Huge scenes over here in France this weekend as it’s the return of jump races at Auteuil (basically French Cheltenham just without Guinness). Some massive fields and a lot of very talented horses, some of who should pop up over the coming years in the UK and Ireland. There is so much to fancy on the card that I found it hard to narrow down, but my NAP was an easy one.
A Guillaume Macaire-trained three-year-old always commands respect, especially when the master trainer starts to send them up to Auteuil. NIMES is a beautifully bred son of Saint Des Saints who is actually still a colt and is having only his second start this afternoon for Macaire.
A three-length winner on his debut at Compiegne in March, Nimes still looked green that day and looked as if the best was still to come. He is ridden by English-born jockey James Reveley who excels on this type of horse and won on him first-time out. Although there are only seven runners and it looks an extremely competitive race, I am confident that Nimes can step up to listed level with success.
A really exciting four-year-olds steeplechase with plenty of potential group horses but the one that impressed me the most so far is NANOSECOND. Trained by champion trainer François Nicolle (who could have a great weekend) Nanosecond has only ran five times and is one of the most inexperienced in the field, but I don’t think that will matter as his winning chase debut came here at Auteuil.
There were lots of things I loved about that win, firstly, the distance was almost five furlongs shorter than today and the horse was flat out all the way, he will love this longer test. Secondly, he hit the line with loads in the tank without his jockey Angelo Zuliani going for everything and thirdly, he jumped like a buck that day and as a four-year-old around Auteuil that’s essential.
The Patrice Quinton-trained KATY LOVE has been in unstoppable form all winter in Pau since finishing second on her debut and her form reads 1122. I have followed her for a while now(I spent the winter in Pau) and love everything about her, she travels quite strongly and jumps with efficiency. Her jockey Nathalie Desoutter, who has ridden Katy Love in all four starts is exceptional on these type of young horses heading to Auteuil for the first time and really knows how to get the best out of them.
I think that if she handles the conversion from Pau to Auteuil she could play a huge part in the finish, although I would be worried about SEDUCTION and also ZIALIGHT.
The last race on the card is the French equivalent of the ‘Martin Pipe’ at Cheltenham, so obviously it requires two things: a well-handicapped horse and a capable young jockey.
If we look right down towards the bottom of the weights to FANTASIA DU ROCK we should find exactly what we are looking for. Trained by David Cottin this filly has finished second on her last three starts (all in decent handicaps) and unlike in the UK or Ireland, she is not penalised for that.
Also with eighteen runners in the field, it should pay to keep out of trouble and Fantasia du Rock has been ridden prominently on her three most recent starts. She has the blinkers back on today and it would be no surprise if her promising young rider Charlotte Prichard (who also claims 2kgs extra for being a woman) doesn’t see another rival all the way to the finish.
Jason Kiely’s Selections for Auteuil on Saturday:
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