Horse Racing Tips

French Racing Tips: Bank on Hermes making a splash

Klassical Dream in action
Willie Mullins' Klassical Dream, red and yellow hoops, is favourite for the French Champion Hurdle

"No horse aged 9 or 10 has won in the last 50 years, so Rachael Blackmore has a mountain to climb on Kemboy, as has Danny Mullins on Tornado Flyer."

Patrick Weaver picks out the best bets on Auteuil's Champion Hurdle card on Saturday afternoon...

I'm not one for following trends, as I am more interested in the times horses have recorded in their most recent races.

But when it comes to the French Champion Hurdle at 16:00, one fact jumped off the page of past winners.

The five from the home team that won the Grande Course de Haies d'Auteuil in the last decade were all aged five or six, while the three trained in England were six and seven, and Mullins' two successes were with eight-year-olds.

L'Autonomie can be opposed

Many will fancy last year's winner L'Autonomie to win again. She has won over €1.2m in prizemoney and six of her last eight races. However, she is now seven, and no French-trained runner that age has won in the last 10 years.

Last time out in a Grade 2 trial for today's race, L'Autonomie was beaten four lengths and a nose by the five-year-olds Hermes Baie and Theleme. Not surprisingly both take her on again despite being 4lb worse off.

That was the first time since October that Hermes Baie had finished in front of Theleme, so on the balance of form you would have to fancy Theleme. I was massively impressed with Hermes Baie in last month's Prix Leon Rambaud, though, so he gets the nod.

How will the Mullins trio of Klassical Dream 32/1, Kemboy 1312/1 and Tornado Flyer 1312/1 fare?

There are four good reasons to favour the former.

He is ridden by the stable jockey, Paul Townend.
He's the only one in form, having won the Champion Stayers' Hurdle at Punchestown.
He's the same age as Mullins' previous winners of the race, whereas Tornado Flyer is nine and Kemboy 10.
His hurdle rating is 163 while Tornado Flyer's is 143 and Kemboy's 142.

It should be pointed out that Kemboy and Tornado Flyer are Grade 1 chasers with ratings over fences equal to or higher than Klassical Dream's 163, but we are not talking about a chase this afternoon.

No horse aged 9 or 10 has won in the last 50 years, so Rachael Blackmore has a mountain to climb on Kemboy, as has Danny Mullins on Tornado Flyer.

My short list is Hermes Baie, Theleme and Klassical Dream.

No denying Instit has race conditions in her favour

Willie Mullins runs Instit in the Prix d'Arles, a Listed race for fillies and mares at 14:50. A winner at Pau before she moved to Mullins, Instit has since won a Limerick maiden and run second to Gordon Elliott's Party Central at Punchestown.

It's a typically clever entry by Mullins as Instit does not have a penalty for her win last December. Prize money being what it is in France, Hostesse Du Chenet and Matilda Du Berlais have won €390,000 between them and are penalised 9lb.

Hostesse Du Chenet did well to beat Madame Moonie on her return from over a year off but she is 6lb worse in with the runner-up.

Matilda Du Berlais is classy but has been beaten at very short odds four times in the 12 months since winning over this weekend 12 months ago.

At the odds I suggest a little on Madame Moonie each-way at 98/1, though there is no denying Instit 2.757/4 is a worthy favourite.

Prix Sagan is Just a race to watch

The Prix Sagan at 13:33 is a Grade 3 hurdle for three-year-old fillies worth €120,000.

Not many trainers have their youngsters ready as early as mid-May, but David Cottin ran three last year and two fought out the finish - La Boetie and Matilda Du Berlais - eight lengths clear of the third.

Matilda Du Berlais had beaten La Boetie 10 lengths in their previous race, the Prix d'Iena.

Cottin again has three runners, all of which made their hurdling debuts in the Prix Wild Monarch - Just A Star was second, Angela Du Berlais was 15 lengths back in fourth and Just A Princes fell at the final hurdle when alongside Just A Star.

Just A Star and Just A Princess were around the 6/1 mark, Angela Du Berlais was 18/1.

Looking beyond the Cottin runners, Dixon Cove finished a length ahead of Villa Rica last month but Rose Secrete was even further clear of Villa Rica on the latter's next start.

I'll go with Just A Princess each-way, but with all runners wearing L plates it's a race best watched.

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