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Winners in Waiting

This is a short piece for the blog. I don’t want to get “bogged down” in trying to analyze every race being run in France and if you look hard enough at every horse running in a maiden you will eventually find a reason to be optimistic for their futures. We are a couple of weeks into the Turf season proper and we have had several impressive maiden winners, most notably from Andre Fabre, to get excited about. However, those horses are not likely to be missed in the market when they run next time as the social media hype around them means that they will be in the trackers of many punters and traders. You can never back a horse blind as it will always depend on the opposition that they meet next time but having watched through the action from Saint-Cloud and Lyon La Soie on Thursday, there were a couple of horses who ran very well in maiden company without winning and they both look to have shown more than enough ability to win a maiden in the coming weeks.

Prix Suave Dancer – 3YO Maiden – Saint-Cloud 23rd March – BARBATE (3rd)

The markets for this race were dominated by just 1 horse, Silver Crack. Jean-Claude Rougets Cracksman colt was well found in the market, and he duly delivered with an impressive 7-length victory. He looks bound for Group races on the back of his impressive debut, but because he was so visually pleasing, the form in behind him may well be overlooked and that will make BARBATE interesting on his next start. A son of Frankel, he has featured on this blog before (see related articles) and I had been waiting some considerable time to see him make his debut for Carlos Laffon-Parias. Although he didn’t ever look like winning, I would say that his connections were still delighted with his first start, especially the willing attitude and turn-of-foot that he showed in the closing stages to be a fast-finishing 3rd. Having settled in mid-division, he was asked for his effort as they turned for home and was forced to come wide in the straight to make his challenge. He had too much to do to get on terms with the easy winner, but he made good late headway under Augustin Madamet, running the final 2-furlongs in split times of 11.97 and 11.94s, 2nd only to the winner on the clock from the 400-metre pole to the line. With 10-furlongs likely to be a bare minimum distance for him, he must surely be worth watching next time. His Dam was a Group 2 winner and a half-sister to Recoletos and with such a pedigree, it is no surprise to see that he holds entries in both the Prix du Jockey Club and the Grand Prix de Paris. Whether he can live up to those entries remains to be seen, but this was a solid start to his career, and he ought to be able to get his head in front next time with natural improvement.

Prix Cerealiste – 3YO Maiden – Lyon La Soie 23rd March – SACRED SPIRIT (2nd)

Despite what I said in my introduction, I have included a horse trained by Andre Fabre, but the fact that this run took place on a quiet all-weather card at Lyon La Soie will probably mean that the form isn’t given as much attention as perhaps it should be. SACRED SPIRIT had disappointed on his debut when he finished 11th of 13 at Deauville in December, but he made a much better fist of things second time around. He can perhaps be considered slightly unlucky to still be a maiden as he could certainly be described as having “bumped into one” in the form of Hamsiyann at Lyon La Soie. Jean-Claude Rougets horse had run with great credit at Deauville and Chantilly and had finished less than 2-lengths behind the very talented Prince de Paname on his penultimate start. With a rating of 39.5, Hamsiyann deserved to be a short-priced favourite for this contest and ultimately proved too strong in the closing stages. Sacred Spirit made the running under Hugo Besnier, setting steady fractions before kicking for home as they rounded the final bend. Although he couldn’t repel the strong travelling Hamsiyann, who he was giving 1.5-kilos too thanks to Coralie Pacaut’s allowance, he kept trying and they pulled readily 6-lengths clear of the rest. I don’t want to create the impression that this form represents a potential group horse in waiting, because it doesn’t, but he has shown more than enough to suggest that he will break his maiden tag next time on this evidence.


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