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Talks of jump racing and the mighty week that was Cheltenham take a back seat as the flat season kicks into full-swing over the next few weeks and on the French scene, Sunday’s afternoon card at Saint-Cloud gives us a first real look at some top-quality animals.
But, beware! These early season meetings can be tricky, with a lot if horses needing a pipe-opener (especially as the ground is heavy). However, I have spotted a couple that should score on the card and hopefully we can keep the ball rolling as we move into Paris.
Andre Fabre debuted NOHAND just under three weeks ago and even though the daughter of Dansili sweated up quite badly before the race and pulled quite hard from a wide draw, she still got the job done in very impressive style in what looked a decent maiden.
Obviously, this represents a step up in class and she will be taking on Group One winner Tiger Tanaka (who in my opinion may just have been a precocious two-year-old). Nohand comes from an excellent family of Group performers and holds some fancy entries, including in the Prix de Diane. I believe she is talented enough to win this contest and I am looking forward to see how she has developed.
This is a horse I put into the notebook on his debut at the start of the year. Since then, TAWFAN came out and proved his debut promise when taking a nice maiden at Cagnes-Sur-Mer in February. The son of Shalaa showed a particular aptitude for the heavy ground that day and his effectiveness in these conditions could make the difference again here.
His trainer Jean-Claude Rouget has kept Tawfan in some of the longer distance Group Ones later on in the season and has called up Cristian Demuro to ride (takes over from Hugo Journiac) – that’s a great sign.
He may be just below winning a Group race, but if ECRIVAN comes into this contest in flying form and more importantly fit! The obvious horse to beat will be the ultra-talented Skalleti, and on ratings Ecrivan has a few kilos to make up, but the former may not be fully tuned-up for this and finished out a hard season in Sha Tin in December.
With that in mind and with a field of the dead eight runners, Ecrivan can get out handy from stall 1 and may prove fit enough to trouble the judge here. I will certainly be having a few euros on!
Not quite my cliff horse, but not far off! KING ROBBIE always runs a good race and is amusing to follow. He has been in the money on nine of his last 10 starts, but unfortunately has only got his head in front once.
King Robbie finds himself with conditions in his favour here and should run his usual big race. The long run in at Saint Cloud should suit his running style and regular partner Theo Bachelot gets the leg up again here. One of these days he will come in for me!
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