Dieppe, 14/8/17

All you need to do in order to get to Dieppe from Les Landes is: Coach from racecourse to St Helier, boat from St Helier to Granville, hotel for a night in Granville, early coach from Granville to Coutances (no other passengers, all very civilised), train from Coutances to Caen, train from Caen to Rouen, train from Rouen to Dieppe. OK, it was a good job that Dieppe was a 16.40 kick off, but it is amazing that nobody else was even trying this simple commute. The only regret was chickening out of adding in Kilbeggan on Saturday as well. Also odd about Dieppe is how few British racegoers tend to be there considering that it is walking distance from the Newhaven ferry terminal. Only two others were obvious this evening, and as one of them was sporting a Rush t-shirt, they were clearly people of superior taste. Normally the entire nation of sports fans will turn for anything abroad as long as the country sells beer.

Going: very soft

Race 1: Prix D’Aigueperse 3 year old fillies hurdle [2m 1f]

1: Over The Edge     2: Embellie     3: Lit D’Ange

Winner owned: Mme P Papot, trained: Guillaume Macaire, ridden: Kevin Nabet

The entry for this race constituted pretty much every three year old filly in France, but somehow the race was whittled down to fourteen runners. A few of those had been battering the places over jumps so far, and Over The Edge was one of them. The field was fairly condensed three out (apart from early refuser Princess Waddi - when asked “waddi ya want?” her reply was “not hurdles”). Over The Edge showed a nice degree of power to keep Embellie at bay, but there was a fair chance of a different story if La Sauveuse had not fallen at the last when barely a length off the lead a finishing well – she has ominously now fallen in her last two. The eye catcher in the paddock was Apsyde, making her racing debut. She towered over most of her rivals and looks like a proper jumper. Travelling in midfield most of the way, she had already weakened out of contention when hampered at the last, but she has the makings of a horse with plenty more to come. The winner’s stablemate Terre De Lune set off in last and whilst making some progress, no risk of winning was apparent. She will do better with less negative tactics.

Race 2: Prix Le Roi Thibaud 5 year olds hurdle [2m 3f]

1: Shenko Magic     2: Oro D’Allier     3: Prince Du Brizais

Winner owned: JY Seroux, trained: N Paysan, ridden: Hugo Lucas

The video of this race needs to be put on continual loop in La Sauveuse’s stable as earlier this year Shenko Magic fell three times in a row, and this victory came after just one safe clear round for confidence boosting purposes. Perhaps those cetaceans could also help La Sauveuse. Turning for home, Prince Du Brizais led and was shaping as if he meant to stay there, but when the pack got alongside, he quivered and surrendered quite quickly. Having shown up moderately well in a flat race on debut then got a pulled up and a seventh in modest hurdle races, the scenario in which he almost started favourite seemed to be drawn from a universe with different standards of assessment to ours. The timid ending caused Prince Du Brizais to lose second to Oro D’Allier, who had shown nothing of note in the talent department prior to today. Dinette De Ballon failed to complete her hat trick due to being given too much to do, although the first two elements were in chases and perhaps hurdling all happens a bit too fast for her. Another chaser, Carminor, ran rather well on his first spin for 434 days. In the mix until the second last, he was allowed to cruise home at his own convenience once beaten (about two hurdles from home) and despite not lacking fitness here, the exercise should have done something for him.
Shenko Magic lurks on the very right of shot, giving a temporary limelight moment to Carminor (1), Rawai (9), Liberty Du Charmil (4), Joffretou (2) and Ord D’Allier (5). Turns out that Shenko Magic had it all under control.

Race 3: Prix Choute 3 year old colts & geldings hurdle [2m 1f]

1: Schwarzwald     2: Apollo Creed     3: Yard Bird

Winner owned: Ecurie Des Mouettes, trained: Guillaume Macaire, ridden: Bernard Lestrade

Nothing much caught the eye before the race, but style in which Schwarzwald dismissed the opposition had plenty of merit to it. He looked to be in control at the second last, but fast finishing types always seem to emerge from the pack in this type of race in France and this time it was Apollo Creed, whose effort belied a rocky career of failure up to this point in time. This was only his second hurdle, and who knows Weathers it is him turning over a new leaf. Elsewhere in the line up, the puns were all musical. One Sweet is far from a Blockbuster, and after sitting in rear most of the way he gave two out a Wig Wam Bam and hit the deck. Yard Bird was probably only showing exactly the shapes of things before our eyes in coming third, although time may make him more wise. And in a surreal moment we had two references to 80s Canadian cult heroes Kick Axe via Magicman (4th) and A Magic Man (11th). And like the band, top prizes were out of reach.

Race 4: Prix Mandarino 4 year olds handicap chase [2m 1.5f]

1: Diligent     2: Six En Tique     3: Takelot

Winner owned: Mme P Papot, trained: Guillaume Macaire, ridden: Ray O’Brien

The paddock picks here were Fort Harmony and Six En Tique, but as the result shows, only one of them lived up to the vision presented. In the case of Six En Tique, bashing away at places is her modus operandum, and she generally does it better in chases. The opposite is true of Fort Harmony, who has some really solid looking hurdle form but started as the outsider because his earlier chase experience exposed presumably some technical flaws – finding full French results on line is easy, but finding comments in running is a challenge. Fort Harmony was fine for the first handful, but once misjudging one fence, the sloppiness became the norm and he finally got rid of his rider two from the finish. Meanwhile, Diligent was just getting on with winning. He has been beaten at this level recently but seemed to find the right race, although it did seem that Takelot would have something to say about the outcome until he found he came under pressure late on and found nothing extra when it was needed. Protekblue and Lou Princess failed to shine despite both dropping down from races with more than twice the value of this.
Takelot leads Six En Tique a lap out, chased by Protekbleu, Diligent and Atlanta Du Berlais. Then sort of chased by Fort Harmony

