Race of the Day - 27th April
R2 Prix De Ferrieres
This is a Class 2 Conditions race for 3-year-olds who have not won in Class 2 or above and who have not placed in pattern company, but don’t let that fool you. This is one of the best 3-year-old races we have seen so far this year in France. 5 runners go to post, and they have all won races. First Minister and Silver Crack both hold entries for the Prix du Jockey Club and the Grand Prix de Paris, but an impressive performance from any of the other 3 here could easily see them supplemented for those races later in the season.
This is a small field and there isn’t an obvious pace angle, but based on their recent outings I would expect either Serienmond or First Minister to make the running. They are the 2 horses who are bred to stay furthest, Serienmond is a Sea the Moon Colt who was beaten over shorter trips in Germany as a Juvenile. He came good on his 3rd start for Peter Schiergen when making all to win at Strasbourg in March where he essentially galloped the rest of the field into submission. Visually this was a very impressive performance, but the sectional times show that he ran the final 3-furlongs in 37.91s at a finishing speed percentage of 106%, which on soft ground looks to be the performance of a stayer. The placed horses have been beaten since and, in this field, I don’t believe he will have the necessary turn-of-foot to repel the challengers when they come along side. It’s a similar story for First Minister. He is a Galileo Colt out of a Giant’s Causeway mare and although he did well to win on debut at Saint-Cloud in October, his limitations were exposed on his comeback at the same track last month. He travelled well enough, but once the pace lifted, he was readily left behind by the eventual winner Elusive Princess. To his credit he stuck to his task to run on for third and the winner has gone on to finish 2nd in a Group 3 next time to boost the form, but at this trip he must surely be vulnerable. He is a full brother to the likes of Flowering Peach and Prose, who have both proven to be dour staying types for Aiden O’Brien. Later in the season, when he steps up in trip on softer going, he could easily develop into a Pattern class performer, but I think he will find things happening too quickly for him here.
Double Major was probably unlucky not to make a winning start to his career when he bumped into a well-supported Andre Fabre Colt on debut. At the time, the Fabre yard was in full swing and had unleashed a series of impressive winning debutantes on the PSF and but for the presence of Iles et Ailes, Double Major would have made a winning start to his career. That form has yet to be really tested, but he made no mistake on his second start when staying on strongly to win at Toulouse 3-weeks ago. That form reads well enough, the placed horses had hit the frame on their debuts and the fourth has an official rating of 37.5k, but he took his time to get on top in that contest and he probably has 10-15lbs to find with some potentially top-class rivals here. His Dam was Listed placed, and he is a half-brother to a Group 3 winner, so there are definitely races to be won with him, but this could prove to a step too far so early in his career.
The Class Angle
This race looks to be the most obvious place for both Feed the Flame and Silver Crack to take the next step in their careers. I will start with Feed the Flame, who has already won over this course and distances when he made a winning debut here 3-weeks ago. He is a Kingman Colt out of a Montjeu mare who has produced his half-brother, the US Grade 3 winner Sacred Life. Unlike the rest of this field, he is bred for this trip and judging by the way he travelled and quickened through the race here on debut, he could potentially drop back to a mile in future. He was still on the bridle at the 500-metre pole before being shaken up and quickening away with ease under Christophe Soumillon. The 2nd placed horse, Cocktail Prince, did let the form down slightly when only 6th at Saint-Cloud yesterday, but that can be put down by the obsession with heading to the stands rail at that track and he wasted too much energy trying to get across and as a result did not stay the extended trip. In any case, Feed the Flame beat him by over 5-lengths and with closing sectionals of 10.65 and 10.95s, at a top speed of 67.3km/h, he was in a different class anyway. You should never compare the sectionals from one track to another, but those are the fastest split times run by any horse in this field so far.
Now for Silver Crack. As his name suggests, he is by Cracksman out of a Royal Applause mare who has the Roger Varian trained Toofi and the Listed placed Silver Meadow amongst her progeny. He was an easy winner on debut at Saint-Cloud, powering away to win by 7-lengths having tracked the pace on the early stages. He ran the final 3-furlongs over a second quicker than any other horse in the race and although the placed horses have yet to reappear, the fifth placed Wukhaan did win on his next start at Salon-de-Provence last week. It’s a completely different track and the race was run at a slower gallop than the contest won by Feed the Flame, but it should be noted that his closing sectionals and top speed of 62.6km/h was some way below that of Feed the Flame. Now he wasn’t fully extended, and he may well be capable of running faster, but it does put an interesting spin on the form.
I have attached a screenshot of the current market for the race at the time of publishing (courtesy of AtTheRaces). When you read this piece, it may well seem that only 2 horses can win this race and so the forecast may be tempting, but I treat that with caution. We have a pair of potentially top-class horses with speed in their pedigree running here and if we were to run this race 100 times, I would expect them to win 95 of those races between them. However, they have both only had 1 start and with rivals like Serienmond and First Minister likely to stay further, there is always the chance that they will keep on into the placings if one or other of the principles tires and is eased off. Visually Silver Crack was the more impressive debutante, and he is the most likely winner, but I suspect that he has been priced up because he is trained by the more “fashionable” Jean-Claude Rouget yard and there is some evidence in the times data to suggest that there is too much difference between his price and that of Feed the Flame to make him value. It would be a small stake for me given the class of the opposition, but I think Feed the Flame has the potential to be a pattern class 3-year-old and so I’ll take a chance on him.