R2 Prix De L’Amienois
There is a slightly disappointing turnout for this Class 2 contest with only 4-runners going to post, but we have had several middle-distance options for the 3-year-olds in recent weeks and that has perhaps limited the field sizes. This race is for 3-year-olds who have not won a Listed race since August 2022 and who have not placed in Pattern company or won another Class 2 this calendar year. There are no penalties to be carried and so the 4 Colts and Geldings will all carry 57-kilos.
The Most Exposed
We know most about SAADI. Trained by Henri-Alex Pantall, he has raced 6 times, winning a maiden and a Class 2 contest in November last year and he has amassed €56k in prize money so far. The form of his Angers win in November is fair, the fourth has won since and several of the other runners have hit the frame, but none of them, including Saadi, have run beyond a mark of 40-kilos and it will probably take that kind of effort to win this contest. He made the running on his latest start at Saint-Cloud when he was fourth to Elusive Princess. This is an easier assignment on paper but having had the run of the race in front, he checked out very quickly and whilst he will probably stay the extra distance, the run last time wasn’t inspiring. A son of Saxon Warrior, his Grand-Dam was a Group2 winner over 12-furlongs and there are plenty of pattern class middle distance types in this family, but he looks like he is stepping up in trip due to a lack of speed, rather than because he is crying out for a stamina test. The tacky ground won’t be an issue and there are plenty of opportunities for him to win races throughout the season, but I don’t think he is progressive, and he may find a couple of these who could improve past him.
The Least Exposed
We know least about ZILLOW. A son of Zoffany, he built on a promising debut at Toulouse by getting his head in front at Angers 3-weeks ago on his second start. The form of his debut has worked out reasonably well as both the second and fifth won on their next starts. At the 2-furlong pole, it would have been safe to assume that Zillow was the most likely winner, but he wasn’t able to quicken past the horses in front of him and he finished 4-lengths behind the winner Grimaud by the time they reached the line. It was a solid debut, and it was no surprise to see him win at Angers, but I don’t think he improved to do so. He has broken smartly on both occasions, and I expect him to be the pace angle here too, but having got to the front, he was able to dictate and had a much smoother run round than the placed horses in behind. The sectional times show that the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th were all faster than he was from the 3-furlong pole to the line. The fifth placed Sugertime did win on her next start at Argentan, but the limited evidence we have is that Zillow may lack a turn-of-foot. In such a small field, without an obvious reason to think the race will be strongly run, that could make him very vulnerable.
LOVE TOO has been supplemented for this race by the Montfort yard and on paper, he brings the strongest form into this race by some distance. He won on debut at Dieppe last July, getting the better of subsequent Group 3 winner Kubrick in a decent time and he backed up that effort with a pair of solid runs in Listed company, finishing 5th at Deauville in August and then 4th at Craon a month later. He wasn’t beaten far on either occasion and if he arrives in that form at Compiegne, he will be hard to beat. The problem is that he was absent from the Craon run until finishing last of 8 behind Valimi in the Prix Machado. Now Valimi is a very good horse who is bound for the Prix du Jockey Club, but the facts are that Love Too was never involved and looked like a horse who has had a few issues. He will obviously improve for the run and the fact that he has been supplemented for the race would suggest that connections feel that he has a decent chance, but it is very difficult to assess him after such a disappointing return. He is usually dropped in and in a small field that may simply be asking too much.
The Solid Option
In a small field it is hard to be confident about any horse, but if there is a runner in this race who is most likely to run his race, then it is ST JAMES PARK. He has raced exclusively at Saint-Cloud so far, winning a mile maiden there on deep ground in October. He returned at this level in March, when 1-length behind Don Diego De Vega, a horse who 4-lengths in front of Saadi in a Class 1 race next time. He then stepped up in trip when beaten a neck at Saint-Cloud in a Class 2, following the eventual winner through and just failing to get his head in front. He quickened nicely in the home straight, running closing sectionals of 12.08. 11.15 and 11.67, the fastest of any horse in the field and the ability to run at that speed makes him very interesting in this field, especially as the winner of that race, Karburan, was beaten less than 3-lengths in a Listed race at Paris Longchamp this weekend. He is a son of Pedro the Great out of a Kitten’s Joy mare, so it is no surprise to see that has some speed and although the ground is likely to be much more testing than it was at Saint-Cloud, he has already shown that he can handle the conditions in the autumn. Lots to like.
Rather optimistically, I was hoping that the strength of St James Park form would be overlooked slightly, and he might be 6/4 for this, but as you can see from the attached screenshot of the opening market form Bet 365, that isn’t the case. He is the most likely winner and the most likely to end up a group horse, but 4/7 is too short in a race that is more than likely to be tactical. I wouldn’t want to have a large stake at Compiegne under any circumstances as the track can have a real bias towards the stands rail when the ground is soft, and the jockeys can often waste a lot of energy trying to get across to that all important strip of ground. However, there is a small angle into this race in the forecast market. Saadi was so disappointing at Saint-Cloud that I wouldn’t be confident in him bouncing back, whereas Zillow had the run of the race at Angers and the sectional times showed that he was in the right place at the right time. For that reason, I will play a reverse forecast with St James Park and Love Too. I have made my case for the former and given the level of form shown by Love Too as a juvenile, I am prepared to write off his comeback run as a pipe opener and take a chance that he should be much closer to peak fitness now. The reverse forecast at the current prices would pay between £4.50 and £11 based on the 365 estimates and that looks worth a small punt.