French Racing Tips: Hermes has a touch of class

Auteuil stages the final Grade 1 of the year this weekend
The four-year-old hurdle championship is the highlight on Sunday's Auteuil card

Auteuil stages the final Grade 1 of the year on Sunday. Patrick Weaver previews the race which features the best four-year-old hurdlers in France...

"Starlet Du Mesnil rates the best bet on the card in receipt of 6lb from Gironde and 10lb from Want Of A Nail."

All eyes will no doubt be on Cheltenham but between races, there are two Graded events in Paris worth watching on SkySportsRacing.

The Prix Renaud du Vivier at 13:33 has been won by the favourite - and by champion trainer Francois Nicolle - three of the last four years. And it is easy to see why.

The logical step for a four-year-old hurdler is to contest the prep race, which is the Prix Pierre du Lassus four weeks beforehand. Five of the six runners on Sunday did exactly that with Hermes Baie and Theleme fighting out the finish over 10 lengths clear of Martator, Colbert Du Berlais, and Hurrick Des Obeaux.

The first two home were 11/10 fav and 11/5, reflecting their CVs going into the race. The other three were 18/1, 8/1 and 21/1 respectively on the PMU.

L'Autonomie, Master Dino and De Bon Coeur were all odds-on winners of the Renaud de Vivier having won the Lassus. Last year's winner Moises Has turned the tables on James Du Berlais which had beaten him five lengths in the Lassus the month before.

So you would expect the finish of Sunday's Grade 1 to concern Hermes Baie and Theleme, who had penalties in the Lassus that they don't have this weekend.

Hermes Baie has won his last five. Theleme hasn't won for a year. It's Hermes Baie for me.

Starlet suited by Prix Sytaj race conditions

The Grade 3 Prix Sytaj at 15:25 is a cracker with six runners at the peak of their form and one, Risk D'Aaimer that has won her last three chases but fell over hurdles last time out.

Want Of A Nail has never fallen and has finished in the first three in 17 of her 20 starts. She has won her last two races, as has Gironde, a winner here and at Moulins.

Starlet Du Mesnil is another winner of her last two, her Compiegne success coming in a Listed chase from two that were at the top of their game, Placenet and Hermes De Mee.

Risk d'Aimer's wins at Gemozac, La Roche Posay and Lyon Parilly don't amount to much. So little, in fact, that she doesn't have a penalty. She carries the basic weight that the maiden chasers Lolly Flight, Hacienda and Neli Has have.

Starlet Du Mesnil rates the best bet on the card in receipt of 6lb from Gironde and 10lb from Want Of A Nail.

Reveley can rev Gex up for first chase success

The opening novice chase - the Prix Metatero at 11:20 - could go to either one of the two market leaders.

Gex, the classiest hurdler in the line-up, was brought down at the water jump when odds-on for his only chase. Saint Chely won his only start on the Flat and has not lived up to expectations over hurdles or fences.

The race is best left to Gex and James Reveley who, I'd imagine, will keep his mount out of trouble and use his turn of foot to go clear in the straight.

The Prix Barcelonnette at 12:23 is as hum-drum a claimer as Auteuil has staged this year.

Historiette is the only recent winner of a non-claimer, but the quality of horses she was up against at Guingamp where she won in September was mediocre. She was runner-up to Happy Joy in a claimer here at Auteuil after that but didn't attract an offer.

Una Grande Storia and Prince Vert have each won their last two claimers, and the winner is likely to come from this pair.

As Prince Vert is having his first race over these tough fences, having won at Nort-Sur-Erdre and Landivisiau, I would sooner opt for Una Grande Storia who was bought back by her owners after winning an Auteuil claimer by 12 lengths in the summer, and one at Dieppe on her next start.

She has been hopelessly outclassed on her subsequent starts, but this return to claiming company should see her back in the winner's enclosure.

Giorgina finished seven lengths ahead of Aedesia when the pair were second and fourth in a claimer at Fontainebleau last month. Giorgina's record in claimers is 312, Aedesia's is 324 so it is hard to make a case for the latter.

I can pass on a tip for Baronne Du Berlais in the Prix Le Parisien at 14:15.

She has improved with each race - all of them here at Auteuil - and a mark of 59 (130 in England) looks fair for her handicap debut. There are 16 runners, so there are four places on the Sportsbook.

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