JIPEKAA MACHIN (Donald McCain)
Another French recruit to have been given an education by Hugo Merienne, the fact that this horse has opened 10/11 in the early markets for his UK debut speaks volumes to his chances and ability. 3rd on debut at Royan in an AQPS bumper in August, he ran with credit to fill the same position on his next 2 starts over hurdles at Dieppe and Clairefontaine. The form of the Clairefontaine race has worked out quite nicely as the 2 horses to finish ahead of him have both placed on their next starts. Having tracked the leaders, he was briefly outpaced between the final 2 flights, but once he was switched at the final hurdle he knuckled down nicely to run on into 3rd and hit the line well. The stiffer finish at Sedgefield looks an ideal starting point for him and in what looks a match, he should be capable of getting the better of Rebecaa Menzies Cartmel winner The Churchill Lad, especially as he receives 7lbs.
Bought for 35,000 guineas at the Tatts online sale in September, his dam is a hurdles winner and there are several hurdle winners in her immediate family. His Sire, Saonois, has had 4 winning progeny over hurdles from a relatively small number of runners and Jipekaa Machin has shaped like a horse who will soon add to that. He did appear to hang to his left at the final flight in the Clairefontaine race, but that is the only incidence I have seen of this in his 3 starts and may just have been a result of being pulled right to find racing room. This looks a good opportunity for him, as those rivals with experience on the Flat look badly out of form and the race won by The Churchill Lad at Cartmel has not really worked out. Nobody rides Sedgefield better than Brian Hughes, with 54 winners over hurdles in the last 5 seasons at a 24% strike rate. He should get him into the perfect position and given that he is likely to be doing his best work at the finish, he should make a winning start to his British career.
RECORD ART (Fergal O’Brien)
With every French horse that is purchased by British or Irish connections I like to try and put a positive spin on their prospects and I shall attempt to do the same with Record Art. It is fair to say that he didn’t achieve a great deal in his 5 starts on the Flat in France, at first for the Caullery team and latterly for Yoeri Mathijs. He has joined Fergal O’Brien for a Juvenile hurdling career and there are at least some signs in his pedigree that this could bring out some improvement. He is a half-brother to Art Approval and Authorised Art, who have both won races over hurdles, the former for this yard and the latter for Willie Mullins. His Sire Recorder has had very few runners over hurdles in his short career as a Stallion, with 1 win over obstacles on his roster so far. His dam was an 11-race maiden, but she is a half-sister to 3 winners on the Flat and whilst the family is not part of Racing royalty, there is a smattering of quality if you look hard enough.
Would I back him to make a winning start at Ludlow? No. He will need to show a lot more than he has managed so far, but he is still only 3 and neither of his siblings showed anything on the Flat when they were trained in France. Fergal O’Brien trained Fils de Roi to make a winning start in a similar contest at Huntingdon on Sunday, so I won’t make the same mistake of entirely writing him off on his UK debut.