There are two Grade 1 races at Auteuil today. Patrick Weaver picks out the best bets on the €1 million card...
"All Magic Dream's half-brothers have won, including Magic Saint which is rated 152. Magic Dream, himself, put in a good round of jumping when winning his first race over fences last month and looks an exciting prospect."
I am playing a straight bat with today's feature race. No messing about looking for alternatives to the favourite which should extend his unbeaten run.
The Prix Maurice Gillois at 14:50 is France's champion novice chase for four-year-olds - a race which David Cottin won twice as a jockey in the last 15 years. He first won it on Long Run in 2009 and then two years later on Halley for Tom George. He saddles three of the seven runners in his attempt to win it for the first time as a trainer.
Galleo Conti best bet to follow Le Berry home
Le Berry has won all his five starts over fences, the last three at Auteuil over the distance of this weekend's race. He beat the best chasers of his age last time in the Prix Orcada, drawing 10 lengths clear of Galleo Conti with stablemate General En Chef and King Edward eight lengths further back. Once Le Berry had seen off the challenge of Le Lude rounding the final bend he never saw another challenger.
The grey jumps superbly, gallops relentlessly and has a change of gear - everything you would want in a young chaser. He should win bar a fall.
I think we can write off Cottin's third runner as Resplendor started the year with five runs on the Flat - two of them on the all-weather. He won both the novice chases he contested in September, at Lyon Parilly and Compiegne, but lacks the jumping experience of his rivals and is likely to be run off his feet.
Magrudy would have a better chance of making the first three than Resplendor. He was getting 2lb when he failed to trouble Le Berry in the Grade 3 Prix La Perichole in July. You wouldn't give him a prayer against France's champion four-year-old chaser but he might make the frame.
Gardons Le Sourire is the only Grade 1 winner over fences in the field, but he beat nothing of note when scampering home by a length from Yeiayel in the Prix Ferdinand Dufaure over this trip at Compiegne in June. Using the close third, Nanosecond, as a guide he looks an also-ran as that filly has since been beaten 40 lengths by Le Berry.
All lines of form lead to Le Berry with Galleo Conti likely to follow him home, as he did last time. Galleo Conti each-way could be the answer.
Theleme a tentative tip for top juvenile hurdle contest
The Gr1 hurdle earlier on the card is the French three-year-old championship - the Prix Cambaceras at 13:00. The seven that line-up have won over €440,000 between them since May. Bizarre when you consider that there have only been a handful of juvenile hurdles at the likes of Hexham and Stratford since the new season started in June.
They start them young in France and the top-rated is Theleme. His owners have turned down several offers in excess of a quarter of a million euros since he beat Raffles Face, Hermes Baie, Magneto and Heros D'Ainay in the trial for this weekend's race.
Whereas the case for Le Berry for confirming the placings in the feature chase is cut and dried, that is not the case with Theleme. The five hurdlers finished in reverse order to expectations with Heros D'Ainay, Magneto and Hermes Baie the first three in the betting for the Prix Georges de Talhouet-Roy.
So can Theleme be relied on to go from last to first in the short straight again? Probably, would be my answer but they have all been beating each other. Baladin De Mesc, for example, has twice finished behind Magneto, yet gave Theleme 5lb and beat him before going down by half a length to Hermes Baie with Raffles Face, third, and Magneto, fourth.
I would go with Theleme, whose trainer Arnaud Chaille-Chaille has won the last two runnings, but not with a great deal of conviction. His odds of 5/4 are on the short side but he appears to be the one that is on the up.
Chenet can prove too hot for her rivals
The Gr2 for three-year-old fillies at 12:25 should go to Hotesse Du Chenet. She narrowly won the prep race for this weekend's contest from Astradame, with Fortunes Melody and Ha La Land. a way back. She had previously beaten Fortunes Melody, a winner twice at Auteuil, by 10 lengths.
Haie D'Honneur was 13 lengths off Fortunes Melody and Hotesse Du Chenet on her debut in September but then came out and beat Astradame six lengths - a far wider margin over the second than Hotesse Du Chenet's later in the month.
Starlet Du Mesnil gained her wins at Dieppe and Compiegne. One or two of those behind her in those races have won since, but I can't see why she is 9/2 this morning. I wouldn't have her at twice those odds.
I fancy the race will go to either Hotesse Du Chenet or Haie D'Honneur, though, with preference for Hotesse Du Chenet.
Magic Dream may stop Walkin doing the talking
Little did I realise when I saw Hawai Tree get off the mark at Rochefort-sur-Loire in a three-year-old maiden hurdle in August that she would win her next two and within three months contest a Grade 2 at Auteuil. There are not many smaller tracks than Rochefort with its four meetings on fast ground each summer.
After changing hands for six figures following her initial win, she joined leading trainer David Cottin and has gone on to win novice chases at Le Touquet and Compiegne.
She is dancing with the big boys, in the Prix Congress at 13:35, though, and will do well to trouble the market leaders I'm Walkin and Losange Vert. I'm Walkin came off best by six lengths in a Listed chase on his chasing debut and should confirm the placings despite Losange Vert being 4lb better off.
Hades is another to have beaten Losange Vert. Had he not been off the track 10 weeks he would have been my choice, such was his stylish win.
All Magic Dream's half-brothers have won, including Magic Saint which is rated 152 with Paul Nicholls. Magic Dream, himself, put in a good round of jumping when winning his first race over fences last month and looks an exciting prospect. He might be able to topple Im Walkin, and is an each-way price at 5/1.
Enjoy Your Life and Risk Du Brizais are provincial winners that are thrown in the deep end.
The opening Listed chase at 11:25 should go to the favourite, Lou Bucks. The other runner rated 162 Roxinela drops in grade but has to concede 12lb to Francois Nicolle's runner. At the weights, it is Lou Buck's race to lose.