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Prixdelahorse Tracker - St Donats

3-year-old Gelding

Saint-des-Saints x Cue to Cue (King’s Theatre)

Trained by Hugo Merienne

Owned by W J Williams and H Merienne

Form 1 1

Prize money earned €32,160

St Donats has the ideal National Hunt pedigree, the progeny of Saint des Saints out of a King’s Theatre mare, he is bred to do the job and has been extremely impressive in both starts to date. A winning debutante in a newcomers hurdle at Dieppe in May, that form has subsequently been boosted by the 2nd winning on his next start, whilst the 3rd had been an impressive bumper winner at Durtal the time before. Add in that the final circuit time was the fastest of the 5 hurdle races on the card that day and over 1.5s quicker than the course average so far this year and we have the makings of an above average juvenile hurdler.

It was no surprise to see him well supported for his 2nd start in the Prix Rocking Chair at Auteuil on 4th June, sent off the 11/8 Favourite in the International markets. Last years Prix Rocking Chair produced subsequent graded winners Kyrov, Sans Bruit and Golden Son, with the now Willie Mullins trained and Cheltenham Festival runner up Gaelic Warrior only 3rd. This years race was a procession and In truth St Donats dominated it and came clear in the closing stages to record a 7-length victory over his nearest pursuer, the well thought of Captain du Berlais (Francois Nicolle). He produced another quick time figure too, though it should be noted that there was significant rainfall on the day that may have flattered his time figure when compared to those races held later on the card.

His trainer, Hugo Merienne, is one of the rising stars of the French National Hunt scene. Hugo was good enough to provide me with an update on St Donats “ the horse is on holidays for 3 weeks now, he won’t run until the reopening of Auteuil this autumn. We haven’t taken a formal decision about his future yet, but I think there is a lot of chances that we will send him over fences in the autumn. He is not as mature as some others can be, there is a lot to improve still with him. He only had 3 months of work when he first ran and was broken only last winter. Unless he really changes when he comes back, we won’t send him against the best 3yo which have had at least 6 months in training more than he has. Even if he wins it, it’s going to be tough race, whereas over fences, his natural ability over jumps will be a huge advantage and will make it easier for him. Also, Chasing will give him the maturity he is missing, and it doesn’t mean he would not go back over hurdles later on”

3-year-old Chasing is one of the highlights of the French National Hunt season and with French horses schooled much earlier than their British and Irish counterparts, it can allow them to develop into superb jumpers far sooner. Whether St Donats goes over fences or remains over hurdles later in the autumn, he is the first name for the tracker regardless.

My thanks to Hugo Merienne for his help with this piece. Thanks for reading, don’t forget to subscribe to our free email updates on the homepage.


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