Rhys Williams has analysed Monday's action and has two selections at Punchestown.
"However, his trainer is now having far better results than he was when Robin De Roost was last running under rules and the point to point form suggests he could have two stone in hand off this mark"
Very well handicapped on point form
Having had eighteen starts over fences under rules, Robin De Roost wouldn't usually be an obvious candidate for a potentially very well handicapped horse but his form since returning to action in the pointing field this month suggests he could make a mockery of his mark of 82.
In an Open at Dawstown, he raced a few lengths off the leading pair of A Rated and Marinero before being pushed along just before turning into the home straight. He soon closed on the leading pair and they jumped 2 out in a line before Robin De Roost gradually started to get on top and he pulled away on the run in to win by around five lengths (rather than the official three). A Rated had previously run fairly well in a Cork hunter chase while Marinero has since won two Opens, suggesting that Robin De Roost ran to a far better level? than an 82-rated horse.
He followed that up with another victory at Ballindenisk a couple of weeks later. Turning into the home straight, Er Dancer was the only danger and that rival just headed him at 2 out and appeared to be travelling better. However, Robin De Roost picked up well for driving and got back to the front at the last before going on to win quite comfortably by just over a couple of lengths. Er Dancer had finished fourth in a handicap off 116 two starts prior to this, once again suggesting this was a performance from Robin De Roost that was significantly better than his rating of 82.
He fell early on when running at the point to point track at Punchestown nine days ago and now returns to racing under rules off a lowly mark.
Some horses are just more suited to the steadier pace of pointing than racing under rules so there's always a chance that he won't repeat the ability he's shown in points back under rules and his jumping is a slight concern as he's shown a tendency to edge to the left at fences so a right-handed track may not be ideal for him.
However, his trainer is now having far better results than he was when Robin De Roost was last running under rules and the point to point form suggests he could have two stone in hand off this mark so any 9/4 or bigger appeals.
Looked promising when running in France
It's been 965 days since Francois last ran and after various country and stable switching he's now in the care of Mary Doyle.
His career started in France with Francois Rohaut and gradually progressed on the flat for him. He won a handicap at Saint Cloud on his fifth start and finished second two starts later in a very strong handicap over 1m4f at Vichy. The winner went on to win his next two starts including a Listed race. The third won a handicap next time and has since finished second in a Listed race. The fourth won a handicap next time and the fifth won three of his next four starts including two Listed races. Francois ran that day off the equivalent of a mark of 83 but the way that form worked out suggests he could have progressed further on the flat if continuing in that sphere.
However, he was switched to hurdling after and moved to Francois Nicolle. His only run, and victory, for Nicolle came in a hurdle at Lyon over 2m1f. His jumping was quite novicey early on but gradually improved through the race and he was in a leading group of seven leaving the back straight for the final time. That group of seven became three entering the home straight and he tracked the leading pair going to 2 out where Bai De Baie came down. Shaken along, Francois got upsides A Great News at the last but jumped it very awkwardly. However, he quickly recovered and went past that rival on the run-in with ease, going on to win by three lengths.
There are mixed signals from the form but Bai De Baie won next time before going on to be placed twice in Listed company and I expect it would have been close between him and Francois had he not fallen at 2 out. The French handicapper also gave the runner up a rating that's the equivalent of 126, so a rating of 116 could underestimate Francois's ability, particularly considering that his jumping was far from perfect on that occasion and he wasn't all out to win.
He was subsequently sold for €210,000 to race in America with the buyer saying that he goes on top of the ground and will suit American racing. However, he didn't run in America and was a NR on one occasion at Great Meadow. He was then part of the Jonathan Sheppard/Keri Brion team of horses that came to run in Ireland, with Brion saying that he wasn't suitable for racing in America because he wants soft ground and they hadn't had the chance to run him on that, a rather different take to the one from the agent when he was initially bought.
Francois didn't run for Brion during her time in Ireland but, given he was thought unsuitable to run in America, it's no surprise that he's remained in Ireland and is now being trained by Mary Doyle.
There is obviously a concern that he won't be as good as he was when running in France and if the ground dries out any further that may be an issue for him but given the potential he showed when running both on the flat and over hurdles in France, I can't let him go unbacked off 116 on his return to action and any 14/1 or bigger appeals.
RHYS' PROFIT/LOSS 2021
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