R1 Prix de Chantilly
It’s an early start for the race of the day this Friday as the opening contest at Chateuabriant looks to be the most informative contest. It is due to go off at 10:40 UK time. Like yesterday, this is a Class 2 contest for the 3-year-olds, and it has the same entry requirements as Thursdays race (3YOs who have not won a C2 or placed in pattern company). Will we see a winner like Feed the Flame? Well, probably not, but I like the shape of this race and after spending an hour or so looking at this, I’ve divided the 6 runners into 3 categories.
Unlikely to Win
I don’t like to entirely rule out any horse, they all have their price after all, but I will be surprised if either Rose du Raz or Akagera are capable of winning this contest. Rose du Raz is a Gemix Filly out of a Nickname mare, and it is very hard to get a handle on her form or her racing career path. She was soundly beaten on debut over a mile at Machecoul in March and followed that effort with a 12-length fourth in a bumper at Saumur. The winner of that race, Johannes, has since been sold and joined David Pipe, but it is hard to be overly enthusiastic about the form and given that she will probably need to run to a Flat mark of 40k to be involved here and that looks unrealistic based on what we know about her so far.
Akagera is more promising. She won on debut in a newcomer’s race at Fontainebleau in November, staying on best in the closing stages having tracked the leaders throughout. That was a Fillies race, and the time was 5s slower than the Colts and Geldings race over the same course and distance, but the second have won since and she was good value for the win on the day. Her connections were probably tilting at windmills when she was entered in the Listed Rose de Mai at Saint-Cloud for her comeback. She was no match for Pensee du Jour or the subsequent Listed winner Cracksmania in 3rd, but she wasn’t disgraced, finishing a 13-length fifth. She ran a similar race when 4th in a Class 2 contest at Fontainebleau last time but having run 3 times she has looked a little awkward and despite wearing a hood, she has struggled to settle and didn’t seem to save anything for the finish. She is still lightly raced and may learn to settle better, but the step up to this trip doesn’t look an obvious move and there are some stronger staying candidates taking her on. In this company against some progressive rivals, she isn’t difficult to oppose.
Orion Rock made a striking impression on debut when winning a Machecoul maiden by 16-lengths in March. Not many horses do that and whilst it looked hard to believe, he matched the time of the 4-year-old Conditions race on the same card and the horse who chased him home has won since to add some substance to the form. He nearly repeated the dose when making the running on his 2nd start at Saint-Cloud, but he couldn’t sustain his effort and looked awkward in the closing stages, hanging his head to one side under pressure. He had nearly run out through the hedge at Machecoul the time before and there is some evidence that he may not be the most straightforward. He is bred to stay well and there is a chance he could get loose on the lead, although if the other jockeys have done their homework he surely won’t be allowed to bowl along in front, but I do have some question marks around his maturity and finishing effort to make me think he is worth taking on.
Sharp Rise is a different prospect altogether. He never looked like winning on his debut at Saint-Cloud in October, but it was a different story at Lion D’Angers 4-weeks ago. He settled towards rear on the Heavy ground before coming with a sustained effort to get on top in the closing stages. He came wide to make his challenge, which looked to be the best strategy on the day, but he confirmed his stamina in the testing conditions and with a relatively low action, he may appreciate the slightly better underfoot conditions at Chateuabriant. His dam is a half-sister to Enable, so there should be no concerns about how well he will stay, though it must be said that the leaders went too hard in Heavy ground at Lion D’Angers and the first 5 home were all held up in the early stages. He did it well and the sectional times show that he was the fastest horse from the 3-furlong pole to the line so there was no fluke about this win. It wasn’t a “sexy” performance, and we don’t yet know what he is capable of in a small field on better ground, but if there is to be an upset in the market, which we will come to later, then he could be it.
The strongest form coming into this race is definitely offered by Hamsiyann and Gallerist. They have both won on the PSF at Lyon La Soie, though annoyingly we don’t have sectional times for those races. Hamsiyann was beaten in 3 starts over what has proved to be an inadequate trip last season but made no mistake when getting the better of subsequent winner Sacred Spirit on his comeback 4-weeks ago. The pair pulled 5-lengths clear of the rest, running the 2,400m in a time of 2:39.80. Now we obviously shouldn’t compare the times of races on different days, even on the PSF, but after a promising debut at Chantilly in February, Gallerist also won over 2,400m at Lyon La Soie and he ran a time of 2:34.28. Hamsiyann ran in a smaller field and the 2 classier types stacked the field and then kicked clear, but not only were they 5 seconds slower than Gallerist but they were 7-seconds slower than the Claiming race won by Wematch (rated 36) over the same course and distance on that card. It’s not a concrete case and Hamsiyann clearly has ability, but it does raise some doubts which we will need to consider when we come to the market in a moment. The form with Scared Spirit looks decent, but Gallerist won by 8-lengths so although he beat inferior horses, he did it in the manner of a good horse. He is by Zoffany out of a New Approach mare and with plenty of stamina in the pedigree, there can be no real doubts about him staying the 2,600m trip. They both raced prominently at Lyon La Soie and so I would expect them to be racing in 2nd and 3rd behind the likely pace setter Orion Rock, but just on the evidence of their maiden wins, there isn’t that much between the pair.
This piece was written on Thursday evening and as you can see from the attached screenshot, I have used Bet365 prices to compare to. By the time you read this on Friday morning, it may have changed, but my mathematics teachers always used to say that you should show your working out, so here is mine. Hamsiyann has the best form in the book and is the most likely winner, but I have a nagging doubt caused by that time figure at Lyon La Soie, especially without the sectional time data and so I don’t make him an odds-on chance. I could make a case for Sharp Rise being a “value bet” at a double figure price. I know he will stay; I think he will improve on better ground and the early prices seem to have disregarded that Lion D’Angers form. However, I can’t be certain that he will improve and if he is dropped in at the start, as he was last time, there is always the risk that the race won’t be truly run, and he will have an almost impossible task to get on terms. I made him around 6/1 (14.29%) and the market makes him double that (7.69%). There is an edge there, but it is 6.6% and I think that I can get more value with Gallerist. He will stay and although it’s far from an exact science, he was 5s quicker than Hamsiyann over the same course and distance on the PSF. I think he should be more like 9/4 in the market (30.77%) and I do expect him to have a shorter SP, so if I can get the 5/1 (16.67%) then I’m getting 14.10% in my favour. Orion Rock could make all, but his head carriage and quirky nature would make me want a much bigger price before I consider that possibility and I don’t think the other 2 are good enough.
Hamsiyann could get the race run to suit and bolt up, in which case this will all look a bit foolish, but much like Silver Crack in yesterday’s piece, I think he is priced based more on his connections than his achievements and so I will take him on.