Cluny, 25/8/19

Cluny, a medieval village in Burgundy dominated since inception by the local Abbey - in the 13th century it seems the locals passed a bye law banning the abbot from visiting the square in front of the church. If that is not a hint that a person is incredibly irritating, then what is? The village has a small amount of accommodation, including Hotel Saint Odilon overlooking the course, but not all of it shows up on internet accommodation portals. The track is narrow and tight, right on a mile round. There are the other local sporting facilities in the middle in front of the stand, and maybe a farm just the other side. Beyond that is the main TGV line to Paris (like some unholy concoction of Plumpton, Downpatrick and Hereford, if anyone is seeking such a thing), which is responsible for Cluny having a station and bus stop Cluny – Gare, but no evidence of an actual train service. It also lacks a gorge which would have been as puntastic as life gets. If staying in Macon, where the TGV actually stops, bus service LR701 from Macon-Ville SNCF station (also stops at the TGV station) takes you to Cluny, where Cluny–Ville bus stop is five minutes walk from the course. And costs a bank busting 1.50 Euros. As for the racing, the high temperatures and/or fast ground led to non-runners on what was already a numerically modest card but it did make it dead easy to pick winners. The card had three chases (one of the cross country) and four mile and a half AQPS flat races. In Britain they are reported as jumps form, treated as bumpers, and given the way these were run, the reasoning seems valid. Some adaptable jockeys rode in, and even won, both types of race.

Going: Quick

Race 1: Prix Thierry Gagey [1m 4f] 3 year olds maiden AQPS flat race

1: Magic De La Rue     2: Gibraltar D’Arros     3: Galiano Chatho

Winner owned: Mick Guildoux, trained: Mme A-L Guildoux, ridden: Thibault Dachis

Four horses were present for this race. Two were unraced, one had finished fifth twice and the other fifth in a solitary racecourse appearance. The most experienced runner had appeal if looking at Magic De La Rue’s first run and writing off his subsequent drubbing as a moment when it all went horribly wrong for some reason. He had the best turn of foot here (all things are relative) and the once-raced Gibraltar D’Arros had just enough ability to fend off Galiano Chatho (needed the run) and Garry De La Brunie (stocky and built to jump) for the minor prize.

Race 2: Prix Jean Mommessin [1m 4f] 4 year olds maiden AQPS flat race

1: Furida D’Airy     2: Fine Lady     3: Ficelle De L’Isle

Winner owned & trained: A Kleindienst, ridden: Ludovic Proietti

Only one of the five, Fernande, was debuting and she avoided finishing last. The result was a one-two for the owner/trainer of Furida D’Airy and Fine Lady, with the sash to differentiate the colours sitting with Furida D’Airy. Was it second best horse (expected outcome) or simply the second one on the racecard? Furida D’Airy had previously finished behind Fine Lady, who in turn had improved when dropped in distance from 1m 7f to a mile and a half, so an element of upset was involved. The third, Ficelle De L’Isle, is owned by Comte G de Certaines. Admittedly it the horse doing the work but if you cannot rely on the Count of Certainty what can be depended on? Well, after two of the AQPS flat races, it was beginning to suggest that not being beaten far in one was a reflection of the typical race tactics rather than horse talent.   here.
A cautious quintet with a circuit to go. Furida D’Airy is in third, Fine Lady in fourth. Ficelle De L’Isle is leading Flocon De Jade, who was the one to drop back behind sweeper upper Fernande.

Race 3: Prix Patrick De Slane 4 year olds Chase [2m 2f]

1: Fun Du Lemo     2: Forza Conti     3: France Will

Winner owned: M Le Floch, trained: Gabe Leenders, ridden: Angelo Gasnier

Onto the first serious event. The betting concentrated on two horses. Fun Du Lemo had recovered from a very dodgy start to racing that will forever read PFP in the form book into a competent lower grade performer. She had two chase wins this season and a third place at Le Lion D’Angers, which we would expect to be tougher company than put up against her here. The market favoured Forza Conti who had finished first and third in her only hurdle races and then won her chase debut at Castera-Verduzan – only one other horse finished. That pair opened a little bit of daylight with six furlongs to run and at the business end achievement in the book trumped potential. Well done Fun, but more to come from Forza. Especially as from a vantage point about fifty metres from the line it did look as if Forza Conti had hung on and it was quite a pleasant surprise when number two was called the winner. France Will has been trundling along a touch short of brilliantly since becoming a chaser and this was her second straight third place on course and distance. The previous one only had three runners, so kudos to her for theoretically doing better in a six horse race, ending up clear of the remaining trio.

Ones to watch out for: Fun Du Lemo & Forza Conti
The racecard form shows whether a course is left or right-handed but at Cluny they go both directions in a chase at different stages, and all over the shop in a cross-country. Forza Contileads Fun Du Lemo and Face A Face Sivola. Mount Silver and Forest Belin go their own way as France Will stalks the lot of them.
Same race! Not the same order! Not the same direction!

