Situated on the Emerald Coast in north-western France, Saint-Malo plays host to a mixed card on Wednesday evening. This Flat right-handed circuit can be a real speed test and plays host to both Flat and Jumps racing, as well as having a trotting circuit on the inside. With 3 hurdle races followed by 5 races on the Flat, there is something for everyone to get excited by.
We begin at 3:20 UK time with a handicap hurdle for the 4-year-olds. Vernon Subutex is a solid starting point. Ridden by James Reveley, who is having an incredible 2021, he is likely to be popular off an attractive looking hurdles mark. Having won twice at Cagnes-Sur-Mer over the winter, he is likely to strip much fitter than for his return from a 5 month absence when he was pulled up in a handicap hurdle at Auteuil in June. Whilst he has the ability to win a race like this, I can’t help but think he is better suited by the deep ground at Cagnes-Sur-Mer in the winter (all of his best form has come there) and on better ground at a speed track like Saint-Malo he could well prove vulnerable.
Honesta for the Windrif team is another to note. She has been running consistently and has placed on her last 2 starts at Dieppe, though a career record of 10-0-6 is hardly inspiring for win purposes. Hermine Mag broke her maiden tag at the 6th attempt when winning on her last start at Vitre in June, though the form is questionable in the context of this race.
Having looked in detail at the runners, I think this race comes down to 2 horses, Cquilepatron and Golden Dawn. Cquilepatron represents the extremely shrewd team of Mickael Seror and James Finch. Having been claimed when 2nd at Dieppe in June, he ran well for a long way on his debut for his new connections at Aix-les-Bains 2 weeks ago and eventually finished 3rd to Alicaron, beaten 7-lengths. That was definitely a step in the right direction and with his riders 2-kilo claim he gets in here with a featherweight to carry and needs to be respected. However, a career record of 0-10 over obstacles would put me off slightly and in Golden Dawn, I think he meets a very talented rival.
Trained by Francois Nicolle, this daughter of Doctor Dino comes from a good National Hunt family and is very unexposed after just 5 starts. Having won a 3-year-old chase at Nimes in November, she returned from an absence to finish 3rd in a decent handicap hurdle at Dax on 11th July, beaten less than 3 lengths. The time of the race was certainly above average and with the benefit of that run under her belt, she should be spot on for this. Lucas Zuliani is able to claim 2-kilos, which leaves her well treated when compared to the official ratings and I think she is likely to have more speed than the majority of these runners, especially on the forecast better ground. In time, she is likely to go back over fences and will be competing at a much higher level than this, so really ought to have too much class for this field.
Race 3 is a hurdle for the 3-year-olds. Normally, I would be all over a race like this, but this looks a very tricky contest. All 4 of the runners with experience have achieved absolutely nothing on their runs to date so any market confidence behind either of the newcomers, Amont (Leenders) or Northern Devil (Mescam) would be worthy of serious consideration. However, on the form we have to go on so far, its not a race that I would want to be involved in.
Race 7 is a Claimer for the 3-year-olds over 12-furlongs and this looks to be a fantastic opportunity for Springboks to get back to winning ways. Having won a maiden at Cagnes-Sur-Mer in January, he has been highly tried since then and has run with credit in much better contests than this. Although held by Illustre Bere on their run in a claimer at Angers in May, it is best to put a line through that as he was denied a clear run in the home straight and would certainly have finished in front of Illustre Bere with a clearer passage. Last seen finishing 6th in the Class 1 Derby de L’Ouest at Nantes, this is a significant drop in grade. He made the running that day on very soft ground, which given his low action was never going to suit. Although he did finish last of the 6, he ran well for a long way before being allowed to make his own way home once his chance had gone. The return to a sounder surface should suit and it will be surprise if he isn’t too classy for his rivals here.
The Saint-Malo card finishes with a Class 3 contest over 12-furlongs for the 4 year olds. This isn’t the deepest contest and in truth there looks to be a lot of “deadwood” we can put a line through. I think it is best to focus on 3 of the 8 runners, Pjedro, Afterglow and Attendante. Pjedro comes from the Leenders team and has a perfect record to defend, having won on debut at Cluny on 3rd July. He made good late headway from the rear to pounce in the home straight on that occasion and given the way he ran through the line, the step up in trip should definitely suit this son of Alderflug. Connections have chosen to supplement him for this race and that may be seen as a tip in itself. However, I can’t ignore the fact that he hasn’t made his debut until his 4-year-old season and he was definitely suited by being held up away from the strong pace at Cluny. The 3rd in that maiden, Assimina, also reopposes here, but she has been well beaten at Argentan in the meantime and I think that the level of form Pjedro has achieved will not be sufficient against more experienced rivals here, even with his jockeys claim.
Afterglow is likely to be very popular. It is unusual to see Godolphin persist with a horse that has shown limited ability, though she is well bred. A 3-year-old maiden winner for John Oxx in July 2020, she hasn’t really improved in her 3 starts since switching to France and has looked very one paced. This is the easiest contest she has encountered so far, but the same could have been said on her last start at Les Sables and she failed to get her head in front in spite of having the run of the race.
Attendante stands out for me in this contest. Francis-Henri Graffards daughter of War Command won twice as a 3-year-old on better ground and brings some solid recent form to the table. She finished 2nd to the unexposed and talented German raider, Saint Laurent at Aix-les-Bains 3 weeks ago, challenging wider than the winner, they pulled clear of the 3rd and produced the best time figure of the day in the process. Officially the highest rated in this field, she is well treated at the weights in this race and should have too much for them when the pace quickens.