Quietly Pleasing Debuts
There is a lot of Racing over the Easter Weekend. By my count, there have been 6 meetings in Ireland, 19 in Britain and 22 in France across the 4-days of Easter. That is simply too much racing to keep an eye on and to have anything other than a cursory look at each meeting would require a time machine. I stopped trying to do that a long time ago and even by focusing just in France, on weekends like this I have to pick and choose through some of the smaller meetings and the Provincial races to get it all covered. The Easter highlight is obviously Spes Militurf winning at Compiegne. He has returned to winning ways after being brought down at Lyon last month and all roads now surely lead to Paris in May. So, with my regular appreciation of Europe’s best National Hunt horse out of the way, we can move on to a couple of other horses who looks worthy of a mention after making impressive starts to their careers this weekend.
Serenade – Won 3YO Claimer at Nancy Saturday 8th April.
I wouldn’t normally want to get overly excited about a win in Claiming company, even if it was on debut, but Serenade was eye-catching for several reasons. Firstly, she had a few first-time out winners in her immediate family and although her page is not outstanding, she didn’t look the type on paper to be making her debut at such a lowly level. She looked keen going to post and although she broke smartly, the way she ran, including when hurdling the path, would perhaps give a clue as to why she was entered in this grade for her debut. Waldemar Hickst has a decent record at Nancy and will probably have been delighted when looking at the declarations for this race, which was best described as winnable. Despite hurdling the path, she responded well in the closing stages and once she hit the front again, she was always doing enough to get the better of Top Daay. The 2nd sets a fair standard, having won at Cholet last November and has a further 5 placed finishes to her name, though she is a little one paced. She isn’t a group horse by any means, but she can only learn from this experience and with claims submitted for €15,000, she should make up into a nice 3-year-old for connections to have some fun with.
Almanzora/Amalfina – Won/2nd 3YO Newcomers Maiden at Bordeaux Saturday 8th April.
This was a PMH meeting at Bordeaux and so the form is unlikely to be recorded on some of the UK sites, but this 3-year-old maiden for newcomers looked the most significant on paper and so it proved. As you might expect, this race was steadily run in the early stages, in fact the overall time was almost 3s slower than the Class 4 Conditions race run later in the day. The pace began to lift as they rounded the bend for home and with both Almanzora and Amalfina settled in mid-division, they could have pleased their connections if they had finished there given the way this race panned out. However, Almanzora quickened nicely around the outside of the field and powered home in the final furlong to get the better of Amalfina, who had a more difficult passage between horses to challenge closer to the inside. The pair of them pulled readily 4-lengths clear of a well-bred Godolphin Filly in 3rd and both can be considered to have run to mark of between 35-37 kilos on debut (80-85 in UK terms). Amalfina, who is trained by Francois Rohaut, will surely be found a maiden to win next time, whilst Almanzora could step into Class 2 or possibly Listed company for her next start. In truth, the pair of them dominated this race in the closing stages and could both prove to be above average fillies, even if the value of this form is not immediately appreciated because it took place away from the PMU markets.