As we continue to count down the days until racing returns in the UK, with just over a week until that happens, our focus remains on the action out in France. A number of small fields have not helped our betting potential in recent days but having scoured the Saturday cards there is one I like which comes in the big race at Bordeaux.
The big race on the card is the Listed Grand Prix De Bordeaux over 9.5 furlongs. It has attracted a small but very competitive field of 8 runners with almost all the field holding sound claims.
The market currently suggests this is between 4, with the favourite being 1 of the Rouget pair in Joe Francais. He has won his last 2 starts, both in a lesser grade when going on at odds on. He scrambled home on the first of those starts before recording a comfortable 3 length win last time. Last term, he struggled in better class Listed & Group company, finishing no better than midfield in 3 runs. This is easier than last season’s assignments but harder than recent runs; for that reason, he’s hard to weigh up but there’s no value at 2/1.
6 of the other runners all have form lines through each other, with the exception being All Grace who ran midfield in decent events last year. She’s moved yards, having her first run since leaving Andre Fabre and has plenty to prove.
Of the remaining 6, Mr Satchmo, Aubevoye & Diamond Vendome are the 3 fancied by the market. Mr Satchmo was recently 6th in a Group 1 in Doha but has claims on last year’s excellent form when winning 5 of his 7 starts including 3 in this grade. On the best form, he’s as likely to win as any but does have some average runs to overcome too. He has twiced faced Aubevoye, once when 3 lengths behind that rival off the same terms & once when his opponent, Rouget’s alleged second string, faded badly & was virtually pulled up close home.
In his 2 runs this year, Aubevoye has finished in front of Diamond Vendome & Velma Valento on both starts over 1 mile 2 furlongs on the all-weather at Cagnes Sur Mer. The first of those rivals comes here on slightly better terms whilst the latter has it all to do. The issue Diamond Vendome faces is that he likes to go from the front & can sulk if not getting his own way, shown when finishing 7th three times in succession last year. He faces a battle in a race with pace today.
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Cnicht looks outclassed leaving us the other front runner, Apollo Flight, as the value bet here. There are a few doubts such as an absence of over 200 days as well as the battle he faces for the lead but, on a form line through a couple of today’s rivals, he holds every chance. The selection disappointed on his last start when down the field in a big field on the all-weather but it’s plain to see small fields suit better. He won 2 last year, the most recent when 3 lengths in front of Velma Valento. He’s also 3lbs better off with that rival. He also faced Aubevoye twice, most recently finishing just in front when 5th in a Listed race at Clairefontaine.
Previous to that, he was edged out into 2nd by that same rival by the shortest of heads at Longchamp. This slightly shorter trip should help here. His liking for a small field is well touted as, in 4 runs with 8 or less runners, he’s won one, finished 2nd by a head and, in the other 2, never beaten by more than 2.5 lengths including in a Listed race when 1 mile 4 furlongs tested his stamina. If fit, the market surely has it wrong with the selection in double figures and Aubevoye at a general 7/2. The front 3 (Joe Francais, Mr Satchmo & Aubevoye) do look solid but at over 3 times the price, the selection is the one most likely to get in amongst them in an intriguing heat.
Back Apollo Flight (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 13.00 Coral (⅕ odds 1-3)