Today's feature card is at Saint-Cloud. Racing journalist Patrick Weaver, who is based in France, previews two races at the Paris track, as well as the meeting at Marseille...
"He is proven on heavy going, which can not be said of many in the race."
The 11-race card at the principle meeting at Saint-Cloud is trappy. The French have far more races for unraced two and three-year-olds than you find in England or Ireland and the 10:10, 11:10 and 11:40 are examples of that. The handicaps are also tricky, given the heavy ground.
French Classic entries
In the latter part of the card, there are some interesting races contested by French Guineas, Derby and Oaks entries.
The Prix Tourbillon over 10 and a half furlongs at 14:00 has attracted several promising colts with familiar colours that are not penalised for their victories.
The widest margin victory was achieved by the Aga Khan's Enzel. The only course winner in the line-up, the Derby entry won by 20 lengths on heavy ground. The horses he beat were rubbish, and the second is now running unsuccessfully in claimers.
Lord Achilles' maiden win at the Normandy track reads better, the runner-up winning next time out at Chantilly.
Baratin won a nursery on heavy at Longchamp. Green Spirit won an unexciting maiden on heavy at Deauville. L'Aigle and Koskov have won on degrees of soft going at provincial tracks.
Good form on the all-weather
Jaber Abdullah's Dawn Intello won a maiden on the all-weather at Deauville in November but the second, Shinasi, has since finished down the field in a maiden at Chantilly.
Sheikh Hamdan's Alfareeq has had two outings on the all-weather, also at Deauville. He improved sufficiently to win the second of his maidens and is likely to play a part in the finish today. Port Guillaume justified some hefty support when a winning favourite at Cagnes in January.
Go With The Wind has run twice at Lyon, but would seemingly prefer better going. Mare Australis won well enough at Munich for his owners to give the Paris circuit a shot.
Enzel, the mount of Christophe Soumillon, is an unoriginal pick, but he is proven on heavy going, which can not be said of that many in the race.
Placed in her last six races
The market leaders for the Prix Durban at 14:35 are Vienne and Anobar.
My selection, Vienne took four races to lose her maiden tag, beating Gemcutter three lengths at Compiegne on her final start as a two-year-old. First-time cheekpieces and the step up to nine furlongs from a mile brought about a huge improvement as Vienne had finished upsides Gemcutter at Longchamp the time before.
Anobar is the sort many will prefer to lay rather than back. She has been placed in her last six races, been a beaten favourite in four of them and has yet to win after nine starts.
Her form stands up to close scrutiny, though, and her latest third in Listed company over a mile here at Saint-Cloud was a career-best. She tries hard but has lacked the turn of foot to assert in her races to date.
The only other runner, besides Anobar, to have run this side of Christmas is Irska who sprang an 18/1 surprise when winning a Chantilly maiden for unraced fillies in March. She stuck her neck out well and her trainer should place her to win more races, as he has trained all her siblings, so knows the family well.
Her morning odds of 7/2 are about right. If I was a bookie I would not want to lay her at an each-way price.
The filly that beat Gelinka at Deauville, Ketil, was a previous winner, so Soumillon's mount should be there or thereabouts in this company.
On a fair mark following a career-best
Another Planet could gain his first win of the year in the 16:40 on the all-weather at Marseille. He has won two claimers since joining leading trainer Frederic Rossi and finished second to Park Of Diamond in a course-and-distance handicap just before lockdown on March 16.
He has been kept on the go the last eight weeks and has a 4lb pull for a length with the winner, so I am hopeful he can gain his revenge.
The Prix Blanche at 18:10 has attracted some decent fillies that are not quite Listed class.
Famiglia won here and at Lyon before finishing seventh in a Group Three at Deauville's summer meeting won by yesterday's winner, Tropbeau. That was a good effort in defeat, and this is a drop in class. At around 7/1 she rates a good each-way bet.
Did not like the heavy going
Lady Galore has better form but less scope. She clearly did not like the heavy going at Chantilly in March when seventh of 11 in a Listed sprint. Back in July she won a Listed race over five furlongs but today's race is over seven and a half. If she stays, she ought to win but marginal preference is for Famiglia.
The overnight favourite Healer is an unknown quantity. His recent short-head win at Deauville over today's niche trip was against other unraced three-year-old and hard to evaluate. He needs to improve if he is to win with his penalty, but the market says he will - he was backed from 4/1 to half those odds last night.
Andrew Hollinshead runs Get Set who has place claims on good efforts in Group and Listed races when with Matthieu Palussiere last year.