There was welcome news last week, when it was announced that At The Races’s successor, Sky Sports Racing, will have exclusive pay TV rights to French racing for three years, commencing on January 1st.
I have maintained for some time now that there is a lot of mileage in following the action in France, at least at the Group-race level. Despite the widespread existence of on-screen sectionals there, few who write or broadcast about the sport go to the trouble of crunching the numbers in order to establish exactly what has gone on.
As a result, flattered winners and unlucky losers are often treated much the same. Even if you are not especially interested in the French action per se, there is enough traffic between France and Britain/Ireland to make it worth keeping more than half an eye on events on the continent.
The news was also timely in that this weekend sees the biggest occasion of the French racing year, and one of the biggest anywhere on the planet, with the Arc Meeting at ParisLongchamp. I will be one of the many making the pilgrimage this time round.
There is an awful lot of catching up to do if you have been ignoring French racing until this point.
What can be stated with confidence is that it has not been a vintage year for the sport in France, especially among two-year-olds. By my calculations, only three of the dozen age-restricted Group races in France this year have gone to home-trained horses, with the other nine heading to Britain. British-trained horses have also won half a dozen listed races.
You might understandably struggle to identify the best juvenile trained in France at present, but that could change at the weekend when the unbeaten Anodor is due to run in the Prix Jean Luc-Lagardere.
Anodor accounted for Persian King (unbeaten since and arguably even more promising) on their debuts in the Prix de Crevecoeur at Deauville then won one of those Group races – the Prix des Chenes – at Sunday’s course and distance.
Both wins came in falsely-run races and resulted in poor timefigures based on overall time. But Anodor’s sectionals identify him as a legitimate Group performer.
He ran the last two 200-metre splits in the Crevecoeur in 10.71s then 11.10s and the Chenes in 10.78s then 11.06s, sectionals that identify him as a 115-rated performer on my figures.
In particular, Anthony Van Dyck recorded one of the best timefigures of the season when second to Quorto in a strongly-run National Stakes at the Curragh last time and promises to be well suited by the return to around a mile.
Further video analysis reveals some interesting contrasts and comparisons in terms of striding, with Boitron having been covered in detail by TPD at Doncaster. Here is a summary of the findings.
The Lagardere may be second or even third billing, behind the Arc and the Abbaye, but it looks unmissable in its own way.
Which do you prefer: the high-revving Anodor, the street-wise Anthony Van Dyck, or the long-striding Boitron? Tactics and getting the splits right could prove all-important.
I seldom write about matters outside racing analysis these days, if not through (my) choice. But I would like to make an exception and draw the reader’s attention to a survey being conducted throughout October by the Horseracing Bettors Forum, of which I am a member and was formerly Chair.
The HBF was created in 2015 with the assistance of the BHA to represent the interests of the British horseracing betting public in matters which might affect them. It is officially recognised and has been active in lobbying for improvements in the provision of data, bookmakers laying a bet, the starting-price system, non-runners, declaration of wind operations, going descriptions, and much more besides.
In order to represent the public faithfully, it needs to check regularly what that public wants. A past survey helped to inform some of those initiatives above.
That is the purpose of this survey, so if you can spare a few minutes you will be making a valuable contribution to ensuring that the public’s wishes are being properly considered. Thank you.
The survey may be found here.
A couple at Ascot on Friday catch the eye, starting with COURTSIDE in the opener at 1:50. The gelding drops in distance to 7f but could prove very well suited by it on a stiff track and with the likelihood of a strong pace, circumstances which often see his jockey Jamie Spencer in an especially good light.
Courtside turned in some useful sectionals last time at Yarmouth, where he was run out of it only late on at a mile, and trainer David Simcock is ending the season in good form.
COUNT OTTO goes in a competitive handicap two races later and is fancied to run into a place at least, following a promising third last time at Chelmsford, where he got carried back to a disadvantageous position early on.
Timeform has Count Otto’s time from halfway (33.67s) as the fastest by any horse at the course and distance this year, and he could catch some better-fancied rivals on the hop here given better luck in running.