The Compiegne card this Thursday is worth a total of €521,000 in prize money, more than the 4 British cards on the same day put together, but that is an endless debate for another time. The G3 Prix Leopold D’Orsetti is the feature race, the Compiegne Champion hurdle equivalent and the €120,000 prize fund means every horse who makes it round will win at least €3000. Not a bad race to watch on a Thursday by any means but it is the €12000 3-Y-O Claiming Chase that interests me most. I am aware that is probably quite sad, but when you devote all your time to French Juveniles, these races are the ones you look forwards to and you never know when the next “Adagio” type is going to spring up.
7-runners will go to post for this 3550 metre contest, or just shy of 2-miles 2-furlongs in old money if you prefer. We will take them in race card order to assess what value you could get for your money, starting at the top with GREY BIRD. He is in for 100% at a Claiming price of €20,000 for his owner/trainer Eric Lecoiffier and as a son of Kendargent, he should be fine on the ground. Not a detailed write up but he pulled up after the 3rd last at Auteuil last weekend, having never really travelled and with very few winners in the pedigree, it’s hard to be too enthusiastic. PAINT PRINCE is next and he offers a few more positives. He is in for 45% at a Claiming price of €18,000 and brings some solid form to the table, including a win at Compiegne over hurdles in June. He finished 4th in a similar contest here on 30th October, splitting 2 of todays rivals on that occasion. On the face of it, he has some work to do to reverse that form, but a closer examination of the form and the sectional times show that he was much better than the bare result. The winner of that race, Idylle Fleurie and the 2nd Oh Marie were given positive rides and having been ridden more patiently, Paint Prince was last as they jumped the 4th last with a mountain to climb to get involved. Under a relatively gentle ride, it looked like he would be allowed to coast home, but he kept on into a never nearer 4th place, running from the 3rd last to the line in 56.99s, almost a second quicker than the 3rd placed horse who we will come to in a moment. Making allowance for that run being better than the form would suggest, a more prominent ride here will most likely see him reverse the form.
That race on the 30th October has worked out reasonably well, the 2nd Oh Marie ran well at Auteuil over hurdles this Saturday whilst the 6th placed horse, Idylle du Seuil also hit the frame at Nimes over the weekend, so I think we can trust it as a piece of form in the context of this race.
TACARES runs for Davide Satalia and has already won over fences this month, winning a 3YO Chase at Nimes on the 1st when he got the better of a Lageneste and Macaire favourite, Irresistable Pol. That win was his 2nd in a fortnight, as he had also won over hurdles at Auteuil in October. He clearly thrives on his racing as this will be his 7th start in the last 2 months, but there were signs on his last run that he was perhaps reaching the end of his form. He ran in a 3YO hurdle at Auteuil on 14th November, where he made the running before fading into a 16-length 6th placed finish. He didn’t set an overly strong gallop so there were no significant excuses for the lacklustre finish and it maybe that he is now ready for a break. He has amassed over €24000 of prize money in the last 12-months and there are plenty of races for him next year if anyone chooses to make a claim at the €18000 price, but he may need a break before he is ready to go again.
That brings us to TAKING POWER, who finished 7-lengths in front of Paint Prince over this course and distance 3-weeks ago. On the bare form he would look to hold that rival, but the times show he ran the closing 3 flights in 57.79s and that if Paint Prince had been upsides him at the 3rd last, he would have beaten him to the line. A career record of 0-13 is starting to ring some alarm bells now and given that he has finished in the first four in 6 of those races, there is a suggestion that he is capable of running on when the race is over, rather than challenging for the win. The Dehez team had a horse run well to finish 2nd at Fontainebleau earlier in the week (Ete de Carl, finished 2nd) so there is no real concern over their form, but his profile and the time analysis from the race here last month would suggest he is a doubt to uphold that form, let alone break his maiden tag at the 14th time of asking. For €14000 he is a “fun” horse, rather than a potential improver for any potential buyers.
UNE PLACE A TABLE finished 5th in the race here on 30th October. She is a daughter of Spanish Moon, trained by Brian Beaunez who started November in flying form. The yard has a relatively small number of horses in training and have managed 5 wins from 72 runners this year to date. UNE PLACE A TABLE has made 6 starts since her debut at Durtal in April and did run fairly well when 4th on his hurdles debut here in June, though she hasn’t really built on that debut effort since. She looks held by both Paint Prince and Taking Power on their most recent run when they both saw out the race better than she did and it may be that she is a longer term prospect.
Daniela Mele trains both of the remaining runners, with BLACK BEACH the first in the running order. He made his debut in a Doha maiden in Qatar in 2020, so it is surprising to see him anywhere near a hurdle, but he has run to a fair standard since starting his French career at Le Touquet in September. He had 2 runs over hurdles before making his chase debut at Meslay-Du-Maine earlier this month, finishing a 9-length 5th to Lord D’ex. He jumped soundly but was readily outpaced when they sprinted for home off the final bend. If this race is run to suit, he might outrun his odds, but the suspicion is that he is vulnerable to a horse with a turn-of-foot. For €14000 there are worse claims, he has 3 winning siblings, including Stromboli who has won 12 times on the flat for the Plisson team, mainly over middle distance trips on the flat. It may be that he needs more time, but he has only made 4 career starts so it is not impossible to think there will be more to come in time.
The other runner for the Mele yard is the only filly in the lineup ETINCELLE DU RHEU. She is in for €16000 and if I had my choice and the obvious necessary funds, she would be my pick. She is a 12th foal and there is some hope from that pedigree that she will take to chasing, though there is a bit of a mixed bag of ability amongst the family. She made her debut on the Flat at Clairefontaine in August and has 2 significant pieces of form in her 4 starts that make her interesting. The debut at Clairefontaine was very encouraging as she kept on nicely to finish 2nd to a well backed winner, One More Light. The form of that race has worked out very well, the winner, 3rd and 5th have all won races since and the 4th placed horse has put together a string of decent efforts in Germany for Andreas Suborics and is now rated 33 on the flat. The 2nd piece of form came over hurdles at Nantes in October where she finished a 6-length 3rd to A Votre Bon Choeur over 3500 metres. The 2nd won on her next start and the 3rd ran very well at Fontainebleau last week to give a solid look to the form.
Now before you wonder what this unexposed superstar filly is doing in a claimer, I should also discuss her other 2 runs. She finished 7th in a Listed hurdle at Auteuil in September when she was simply outclassed but her final start, when she finished a well beaten 6th at Argentan 4 weeks ago takes a bit more explaining. Her backers would have been fairly confident at halfway as she was still travelling powerfully and looked the most likely winner as they turned for home. However, once she jumped the 2nd last it was apparent that she was being readily outpaced and she was allowed to make her won way home on the run-in, beaten nearly 9-lengths. It is possible that she was in the wrong place, as the better ground was clearly alongside the stands rail and she raced away from it, but the more likely explanation is that the race became a sprint for home once they turned in and she was simply outpaced. The stiff finish at Compiegne should be more suitable, as it was at Nantes and with Tacares highly likely to go forwards and set a decent pace, the race could be run to suit.
From a betting point of view, ETINCELLE DU RHEU would be my pick. I’m not a huge fan of betting in claiming races as you always have that nagging doubt about who is trying to win, who is happy to risk the claim, who is trying to agin more experience, etc. However, there are several nice types in here who have run to a decent standard in their first seasons over obstacles, but Etincelle Du Rheu could possibly have more improvement in her.