Thursday afternoon's racing is at Clairefontaine and Lyon Parilly. Patrick Weaver, our man in France, previews both meetings...
"His owners must think he can cover the cost by finishing in the first five but, with regard to him being placed, the formbook says no."
The feature race at Clairefontaine, on the Normandy coast next to Deauville, is the Group 3 Prix du Palais Royale at 12:10. The biggest earner in the line-up is Stunning Spirit. He has been placed in this grade each of the last three seasons but has yet to win one. His big day came out in Qatar when he won an important race at Doha in February. He finished in midfield in a Group 3 at Chantilly last week, outperforming his odds of 20/1 without suggesting he can win this.
Spinning Memories has won her last three Listeds and a Group 3 at Deauville from English runners, Stake Acclaim, Poetry and Key Stroke, with Tertius in the mix. A winning favourite at Longchamp the day racing resumed, she has a fitness edge over many of her rivals. She really ought to win this - and is my selection - but she does have her off-days.
Freddy Head has had two winners that have scrambled home in tight finishes this month, but a lean time otherwise. Devil was his first runner back and finished last of eight over a mile. Looking at his form in Group races over six furlongs at Maisons-Laffitte last autumn, he should be in the shake-up if he gets the extra furlong in his first race over seven. The owners, trainer and jockey won this in 2018 with a three-year-old, Polydream.
Milord's Song was supplemented at significant cost on Monday. His owners must think he can cover the cost by finishing in the first five but, with regard to him being placed, the formbook says no.
Champion trainer in Fabre form
It took a while for Andre Fabre's stable to click but it did over the weekend. Five of his eight runners on Sunday and Monday won. The Prix du Pont au Change at 12:50 could go to the master trainer, too, with Midnight Shine.
You need to forgive him a shocker at Compiegne on his return in March with apprentice Jules Mobian on top, but on his two-year-old form he has a good chance at the weights.
Urwald won his first start as a two-year-old at Saint-Cloud. His second victory came in Listed company at Longchamp last spring. Fabre put him in some tough Group races after that and he was found wanting, causing the owners to move him to Jean-Claude Rouget. This race is a definite drop in class for the four-year-old and he is one to consider.
Rouget may have gained Urwald but he lost Tonnencourt to Edouard Monfort towards the end of last year. The four-year-old has been a nice little earner for his owner, winning two of his eight races and finishing in the money in the other six. Rated 100+, like Midnight Shine and Urwald, he should be in the first three home.
Alba Power is worth a mention, if only because he won first time out in 2018 and 2019. The rest have a near-impossible task, among them Rimini, a winner twice in his first season in 2017 that has been placed in the odd handicap but has not made the winner's enclosure since.
Nicolle favourite Has a winning opportunity
Francois Nicolle has sent two down to contest the only chase of the day at Lyon Parilly, the Prix du Mont Saint-Rigaud for four-year-olds at 16:20.
Roxo Has and Wakisashi One are both rated 127 over hurdles so there should not be much between them. Preference has to be for the former as the stable jockey Angelo Zuliani takes over from the yard's No2 Theo Chevillard, who is on Wakisashi One.
Purple Light is likely to struggle against Nicolle's pair but he is the one to be on each-way. He has won four claimers - three on the Flat and one over hurdles at Fontainebleau in February. He is limited and lacks a turn of foot, but if he takes to fences on his chasing debut he could make a race of it for third with Korum.
Ash to explode on the scene
A couple of conditions races later on the Lyon card are worth a look.
Ashtara has come down from Chantilly to contest the Prix de l'Anniversaire at 16:50. She was a close fifth in a Group 3 at her local track last June. The first four home - Suphala, Romanciere, Imperial Charm and Matematica - are all rated 100+, so Ashtara will have disappointed her connections by failing to improve.
Her second to Think Of Me at Fontainebleau in March shows she had trained on, though, and I would not want to lay her.
Qamka won two of her four starts for Roger Varian, both over a mile. She would be my tip over that trip but he never ran her over 11 furlongs, so her stamina has to be taken on trust.
Chevalier Cathare was consistent all last year. He was first past the post on his final start at Chantilly only to be disqualified as he was later found to have an unacceptable medication in his system.
The Prix Top Way at 17:20. should go to Gelinka who finished on the hooves of the first four when 13/1 for the Prix Durban two weeks ago at Saint-Cloud. That was as good as could be expected as she is not in their class. She has a 9lb claimer on top, rather than Messrs Soumillon and Barzalona who have been getting the best out of her, but this is such a weak race she really ought to win it.
Woot City finished three lengths ahead of Adelphie and Poet's Black when they met here soon after racing returned this month. Back in March, Poet's Black was the same distance clear of Woot City. Take Gelinka out and it is that sort of race. Anything could finish runner-up other than Alize de Vassy whose form is basement level.
Back Spinning Memories to Win in the 12.10 at Clairefontaine at 6/4
Back Midnight Shine Each-WAy in the 12.50 at Clairefontaine at 6/1
Back Roxo Has to Win in the 16:20 at Lyon Parilly at 6/4
Back Ashtara to Win in the 16:50 at Lyon Parilly at 3/1
Back Gelinka to Win in the 17:20 at Lyon Parilly at 11/10