The Flat season is about to step up a gear all across Europe and the first 2-year-old race of 2022, the Prix du Premier Pas, takes place at Lyon-Parilly this Sunday (11:00am UK Time). The first point to make about this newcomers maiden is that it is not over 5-furlongs. The official distance is set at 900-metres, which equates to around 4 1/2 furlongs, so the emphasis will be on speed above all else. The majority of the 10 strong field are February or March foals, so they should be relatively well forwards for this early season debut, though the pedigrees on offer are a mixed bag and suggest that many of the runners may need more time and distance to be seen at their best. There are 9 fillies and 1 colt going to post, with Texas Hold’em giving 1.5-kilos to his 9 female rivals. The straight track at Lyon-Parilly doesn’t have a particularly strong draw bias and the fact that we only have 10 going to post should mean that everyone will get a fair chance, though the obvious aid of having a rail to run against in the closing stages could be a plus for whichever jockey can get across to it. The sprint track joins the main circuit just before the 2-furlong and the sprint for home is like to develop at that point.
Last year the race was won by Josejosephine (Christophe Plisson), who broke well from a low draw and tracked the pace before getting the better of Maroon Six in a driving finish. She won on her next start at Paris Longchamp, whilst Maroon Six and the 3rd placed horse Best Sixteen also went on to win races, with Best Sixteen achieving the highest rating after a Listed success at Vichy in July. In a similar vein to the Brocklesby at Doncaster or the Prix De La Marche at Saint-Cloud, the best horse does not always win this race. It is generally won by the horse most suited by the conditions and most importantly, the horse with enough maturity to handle the occasion. We can never be certain, we are dealing with unraced juveniles after all, but here’s a brief look at what we can expect from the 10-runners going to post on Sunday morning.
Tasleet x Mulhimatty (Invincible Spirit)
A son of first-season Sire Tasleet, TEXAS HOLD’EM has a pedigree that suggests he is likely to have speed in abundance. The only colt in this field, his Sire won 5-times over 6 and 7-furlongs, including 3 wins as a Juvenile and his dam, Mulhimatty, is a daughter of Invincible Spirit and won on her debut for Charlie Hills at Newbury in 2017. Most interestingly, the grand-dam, Raasekha, who also won as a juvenile for the Hills yard, is a half-sister to champion sprinter and leading Sire Muhaarar. With so much precocity and speed in his pedigree, Texas Hold’em looks ideally bred for these early season maidens over the sprint trips.
Kheleyf x Claudia Eria (Hold That Tiger)
A filly by Kheleyf, she is related to several winners, though the pedigree is reasonably limited. Her dam, Claudia Eria, achieved a peak rating of 34.5 and won 2 of her 48 starts. She was fairly precocious, winning on her 3rd start as a Juvenile and she ended her first season on the track with that peak rating, although it is fair to say that she and her siblings did regress after promising starts to their careers. Chopinambour is bred to be a miler and although the Escuder team is very capable of readying a newcomer, she is probably a longer term prospect.
Whipper x Country Davis (Stravinsky)
A daughter of Prix Maurice de Gheest winner Whipper, Kassar Said has a mixed pedigree that would probably suggest today is more likely to be about the experience rather than the win. Her dam Country Davis achieved a French rating of 29 and won over 10-furlongs at Cagnes-Sur-Mer. She has produced 2 other winning progeny, who have won over 10-12 furlongs on the Flat and also over fences. The grand-dam does offer some hope, as she won over 7-furlongs at Maisson-Laffitte before ending her career in the US, but the safe play would be to assume that she may need a little more time.
Alex the Winner x Peace of Oasis (Oasis Dream)
There is a little bit more precocity about our next filly Pinerola. Alex the Winner descends from Storm Cat and often passes a decent turn of foot on to his progeny and he has already been successful when crossed with an Oasis Dream mare with Zonza, who won his first 3 starts for the Guillemin yard and went on to be 4th in the Prix Morny. Her dam, Peace of Oasis achieved a peak rating of 44.5 and won as a juvenile, eventually earning black type when she won the Listed Prix Rose de Mai at Saint-Cloud. Although she will almost certainly stay further than sprint trips, Pinerola is one of the more interesting fillies in this maiden for the very shrewd JPJ Dubois and Sebastian Culin.
Pedro the Great x Sitelle (American Post)
Sold for €20,000 at the October Arqana sales, Greatel is a daughter of the 26-rated Sitelle who raced all over Europe for Phillippe Decouz and later Stanislav Kovar. The grand-dam did win on debut and ran well to a fair standard over trips up to 10-furlongs before eventually running over hurdles, winning once at Angers. With a pedigree that includes Pedro the Great and American Post, she is unlikely to be short of speed and her page is not devoid of hope that she could turn out to be a reasonable prospect in time.
