French Racing Tips: It could be Lady's day at Longchamp

Longchamp races
Ocean Atlantique is fancied to take the first of the two Group Three races at Longchamp
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We are back at Longchamp for today's feature card. Racing journalist Patrick Weaver, who is based in France, previews the meeting as well as the two hurdles races at Angers...

"Given she was at the top of her game when we last saw her, she must have a big chance."

There are five hours of action from Longchamp today, which starts at 10:10, before the cameras move to Angers' mixed card at 15:40.

Typically, for France, the handicaps close the card at both tracks with the Listed and Group races upfront.

The first of the Group Threes is the Prix La Force for three-year-olds at 10:40. There is little to choose between Ocean Atlantique, Pao Alto, Mkfancy and Another Sky in the betting with just one point covering the four. The market has been the key to many of the week's races, so it would be best to watch for moves.

Overnight favourite

The overnight favourite, Ocean Atlantique, went off a short price for both his starts at Saint-Cloud, winning the second of them by eight lengths. He is unlikely to recover anything close to the €1,1million he cost Coolmore last May, but he ought to be good enough to win this with normal improvement from two to three.

Mkfancy made all to win the Group One Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud from the Coolmore-owned pair Arthur's Kingdom and Mythical last October. He was beaten a length in a Listed on his return, though, so may not be capable of reproducing last year's supreme effort.

The Prix Vanteaux for three-year-old fillies at 11.10 is seemingly not as open as the colts' race, with bookies going 7/1 bar two.

Changed yards

The favourite Emoji has won a maiden and a Listed, but Flighty Lady has been placed in two Group races over a mile here at Longchamp. She has changed yards and moved to former champion trainer Jean-Claude Rouget from Chantilly-based Irishman Gavin Hernon.

Bred to stay nine furlongs minimum, Flighty Lady is my idea of the best bet on the card.

Queen rates a good each-way bet at her morning price of 6/1 for the Prix Zarkava at 11.40. She has been placed each time she has raced at Longchamp and concluded last season with a close second to John Gosden's Fanny Logan in a Group Three at Newmarket.

Given she was at the top of her game when we last saw her, she must have a big chance in today's Listed contest.

Keen to win

The Aga Khan will be keen to win the race as it is named after his champion filly. That perhaps explains why his Dariyma is two points shorter than Bolleville who beat her four and a half lengths at Saint-Cloud on heavy when they were the first two home in a Listed race at Saint-Cloud last November. There were no obvious excuses for Dariyma, who started favourite, but she is likely to be in pole position in the market again.

Sujet Libre and Arapaho head the betting for the second of the Listed races, the Prix du Pont Neuf over seven furlongs at 12:10.

Sujet Libre's third to Kenway in a Group Three over course and distance is the best form in the book. If he can run to that level of form he should see off Arapaho who has run two sound races at Deauville since he was acquired by Coolmore after his debut success at Saint-Cloud last June.

The other six previous winners are decent enough, but need to improve to trouble the market leaders.

Mixed card

The first three races on the mixed card at Angers are over jumps. The opener at 15:40, and most interesting of the three, is a four-year-old hurdle in which leading trainer Francois Nicolle runs three.

His main jockey, Angelo Zuliani, is on High Ball, who raced off a UK-equivalent mark of 88 on the Flat last summer. Five of her eight races at up to 12 furlongs were on the Paris circuit and she was ridden by a top rider each time. She runs here rather than at Auteuil on Sunday and has a bit of class about her.

Her stablemates, Roxo Has and Babeth Jag are bred for hurdling and both have winning siblings. The form of Roxo Has' narrow defeat by Groom Boy at Moulins has worked out well, with the winner now competing in Listed and Grade Three novice chases. A one-two for the stable is very much on the cards.

Locally-trained Gracieuse Mag has the best form of the rest. The filly she beat 11 lengths at Nantes in November, Balkinoa, had won her previous race and went on to win her first start over fences at Cagnes-sur-Mer.

Gloire Au Pere must be showing a lot at home to be favourite, as his second at Nantes six months ago does not amount to much.

Expert placing

Nicolle has got to the top of the tree as a trainer because of his expert placing of his string and his runner in the Prix Angers Loire Metropole at 16.10 is an example of it.

Lady De Roche is the highest rated in the line-up, yet the conditions mean this recent course winner only has to give weight to half the field. The in-form mare has finished in the first five in 12 of her 13 races and is another that runs here rather than in stronger company at Auteuil at the weekend.

Donne Le Change won over course and distance last May. He reverts to hurdling, having won two of his last three chases.

Another to win over fences last time is He Loves Me, who picked up a conditions race at nearby Saumur at the beginning of March. He had contested five claiming hurdles in the south of France before that, winning just the once. He is one for the short list but would be getting nearly a stone from Lady De Roche in a handicap. Today they carry the same weight.

Valentin Rose appeals more each-way. He has run six times and finished in the money each time without winning. That is just the sort you want at a provincial track if you want a safety play. At some point he will win when a turn of foot is not required. In the meantime, you know he will give his best.

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Patrick Weaver,

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