The first 2-year-old Claiming race of 2022 takes place at Saint-Cloud on Thursday and the Prix de la Marche has a history of producing precocious winners, but they don’t really train on. That is perhaps a harsh assessment of the first Juvenile race to be held at the Metropolitan tracks this season, but the last 4 winners didn’t win another race and so it is best to be cautious with this form. Only 7 go to post for this years race, with 1 Colt and 6 fillies who are in for claims ranging from €20-36k. With such a small field, we can worry much less about the draw bias as every jockey should get a fair run, but much like this Sundays race at Lyon-Parilly, it is important to remember that this contest is being run over just 900 metres and as such the emphasis on speed is greater than ever. Fillies have won the last 4 renewals, with all of them breaking smartly, racing prominently and keeping on best. With decent prize money at stake, connections can often be tempted to chance their arm with Juveniles who have shown up well at home, but the recent results suggest that this race, like many other early season 2-year-old races, is won by the horse bred for sprinting.
Birchwood x Flying Fleur (Lawman)
The Montzey team are very adept at placing their precocious 2-year-olds in the early part of the season, so Sir Alfred does warrant some serious respect, though his pedigree raises a few more questions than answers. He is a son of Birchwood and has a full sister, Madame Babette, who did win as a juvenile claimers at Salon-de-Provence last summer, though those were her 5th and 6th starts on the track. His dam won just once in her 25 starts and although there are a few winners in the family, the majority have needed more time and distance to get their heads in front and despite his connections, the percentage call is probably to oppose him.
Dariyan x Lonely Star (Sleeping Car)
Jane Soubagne won this race in 2018 and 2021, but it will be a surprise if Magic Dariya has the speed to win over this trip on her racecourse debut. She is clearly showing something at home for her connections to enter her here, but as a daughter of Dariyan, out of a maiden hurdler and chaser, she wouldn’t leap off the page as being bred to win a Juvenile sprint. The yard always needs to be respected in this discipline, but there is nothing on her page to support a winning start.
Johnny Barnes x Kenwysa (Kendargent)
Her dam was a 4-race maiden for Christophe Ferland, but she has already produced Ma Noire, an American Devil half-sister who won on her racecourse debut at La Teste in this week last year. She knew her job on debut and if Ma Clair is similarly well forwards, she could make her mark in this contest. The family includes plenty of winners, most notably Prix de Diane winner Valyra and she is one of the more interesting fillies in the lineup.
Olympe de Gouge
Johnny Barnes x Spes Unica (Stormy River)
Another Johnny Barnes Filly, Olympe de Gouge represents the Lemer team. Her dam won 4 of her 20 career starts, though most of her success came over 10-furlongs and beyond. The grand-dam, Campanaca, won as a juvenile and has produced a couple of 2-year-old maiden winners, so there is some hope in the pedigree, but the obvious concern would be whether she has the speed for this trip.
Born to Sea x Mesha Dream (Meshaheer)
The 2nd runner from the Soubagne yard, Angelinna makes a little more appeal than her stablemate and it will be interesting to compare the 2 in the markets when they open. A daughter of Born to Sea, her dam won 7-times, including 4 times as a Juvenile in 2012 on soft ground. She did need a step up to 7-furlongs before she was able to get her head in front, but she was at least precocious, which is more than can be said for some of the pedigrees on offer in this field. She hasn’t produced a great amount as a broodmare, but there are several winning Juveniles in the immediate pedigree and Angelinna does look like one of the more promising types.
Reliable Man x Ana Musica (Green Tune)
Probably needs further. A daughter of Reliable Man, her grand-dam was Group 1 placed over 12-furlongs and everything in the pedigree would suggest that she is going to need further than 900-metres to show her best form. Connections have booked Aurelien Lemaitre and put her into this contest with a €20k claim, but on balance she would be a shock winner at this trip on her debut.
Dragon Pulse x Madame Mistral
The Marnane/Gudayer connections are specialists in getting 2-year-old types to the track in the early season and have already won the opening 2-year-old contest of the season at Lyon Parilly on Sunday. The fact that Christophe Soumillon has been booked for this ride would suggest that they mean business with Inquisitive Mind. A daughter of Dragon Pulse, her dam won on debut over 6-furlongs at Durtal and is a half-sister to another winning debutante, on paper that makes inquisitive Mind the most interesting horse in this field.
Having won the opening Juvenile contest of the season, the Gudayer yard are already off the mark and having looked at the declarations they must be rubbing their hands at the opportunity that has been presented to Inquisitive Mind. If she is as forwards as her stablemate Bottle of Bubbles was on Sunday, then she should win this under Christophe Soumillon. It is very difficult to price a race like this, but I made her around a 6/4 chance, so anything bigger than that would probably be enough to persuade me to get involved. It is not a full gone conclusion, we are dealing with unraced 2-year-olds and Angelinna, Ma Clair and Sir Alfred all represent connections who are very capable of readying a precocious type, but the most obvious horse for a 900-metre dash is definitely in the Marnane Silks.
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Longer Term Prospects
Olympe de Gouge