Elusive City x Key Success (Kodiac)
Her dam was 0-7 and in truth didn’t achieve a great deal on the track, but she has had much more success as a broodmare courtesy of her first foal Axdavali. He is a very speedy type, who was a precocious 2-year-old in 2020 for Yann Barberot and although he can be a frustrating type to back, he has plenty of speed and ability. The family page also boasts Music Theory, who won twice as a juvenile for Charlie Appleby and finished 3rd in the Solario Stakes behind Kingman in 2013. Most of the family have shown a good attitude and are strong travellers, which could offer some hope that Axdaliva could make her mark at 2, though she is an April foal so it is important to remember that she may need the outing.
BOTTLE OF BUBBLES
Cotai Glory x Somedaysrdiamonds (Equiano)
The 2nd of the Marnane runners, Bottle of Bubbles is certainly bred to be a sprinter. A daughter of the Molecomb winner Cotai Glory, her dam won twice over the minimum trip for Stan Moore, including as a juvenile. The grand-dam has produced 6 winning sprinters, of which Your Pal Tal and The Magic of Rio are perhaps the most well known. On paper she looks to be the ideal type for the Gudayer/Marnane connections and although her stablemate looks the most obvious type in this field, she is not discounted on debut.
Birchwood x Notre Sage (Sageburg)
An €18000 purchase at the December sales in 2020, Saggezza is a daughter of Notre Sage, who won as a juvenile on debut for Phillippe Decouz in 2016. She never won again in her 23-race career, but she was very precocious on that Chantilly debut and the grand-dam, Numerieus won 3-times at 2, including at Listed level. The family tend to start their careers well before struggling to improve, but given the early pace and speed shown by Birchwood, this could be a decent blend for a precocious 2-year-old and she is one of the more likely types to give a good account of herself on debut.
Wootton Bassett x Burford Belle (Sinndar)
Although she is a February Foal, everything about the page of Miss Etoile would suggest that she is likely to need more time and more importantly distance, before she is seen to best effect. Her dam raced just once, finishing 4th in an 11-furlong maiden on the all weather at Lyon La Soie. She has produced several progeny who have reached the track, though they are a combined 0-23 so far, but the majority of the family have needed a longer trip. Wootton Bassett may inject some much needed speed into the pedigree, but on balance, she looks to be a longer term prospect who may struggle to keep up with some of the more speedy types.
SEABELLE FAL MOR
Sea the Moon x Belleire (Soldier of Fortune)
It probably doesn’t take a genius to work out that this Filly is likely to need a little more time and distance to be seen to best effect. Her Sire, Sea the Moon is making a name for himself, but as a middle distance Stallion. Whilst her dam, Belleire, was a 0-25 maiden who raced at 12-furlongs and beyond. The page is not devoid of hope, the grand-dam was a 46-rated mare who has produced 3 progeny who have earned black type on their CVs, but it will be a surprise if Seabelle Fal More has the speed for this trip.
The first point to make is that you should be very cautious if you decide to have a bet in these races. Regardless of what information we have available on breeding, pedigree, yard form or work on the gallops, we are dealing with unraced juveniles in the early part of a long flat season. With no previous form to go on, I am more than happy to admit that there is good deal of “educated guessing” involved in this kind of analysis. The most simplistic approach would be that there is 1 colt against 9-fillies. Texas Hold’em has a nice page, is bred to be a precocious sprinter and as an early February foal, if he is ready to do himself justice, he should probably win. The Marnane team are very adept at bringing precocious juveniles to the track and look to have found an ideal opportunity to get their 2022 juvenile campaign off to a winning start.
If I were to rank the runners by pedigree and likely speed, then a 1,2 for the Marnane silks would not look beyond the realms of possibility, as Bottle of Bubbles also makes plenty of appeal as a sprint prospect. The likelihood is that one or both of them will break smartly and make the running, but that is not to say that this is a 2-horse race, as there are others in this field, most notably Axdaliva who could be suited by having a strong pace to track on debut. I find the best way to approach this type of race is to sort the horses into 2 categories, those that are bred to be precocious Juvenile prospects and those that are bred for the longer term and so that is how I will end this piece below. I am sure that there are better youngsters on the way and although it is not impossible, there is unlikely to be a champion 2-year-old prospect lurking in this race, but it is nice to have the 2-year-old racing back on the agenda all the same.
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Bottle of Bubbles
Longer Term Prospects
Seabelle Fal Mor