A tricky card at Auteuil this afternoon, but I’m tempted by a couple at big prices from the Daniela Mele yard in the two divisions of the handicap chase, the first of them being 25-1 shot Gardiala (4.35pm).

She concedes race fitness to quite a few of these, but she looked a really tough filly last term and it will be interesting to see how she progresses this season.  She had four runs between mid-December and the end of January at Pau, which is a big ask for a late 3yo/early 4yo, winning an eventful chase on her final start there.  Rather than being sent on a break, she went on to contest four Graded contests here at Auteuil, finishing third in Grade 3 company in March and running creditably on defeat on her next start.  She was also tipping away nicely in front when making a race-ending mistake at the big open ditch in the Grade 2 Prix Jean Stern in April.

A scopey filly, I think she is a likely improver this season and though that may not be first time up, the fact she was given three entries here (two for this meeting, one in Listed company next week, for which she isn’t qualified due to her Graded placing in the spring) is encouraging, while her dam was a high-class four-year-old chaser here, winning at Listed and Grade 3 level.  The booking of James Reveley is an obvious positive and at the price, it is worth taking a chance on her fitness.

4.35pm Auteuil – 1pt win Gardiala @ 25-1 (all firms)

The second bet from the Mele yard is Kap Ocean in the concluding handicap chase (5.10pm).

Daniela Mele runs four in the race, but I do think Kap Ocean is a little overpriced at 16-1.  He wasn’t sighted on his first three starts over hurdles, which came within the space of a month at the end of 2022, but his recent reappearance on chasing debut at Le Touquet offered plenty to work with.

The combination of softer ground and a step up in trip should help here – he has plenty of size and looks a late-developing sort, with which the yard often do well.  Two of his three male siblings have gained black type around here and while a big step up is required, it is interesting that connections have pitched him in here and at 16-1, he is well worth supporting.

In the same race, I am also backing Hors Pair.  He had jumped like an old pro around here in March before falling just as the race was developing, seemingly put off by a stumble shortly before the obstacle.  Though his record doesn’t suggest he is rapidly improving, his third at Lyon Parilly last time (disqualified as jockey Alain de Chitray failed to weigh in) was a decent performance, on what was his first start for three months.

A really well-bred son of Network, his yard have really been finding form of late after a very quiet season and their record here last season, when the yard was going very well, was really impressive (6-24).  He has the physical scope to improve and the return here could see him get off the mark.

5.10pm Auteuil

1pt win Kap Ocean @ 16-1 (all firms)

1pt win Hors Pair @ 7-1 (Bet365, Paddy Power, Betfair, 13/2 elsewhere)