Published 18:23, 20/1
There is a mix of both Flat and National Hunt on the eight race-card at Pau on Thursday, and I have selected three horses for the meeting. My first selection is in the opening contest at 10.25, a conditions race over 10f, reserved to older horses. With Jean-Claude Rouget's Mon Ouragan likely to attract a lot of attention, I think it is worth betting on PRESLEY, an Italian import, who is now in training with an Italian man based at Pau, Simone Brogi. This horse ran in some of the best races in Italy over the years and, on his penultimate start at home, finished a good second in a very competitive contest on 4 October, beaten a head. One of his most significant efforts in Italy was a second place, beaten two lengths, behind the very smart Skalleti in November 2019. Although he has not won since 2019, he is definitely the class act here. Presley has enjoyed highs and lows in 2020, but would not need to be at the top of his game to beat this modest bunch. Hopefully he can find a second life for his new stable, and I'm pretty sure he will enjoy this first start on an All-Weather surface, which is always kinder on the bodies of older horses.
I stay on the Flat with my second pick of the day in race 3 at 11.26. This modest claimer for older horses is over 7f and has only eight runners, including the five-year-old LE BEQUET, who arrives on the back of two efforts that rate better than the placings suggest. On 6 January in a handicap over a mile, he was stuck at the rear and finished really well, almost making the places. On his previous outing at Toulouse he made up a lot of late ground to take the fifth in a 10-runner field, which was a much better race than this. A four-time winner from 27 starts, he makes only his second All-Weather start here and should be more comfortable on it than last time, and has a very good chance if in the form of his last two starts. With a reduced field of eight, he is likely to sit in rear and save his turn of foot for late on, and has the assistance of Marlène Meyer who has a four kilos allowance and rode four winners in 2021 - three of which were here at Pau.
My final selection is in the 1.05, a conditions hurdle for older horses over 2m1.5f. Interestingly, the 2019 Grand Steeple winner Carriacou won this race before his big success later in June. Like the former, my selection WINNEYEV is also trained by Isabelle Pacault and owned by her family under the name of Ecurie Mirande. Now a 10-year-old with only 24 runs and 6 victories, including the Grade 3 Prix Duc D'anjou (a chase for four-year-olds at Auteuil), and the Grade 3 Grand Prix de Pau two years later, which is the most important race at the venue. He is also a smart performer over hurdles, even though he never reached the same level. So far in three starts over hurdles at Pau, Winneyev has recorded two second places, and unseated his rider once. He posted an excellent comeback effort here on 29 December after nearly two years on the sidelines, and while the bounce factor (a second run after a long layoff) could be an issue, Isabelle Pacault is a master when it comes to training older horses. She is very kind to them and trains them so they are generally fit and happy at the races. Let's hope Winneyev has come on for his good comeback last month and can get the job done. My next tipping column will be on 24 January, for an 11-race mixed-card at Pau, featuring the highlight of the winter meeting - the Grade 3 Chase Grand Prix de Pau, live on Sky Sports Racing.
Laurent's Best Bets:
PRESLEY (5-1 bet365)
LE BEQUET (7-2 bet365)
WINNEYEV (7-2 bet365)