Race 4: Prix De L’Union Des Eleveurs AQOS Du Centre-Est [1m 4f] 3 year old maiden fillies AQPS flat race

1: Golden D’Anjou      2: Gamine De Guye

Winner owned: SCEA Ecurie Domaine de Baune, trained: Auguste De Boisbrunet, ridden: Maxime Camus

In name, this was the local Breeders Cup for the AQPS horses, and it turned out to be eventful in way that the American tosh rarely manages to conjure up. Initially there was one non-runner, then two were withdrawn, leaving three to participate. One of those was debuting, and although the other pair had finished in the frame, it had happened in small fields and the local PMU showed little confidence in any of them. Game Of Bach led, jinked on the first bend and dropped her rider. That left two to stroll round at a very genteel pace and when it became a two furlong sprint, Golden D’Anjou readily outpaced Gamine De Guye. For a debut run Golden D’Anjou probably learned very little from it, and is now excluded from maidens to boot, but she is a chunky filly and may be destined for hurdles soon anyway. As far as Game Of Bach is concerned, she may have been protesting that with Bach as her sire and Thin Lizy as her dam, she should have been named Fightingmywaybach (as it is presumed Running Bach is already taken).

One to watch out for: Golden D’Anjou

Race 5: Grand Steeplechase De Cluny [2m 4f]

1: Bad Boy Bouloise     2: Fine Angels     3: Flogapa

Winner owned: F Boistier, trained: Auguste De Boisbrunet, ridden: Maxime Camus

With four runs this year seeing him finish second or third each time, Bad Boy Bouloise had obvious appeal and the only worry was him being in a success free zone since 2016. However, some of the oppo were not far off of being winless forever (Fine Angels is now played fifty, won one), so the fact that Bad Boy Bouloise had multiple successes was a plus. With the afternoon heat beginning to tell, undue fascination was had with the fact that number three moved in third three fences out, but as hard(?) as Fine Angels tried, Bad Boy Bouloise always had her at arms length. Flogapa was the one horse with an impressive strike rate (ten wins from thirty) but he left Guillaume Macaire a couple of years ago with nine first places out of eighteen runs and the sole victory for the current team was a 2m 7f Cluny cross country chase which is more alliterative than useful in this scenario. Aristoloche was a one-paced fourth and well behind them was Ribalino, who began his career at Auteuil, finishing seventh, then was fifth at Lyon-Parilly and has since been steadily relegated down the venues with not much gained from it.
Plenty of similar colours to earlier pictures, but not the same horses. Aristoloche, then Bad Boy Bouloise, Fine Angels, Flogapa and Ribalino

Race 6: Prix Utin Du Moulin [1m 4f] 4-5 year olds AQPS flat raced

1: Emir Gueulatis     2: Envie De L’Isle     3: Encre Brune

Winner owned & trained: C Ligerot, ridden: Benjamin Gethay

The sole non-maiden amongst the AQPS sport although only Emir Gueulatis had actually won a race, so it nearly was a maiden. And Envie De L’Isle may choose to observe that this the winner was a gelding and owned a previous success, so if it was a fillies’ maiden, she wins it, despite having not really shown anything in two past flat runs and two hurdle runs. As per the other flat races, it evolved into a sprint from a slow pace and Emir Gueulatis was always in command of that situation. Encre Brune is winless in seventeen races but has her best efforts at Cluny, so is a good yardstick for the form, if not a massively complimentary one.

Race 7: Prix De L’Abbaye De Cluny Cross Country Chase [2m 7f]

1: Deesse Fleur     2: Baratin De Sivola     3: Broad Peak

Winner owned A Hamel, trained: H Despont, ridden: Hakim Tabet

The final event and quite properly the Prix De L’Abbaye (Cluny version) is not some rancid old sprint. It was a momentous occasion prompting extreme delight as Deesse Fleur was winning for the first time – in her forty-ninth race. Jockey Hakim Tabet was noted walking the course before race six, although he seemed to be on the phone most of the time, and whilst it may be that he developed a decisive insight almost by accident, the main incident occurred with just over a mile to go. Leader Broad Peak, who had been very comfortable at the obstacles and only slightly foxed by a very tight turn from the water jump back onto the course proper, completely misjudged the descent from the bank and dropped to last, hampering two opponents in the process. He sneaked cautiously back into the race, joining Deesse Fleur two from home, but had nothing more from there and lost second to Baratin De Sivola. The runner-up had a good mosie round in the back before creeping closer with half a mile to go. From there he did not find much and might be the stereotypical “tricky ride” although he does dig out the odd victory. Amigrock was not far back in fourth, potentially not recovering from Broad Peak’s moment of madness. A note about this race. Including the non-runner Blague Pas, they had an average of two and a half wins apiece (Deese Fleur was the only maiden) but to achieve that standard they had averaged 43 races each. So simply by producing a winner, their combined strike rate had to rise - from 5.8% to 6.1%. Therefore we can treat this race as heroic all round.  
In a moment as rare as Deesse Fleur (red & yellow at the back) winning, UK-Jumping pressed the camera button spot on the key moment in the race, one of chaos for Broad Peak. It missed the jockey staging a great recovery (and he got a hefty round of applause next time the field passed the stand) but this is not a sign of good things happening to the grey. Tabac D’Estruval (red cap) and Amigrock (red sleeves) tussle for second ahead of Baratin De Sivola (yellow cap).
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