Auteuil, 28/4/18

Nine races on the card, including a couple of Grade 2s and a couple of Grade 3s, totting up to E916,000 of prize money. As far as the Parisians are concerned this is just a bog standard meeting for the purists - half price entry compared to the main Saturday events. Even that was E5, so hopefully the proper jumping people are not funding the Longchamp rebuild. The plan was to head down to Questembert for the next day to get in a proper numpty meeting (four chases, four trots) devoid of politics, but it was foiled by the SNCF strike and cancelled services. UK-Jumping has been well served by the French railways in the past but getting the money back for this booking is proving to be a Kafkaesque nightmare. Fortunately the Auteuil sport was much easier to handle

Going: Very Soft

Race 1: Prix Oiseleur 4 year olds Claiming Chase [2m 1.5f]

1: Eniocanto     2: Tribalion     3: Jarnac De Ray

Winner owned: D Beaunez, trained: Butel & Beaunez, ridden: Jerome Claudic

The minor event on the card was scheduled so only those of use arriving unfashionably early got to see it. The less commonly sighted (on this field at least) training team of Butel and Beaunez fielded two horses, who happened to be the two paddock picks, and saw them post a 1-2, with Eniocanto (a hurdle winner at Hyeres) just marginally outpointing Tribalion, who had never won and perhaps the lack of a habit was apprent here. Tribalion had been second before in a claiming chase here, and he did get the better of Jarnac De Ray, fourth in another claimer here, but is a slightly built horse without the substance of his opponents. Eniocanto tended to jump right, and when the race got serious he seemed a touch slow to respond to pressure, but he was in a claiming chase, so expecting blazing brilliance would be entirely unreasonable.
A man tries to make the runners for the first go to the starting line, but some suspicious young horses, perhaps amazed by the Parisien grandeur, have other ideas. Front to back they are Solemare, Tribalion, Eniocanto, Socha (with Zarisk using him for cover) and Jarnac De Ray

Race 2: Prix Go Ahead Juvenile Hurdle [1m 7f]

1: Pic D'Orhy     2: Goliath Du Berlais     3: Festivalier

WInner owned: P Detre & J Detre, trained: Francois Nicolle, ridden: Thomas Gueguen

A whole bunch of these had run against each other in two juvenile hurdles at Auteuil already this spring. Pic D'Orhy had been a winner on his racing debut and the pair that chased him home, Goliath Du Berlais and Blue Silver, had repeated their positions since. They could not all repeat past finishes as Festivalier had been third in different race and the one that was disappointingly squeezed out, down to seventh, was Blue SIlver. Pic D'Orhy won impressively, being as low down as fifth at the final hurdle but dashing clear on the run-in for what was a commanding seven lengths victory.

Ones to note if seen in Britain: Pic D'Orhy

Race 3: Prix Amadou, Grade 2 4 year old Hurdle [2m 3.5f]

1: Tunis     2: Master Dino     3: Energy D'Olivate

Winner owned: Pierre Goral, AS & D Allard, trained: Guillaume Macaire, ridden: Kevin Nabet

When Tunis was last seen on this site, his talents were acknowledged, but a feeble joke was made that his Polish breeding is a nightmare for geography teachers who are trying to convince impressionable kids that Tunis is definitely not in Poland. Since then he has been plying his trade in all sorts of Graded company, including Grade 3 success, and agonising defeats in Grades 2 and 1. This tidy success ticked off the lower of those two levels and another shot at the top tier is surely on the cards. He hs been beaten favourite five times though. Master Dino is a regular opponent of Tunis and when they meet, the pair usually finish first and second. Signs so far is that Dino was the master at the three year old stage but Tunis has poleaxed him for 2018. Energy D'Olivate was winless in six races last season, closing the year with a fall on stable/hurdling debut. This year he had won a flat race at Saint CLoud and a non-pattern race here, and although only third, his margin of defeat was under three lengths and counts as a competent attempt at the higher standard of racing.

Ones to note if seen in Britain: Tunis, Energy D'Olivate
Appealing grey Tunis (1) is ready to get on with the job, but Energy D'Olivate demands an early lead. The next trio are Shekidame, Tertre and Master Dino (giving his nemesis Tunis a wide berth) and Ermontois adopts a cautious approach.

Race 4: Grande Course de Haies de Printemps, Grade 3 Handicap Hurdle [2m 5.5f]

1: Farlow Des Mottes     2: Aragorn D'Alalia     3: Crystal Beach     4: Rasango

Winner owned: JM Lapoujade, trained: Francois Nicolle, ridden: Steven Colas

Previously we have had cause to report on the Big Hurdle Race in the Summer and the Big Hurdle Race of Autumn, so in order to complete the set, it was necessary to drag in the BIg Hurdle Race of Spring, but this is a grade or two below the others so should be the Almost As Big Hurdle Race of Spring. Researching a sixteen runner handicap was far too tiring for a non-elite (or even non-mediocre) French speaker, so the race was there to enjoyed for what it was - which was another yard managing to field two runners, with the less fancied of the two Farlow Des Mottes prevailing by the narrowest of whiskers. The yard's third contender was way back in eleventh. The two riders on the first pair home were in conversation as soon as they past the post - some taunting going on, or trying to decide who actually won. From a bad angle it looked as if Aragorn D'Alalia (named by someone mixing their Tolkein and Frank Herbert references?) was not nearly as close as the official margin. The paddock picks were Rasango (solid race to be fourth) and Kami Kaze, whose contribution was far more disappointing. The Interesting effort was by Ultranet, who had bottom weight. Going well at the end of the back straight, he lost four places early in the home run, only to get going and nick a couple back.
Thomas Gueguen on Aragorn D'Alalia (grey) consults Steven Colas on what he believes the outcome may be. Third placed Crystal Beach shows his frustration at a good effort failing to break the 1-2 stranglehold.

