Device is among the best chasers ever to grace Bordeaux Le Bouscat.
A winner of over €1million - and four times the earnings of those that line up against him - the eight-year-old continues on his path back from injury in the Prix Jacques Delaye at 17.15.
Rated 165, he has run 27 times. This is his first start outside of Paris, and his first at his local track - Royan not being in use at the moment.
Device's first run since June 2018, at Auteuil this month, would have had Guillaume Macaire up before the stewards if the race had been held in England. His younger fitter well-backed stablemate, My Way, won the Prix Marechal Foch for amateur riders pretty much as he liked. Device was steadied after the start, dropped out the back and made eyecatching late headway to take fifth. His backers must have been fuming.
Hopefully, we will see the real deal this afternoon but the betting will tell us if he is off, or whether this is a second prep race for the Grand Steeplechase de Paris on June 7. He ought to be 1/3 but has been put in at 10/11 on our Sportsbook.
Zuliani key to Prix Mon Romain outcome
The Prix Mon Romain at 18:15 is a three-year-old maiden hurdle with penalties for place prize money won. Macaire's Saint Mano was runner-up to stablemate Law Of Attraction at Toulouse; Nicolle's Wantobewithyou was a 6/1 shot when 12 lengths behind his winning stablemate Magneto at Compiegne. Steven Colas keeps the mount on Saint Mano. Angelo Zuliani, who is the more experienced jockey of the two, takes over on Wantobewithyou.
Much as I would like to see Saint Mano win this, Zuliani's strength in the saddle will be critical should push come to shove. He is one of the reasons why his boss is the champion trainer and he finishes ahead of Colas on the few occasions they come up against each other.
Better Late than any of the others
Just one of the 14 runners in the 0-60 handicap at 19.15 over a mile has won in 2020. That is Late Comer who went off favourite when third in a similar race at nearby La Teste De Buch last week. Pre-lockdown, he had finished in the frame twice at Chantilly, having won off a 4lb lower rating at Pau in January with the same girl in the saddle as today.
Je Suis Charlie had an off-day when 9/1 for a stronger handicap at Saint-Cloud last week. His jockey, Tony Piccone, eased him when his chance was gone early in the straight and they finished last of 17. Ioritz Mendizabal takes over, which is interesting as he was on top when Je Suis Charlie won a handicap off a 3lb higher mark at Chantilly last year.
Aguas de Moura's recent efforts make grim reading. She has not finished in the first six in any of her handicaps since she won one at Deauville last August off an 8lb higher mark. Prost is on a losing run of 14 lasting over a year but has been dropped 17lb as a result.
Mathilde may not have things her own way
Eoghan O'Neill sends two to Moulins in the hope of picking up modest prizes.
He paid 48,000gns at the December sales for his runner in the 12:30, Princess Mathilde, despite her seeming to have lost her way.
In the space of 18 months she has gone from Alan King to Francis-Henri Graffard to Charlie Fellowes and now has her first run for O'Neill. She has got worse with each race and was beaten a long way at Doncaster and Kempton last autumn. Unless her trainer has found the key to her, she looks more of lay than a play against Kea and Porta Saragozza.
Kea showed willing when finishing second alongside subsequent winner Valeya at Chantilly in February. She was a bit lifeless on her return there in a €20,000 contest but this is a weaker race and she could worry the favourite out of it.
Porta Saragozza won a maiden handicap on her only previous visit to Moulins. The second won next time but the form has not worked out too well otherwise.
Lifkarita finished two and a half lengths ahead of Strike Bomber in a race at Strasbourg this month.
Now is the time for Le Croise-Laroche runner-up
O'Neill has supplemented King Siyouni for the maiden at 14:15 but he, too, looks vulnerable. His third at Tours was in a very poor race. He also lacked a turn of foot on his two visits to Lyon.
Now We Know split Hellenistique and Baden Rocks in what in hindsight was a strong maiden at Le Croise-Laroche. The winner won his next start at Angers and is rated 90. He has to be backed at 10/3 on the Sportbook.
The 12/1 shot Rubeus should find this less daunting than his all-weather maidens at Deauville and Chantilly last winter. An observation that also applies to Wladimir who has finished fifth in maidens at Lyon tracks either side of the lockdown.