Prix de la Croix de Pontarme stood out on paper as likely to be a piece of form worth following.


I’ll start with Flywire. He was a winner on debut on the PSF track here at the start of the month. He’s a Frankel half-brother to Royalmania and Queen’s Jewel and although he took his time to get up to top speed last time, once he was able to lengthen his stride, he stayed on powerfully to hold off the late challenge from Blue Brother. That was a pleasing debut and I think that he is likely to prove to be a better horse on the turf, but in a small field without an obvious front runner, I am concerned that he may prove to be vulnerable to a more genuine turn-of-foot. Augustin Madamet could decide to make his own running in an effort to negate that risk, but in a small field it will require a very cute ride and so I think he is worth opposing.


Columbus was a winner on debut too, having got his head in front on the PSF at Deauville in November. He idled in front, but still found more when asked and he was 5-lengths clear of the 3rd placed Al Daayen at the line, who won next time to boost the form. He should improve and will clearly have learned a lot on debut, but this is a marked rise in class for him and I’d be happy enough to let him run in a race this deep.


We have 2 sons of Zarak in the field, Xylophone and Daring Prince. The former was a winner of a Durtal maiden at the back end of last year and although he was receiving weight on the day thanks to his riders claim, he was 10-lengths ahead of the 36-kilo rated Sherkane at the line. There is some substance to that form, but if we assume he ran to a mark of 37-38-kilos, that will still leave him with a lot to find here. Daring Prince is much more interesting. He was a winner at Saint-Cloud back in November when he powered away in the closing stages to beat Mister Gatz by 6-lengths. The second came out and won next time to boost the form and the fact that he has already shown that he will handle soft ground makes him of obvious interest.


Stephane Wattel runs 2 in the race, and it may be significant that Theo Bachelot has chosen to ride the filly, Morning Air. She won on her 3rd start on the same day as Daring Prince in November and the times that the pair of them ran are practically identical. She was briefly off the bridle as they turned for home but as soon as she quickened, she came clear with ease to win by 8-lengths. On that evidence, she should be favourite for this race, but I do wonder if she will find this tougher against the boys and the form of those in behind her last time is weaker than those horses that some of the other runners have beaten. When I priced the race, I had very little between the 2 Wattel horses and so the fact that Daring Prince is over a point bigger at the time of writing (10/3 compared to 15/8 Morning Air) makes him a better bet. He holds entries in the Prix du Jockey Club and the Grand Prix de Paris, which shows the regard in which he is held. Whether he is quite up to that level is open to debate, but I think he has achieved at least as much as his stablemate and the other maiden winners in here and today he should get the chance to prove it.

Racecard for the Prix de la Croix de Pontarme

The market for this race at the time of publishing
The market for this race at the time of publishing 8:30am


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