Race 5: Prix Wild Monarch, Listed Juvenile Hurdle [1m 7f]

1: Fiumicino     2: Last Sparkler     3: Bel Apsis

Winner owned: Ecurie Pierre Pilarski, trained: Guillaume Macaire, ridden: Kevin Nabet

Fifteen ran in this E60,000 race restricted to horses with no jumps experience and only three had raced on the flat, so it was a total guessing game. It was quite strange, as three yards fielded eleven of the horses - five for Gallorini, three each for Macaire and Cherel, and of whom stoically resisted calls for punting advice by local nutters. Can you imagine a race in Britain where Messrs Henderson, Nicholls and one other yard (Alan King given that it was a juvenile hurdle) field so many runners between them? In the paddock Guillaume Macaire instructed Kevin Nabet to remove his silks and give them a good shoeing. Presumably this is the multinational belief that new silks cannot be worn, they must have a lived in look. Normally this is done in the weighing room, but the trainer was clearly not satisfied. Of course this is pure superstititon with no effect whatsoever, but if it gave the rider confidence to make a good tactical decision a split second earlier, then in a race won by a head, the mistreatment of the kit could have been the difference between first and second for Fiumicino. Of course, if Kevin Nabet really believed in the tradition, he would have done it properly first time round. With a flat win to his name in his only appearance, Golden Dario might have been expected to head the betting, but it was newcomer Red Risk (eventually seventh) who got that irrelevant honour. The ones that caught the eye before the race were Red Risk, Rose Sea Has and Last Sparkler, who finished very strongly and presumably got the hang of the job as the race progressed.

Ones to note if seen in Britain: Fiumicino, Last Sparkler

Race 6: Prix Jean Stern, Grade 2 Chase for 4 year olds [2m 6f]

1: Whetstone     2: Spanish One     3: Cote De Grace

Winner owned: Madame M Bryant, trained: Guillaume Macaire, ridden: Bertrand Lestrade

Whetstone came into this on a winning streak of seven, four hurdles followed by three chases and at odds of 30/100, she comfortably took it on to eight. Three Grade 3 wins were included, this one now goes up to Grade 2. The Whetstone tactics were to lead at the third, control a steady pace and sprint clear from the last. She is not the biggest of chasers and if someone waves a chequebook for her, there is a suspicion that the more aggressive tactics seen in many British races would not work to her favour. However, someone wishing to sweep up an array of mares only races culd make it work. Spanish One unsportingly stole second place from Cote De Grace right on the winning line.

Race 7: Prix des Charentes, 4 & 5 year old fillies & mares Hurdle [2m 2f]

1: Ejland     2: Kapetienne     3: En Bonne Main

Winner owned: J Detre, trained: D Sourdeau De Beauregard, ridden: Thomas Beaurain

The only note made about Ejland was "led last." Nothing about paddock appearance, nothing in running, other than a track of the order at a couple of waypoints which suggest she was prominent most of the way. The worst enemy is one that goes unnoticed until it is too late, so Ejland can be a very dangerous foe if she continues to mosey round unconsidered whilst being tactically very threatening. Kapetienne at least was identified as looking very well before the race and being a bad drifter in the betting after she opened as more or less the favourite. The interesting one was outsider La Limagne, who was just about in touch when she blundered and/or stumbled two out. That ended her hopes but after getting her composure back she stayed on again and the one incident probably cost her a place. The one that looked to have a lot of potential improvement in her was En Bonne Main, a four year old who had meandered around the provinces a bit but has now been placed in both her runs at Auteuil.

Ones to note if seen in Britain: En Bonne Main

Race 8: Prix Ingre, Grade 3 Chase [2m 6f]

1: Edward D'Argent     2: On The Go     3: Milord Thomas

Winner owned: Simon Munir & Isaac Souede, trained: Guillaume Macaire, ridden: Kevin Nabet

Edward D'Argent finished fourth at Auteuil on his racing debut just over two years ago. Since then he has had fourteen more tries, winning eleven and Finishing secind in the other three. He habitually runs in the same races as On The Go, who did come out on top in the Grade 1 four year olds' chase here in November, but is in the habit of regarding the backside of his stablemate. The margin for Edward D'Argent was only a length and a half, which is about par for his defeats of On The Go, but came with something in hand. Despite the winner's outstanding record, MIlord Thomas started favourite, because he has won five Grade 1 chases in the past, but at nine years old, he is getting a bit long in the tooth by French standards and has now been beaten in all five runs since his last success - that includes a year off as well.

Ones to note if seen in Britain: Edward D'Argent, On The Go
Whilst wishing to avoid anthropomorphism again Edward D'Argent does appear to be having a good chuckle at beating On The Go - again. It looks like Punch Nantais in the background casting an admiring glance.

Race 9: Prix Maurice de Nexon Handicap Chase [2m 2.5f]

1: Ubac Des Places     2: Surdoue De Ballon     3: Bandit D'Ainay

Winner owned: Ecurie Couderc & T De Lauriere, trained: T De Lauriere, ridden: Baptiste Fouchet

This was a race that took a dramatic turnaround in the home straight. Racing more positively in front than most race leaders on the day, Sudiste was not in any obvious state of concern rounding the final bend and it looked like he would take plenty of catching, despite a mistake three out. He went through the second last as well, which allowed the pack to close up and whilst the last fence was less of a problem, he had cooked his own goose and dropped back to fourth. At ten years old Ubac Des Places was the old timer of the field, but he made the trek here on the back of a Toulouse win, his first success since 2014. It looked as if the more youthful Surdoue De Ballon was going to reel in the winner as he came from the rear strongly, but the Ubac Des Places picked up nicely when he heard the threat closing in.
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