Race 5: Prix Rene Menard 4 year olds hurdle [2m 1f]

1: Delta Baie     2: Mick Taros     3: Kick Down

Winner owned & trained: Jerome Zuliani, ridden: Mikael Danglades

This proved to be an abject paddock watching failure. None of the ten runners initially stood out, although a few, including the winner, did notably look very well. Then the jockeys came out and the goalposts moved. Delta Baie, who had been ambling around the paddock slowly and with unusual disinterest for a horse having only his second race (and causing traffic congestion behind), really perked up when there was a rider on board, and suddenly he did mark himself out from the crowd. With his debut being a fifth place on the flat here in a lesser value race for amateur riders, no action was taken. End result? Won going away, paid E47.80 on the PMU. D’Oh! It was a strange sort of race as the early leaders got swamped at the end of the far straight, but having lost their prominent position, a couple rallied and were in the mix at the end, notably Mick Taros but also Fava Has, who was fifth without being far off of second place. The overall verdict was that the field had limited achievements so far and the form is ordinary, but Delta Baie is an interesting possible to keep progress coming.

Race 6: Prix Al Capone II amateur riders’ chase [2m 3.5f]

1: Maximo Merido     2: Baboukas     3: Calin D’Aubois

Winner owned: P Chiche, trained: Guillaume Macaire, ridden: Barbara Guenet

A cunning trick by the track – make your feature event an amateur riders only race and the prize money can be in the same E21,000 to E23,000 bracket as the rest of the card. You have to let these people know that you are on to them, even if in the grand scheme of things it does not matter a jot. The race yielded a fourth Guillaume Macaire success on the card, and has he had travelled up from Pau in person (mustard corduroys, giant binoculars and all), this was perhaps not an unexpected yield. Maximo Merido won four on the spin last year including two at Auteuil and had also won a hurdle last time as part of the comeback plan from seven months off. So this really was a race well within his grasp, and the only surprise was late betting opposition that saw him drift from 2/5 out to 4/5. Pace setting Baboukas kept going for second in a race where the seven runners stayed in a clump for the final circuit and turned the race into a dash from the second last fence. Calin D’Aubois is getting placed often, including in more valuable races, but he has not won since 2015 and his heroic record now reads 34 races with 2 wins and 20 places – the commitment to the cause of teasing defeat has to be admired, despite those couple of accidents. On his return from fourteen months off, it seemed that My Marlim ran rather decently to be fourth by about five lengths, but none of the connections looked overly pleased after the race, so maybe he was considered fit enough to aim for better.

Race 7: Prix De L’Ailly apprentice riders’ hurdle [2m 3f]

1: Linodargent     2: Barleda     3: Malak El Hawa

Winner owned: G Pariente, trained: Yannick Fouin, ridden: Thomas Stromboni

Consecutive races for amateurs and apprentices seemed to thin out the crowd somewhat, but this finish was a belter, well worth clinging on for. Linodargent went to the front after the fourth last and did a good job of worrying the enemy out of their comfort zone, but it appeared that Barleda was the exception. At the final hurdle, Barleda was less than a length down and the more likely winner but Linodargent held on by a whisker, the pair having gone relatively clear of rest. In the post-race interviews the announcer made a comment that I did not understand that referred to something being like the English. Whether this referred to hanging on in quiet desperation or taking 23 races to finally get a win is not clear. However, in Linodargent’s modest history it needs to be credited that since finishing runner-up over course and distance in April in the same prize band, he has lost four times but all in races worth E105,000. This is clearly his level and more success is possible if allowed to stay in it. Malak El Hawa was another taking a drop in class. He dealt with it less excitingly, but may have need to acclimatise a bit more. The theory of down in grade paying off begins to cease erm, paying off, when we consider Dakota D’Agrostis. Last two races down the field at Auteuil, last of seven here.
Linodargent is feeling pretty pleased with himself – the only winning grey all night from a substantial turn out.

Race 8: Prix Boum cross country chase [2m 6.5f]

1: Tapioca     2: Volcan D’Estruval     3: Vidocq Du Rivage

Winner owned & trained: Jerome Follain, ridden: Olivier Jouin

It did look for all the world as if the closing event was destined to be Macaire winner number five. However, Volcan D’Estruval got done for pace over the final couple of obstacles. As it was only his third race since 2013, it would not do to judge him too harshly, but note that he was ready enough to win last time at Pompadour, so has not been building up his readiness slowly. Tapioca had been failed to finish both races this year and seems to have a knack for ending up on the deck, but had finished second at Pau eighteen months or so back to show that when his jumping skills do not dessert him, he is capable of a sweet performance. The pair had daylight back to Vidocq Du RIvage, who was in his first race since April 2016. Before the absence he was not staying races over three miles plus, but put up a good show here, back at his optimum-ish distance. On known form, Colier D’Or is very functional in cross-country races. In the flesh, he looks too small to excel at the job and he had 76 kilos (approx. 11 stone 13 pounds) on his back today. This was irrelevant in the end as leaving the dip at obstacle four he stumbled and unseated his rider. Alabama Lounai turned out to be a) not at all American, b) boringly sensible and c) last of the six finishers.
And to finish, these confidence building porpoises may help remind La Sauveuse how to take a hurdle
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