The last Group 1 of the Season, the Prix Renaud du Vivier could see François Nicolle take home one more big race this year and consolidate his position as the leading trainer in France for the second season running.
Paul Nicholls sends over Pic d'Orhy, a horse that used to be with François Nicolle, who trains the odds-on favourite L'Autonomie.
A daughter of Group 1 winner Karly Flight and a half-sister to several smart performers, BUNNY FLIGHT (12.25) made a promising chase debut at the venue three weeks ago in a better race than Sunday’s.
She was up against experienced fillies that day and made a mistake three obstacles from home. She has plenty of scope though, and looks a really promising chase prospect. I believe that with one run over fences under her belt now, she will be hard to beat in this contest.
Only a handful of runners in the Prix Sytaj (13.35), a Group 3 chase for Four and Five-year-old fillies and mares. Lady Ardilaum and Saint Saone are likely to garner most of the support. However, I have a doubt about Lady Ardilaum’s capability to run another good race three weeks after her last big effort in heavy ground and I have questions about Sainte Saone’s stamina.
That’s why I think EMERAUDE DE KERZA is good each-way value. She finished second in this race last year. Her trainer had made this Group 3 a long-term target.
She would have finished much closer in the competitive Prix Montgomery last time out had she not made a mistake at the second last. She’s an each-way bet.
An extended trip of 3900m over hurdles await 16 four-year-olds in the big handicap (14.15) of the day. I fancied Montgeoffroy in the race of reference run here three weeks ago over 3600m. He finished second at 20/1 that day but I tend to think that the extra distance and his prohibitive top weight might be an issue.
FUEGO DE SOMOZA finished sixth in that same contest and was running in a handicap for the first time. He will sooner or later win a race of this nature and it could be this Sunday.
He will be ridden more aggressively this time and no doubt the extra trip will suit him. He is trained by Arnaud Chaillé-Chaillé who has enjoyed a very productive autumn and Fuego De Somoza seems the best chance of his three representatives in the race. He’s another I’ll back each-way.
Not only has he got two solid candidates in the race (15.25) with Polirico and Porto Pollo, top French trainer François NIcolle also trains the favourite L’AUTONOMIE who has won six of her nine starts to date and that includes four Group 3s.
She was a runaway winner of the prep-race Prix Pierre de Lassus three weeks ago under a penalty and finds much better weight conditions here so she will definitely be very hard to beat.
After her last success, François Nicolle compared his filly to the recently retired champion De Bon Coeur that won this race for him two years ago. There is a slight question mark about her ability to handle the heavy ground, but it’s also the case for most of her rivals so that should not be used as an excuse.
Let’s hope we have another French champion who can walk in the footsteps of the mighty De Bon Coeur.
LA MANDRAGOLA (16.00) has been very unfortunate in her last two runs which resulted in as many falls. She was on the front end when she fell two from home in her most recent outing and was full of running at the time.
Stable jockey Regis Schmidlin steps back in for the ride here and the filly is expected to make amends in the Tournay Handicap Hurdle.
She is well-handicapped and comes in the race relatively fresh. She knows how to win and although the heavy ground is a question mark, her experience will be a big positive factor. Back her each-way.
Laurent's Best Bets:
EMERAUDE DE KERZA (EW)
FUEGO DE SOMOZA (EW)
LA MANDRAGOLA (EW)