There is something for everyone at Strasbourg this Wednesday with a mixed card that gets underway at 10:50 UK time. Situated in the east of France, close to the German border, this tight right-handed track always offers competitive racing, but definitely requires a well balanced horse as the sharp bends can catch out the less gracious types. With the Chase track situated on the inside of the oval, this is especially true over obstacles.
We start with a Cross-Country chase over 3 miles 2 furlongs. The Cross-Country track runs through the middle of the course and with several tight bends and changes of direction some horses struggle to handle it. FAYAS would look to set the standard, Patrice Quinton's 10-year-old arrives here with the strongest recent form, having finished a 4-length 3rd last month over course and distance. He has run with credit throughout 2021, competing in most of the key cross-country races at Pau in the winter.
However, with a career record of 1 win from 15 starts over fences, he isn't a certainty by any means and at likely cramped odds I would be keen to take him on, especially as he has to give weight away to younger rivals with potentially more improvement in them. There are 2 that I like, FIRST FOAL and in particular KHALMARIN. First Foal, from the Emmanuel Clayeux yard, is an improving 6-year-old and has taken well to the Cross-Country discipline, winning at Lignieres in March. He steps up in distance for the first time and should be involved in the latter stages if he stays the trip, but KHALMARIN interests me most of all. He comes out best off at the weights and arrives here after two solid 2nd place efforts at Nancy over this trip. With his riders claim, he receives 5 kilos from Fayas and that should easily be enough to get him involved.
Race 2 is a claimer for the 3-year-olds over just shy of 7-furlongs. In truth, this is a pretty weak race and it is very hard to make a case for the majority of the field. GOOD FRIEND is the exception to that rule. He is one of only two horses in this field to have actually won a race, winning a 7-furlong maiden at Sennones-Pouance in April, If anything, he improved on that effort when he finished 2nd in this grade at Fontainebleau over an inadequate 5-furlongs, where he chased home Noelle who is a sprint specialist. Drawn well in stall 3, he should get a nice tow into the race from My Classy Lassy in stall 2, who runs in first-time blinkers and will no doubt blast off from the front as most of these connections horses do. The most likely dangers to Good Friend are drawn wider, Murrayfield in stall 9 and the Spanish raider, Sport Dream, drawn in 5. Both have bits and pieces of form that would suggest they can be competitive at this low level, but their overall profiles and recent form do not suggest they will have the speed to get involved at this trip. In truth, it will be a huge surprise if Good Friend doesn't win this, though he is likely to be a relatively short price to do so.
My final pick on the card is CRACK MATH in race 3. This is a handicap chase for the older horses over 2-miles 4-furlongs. This 9-year-old is a course regular and actually finished 2nd in this race in 2019.. He has run with great credit on both his starts this term, finishing 2nd over course and distance in March before coming 3rd in a hot race at Nancy in April. The winner of that race, Calotin, has won its last 3 starts and the 2nd, Nabuco Has, won a valuable chase at Auteuil last weekend, which makes it the strongest piece of form on offer.
Through a couple of recent form lines, Crack Math would look to hold the likes of Tite Goul and Cutting King in this field, whilst his apprentice rider, Etienne Capdet is good value for his claim and has a record of 1 win and 3 places from his 7 rides at the track. Everything points to a big run from Crack Math and it will be a big surprise if he isn't involved in the finish.
10:50 Khalmarin - 0.5 Point WIN
11:20 Good Friend - 2 Point WIN
11:50 Crack Math - 1 Point WIN