Our first bet of the day goes in the juvenile claimer at Saint-Cloud (2.00pm). It’s not a race I would normally rush to bet in – the first two year old race of the season was just a few days ago so all of these are having their first run.
However, this doesn’t look a great renewal on paper and while the favourite Inquisitive Mind hails from a specialist two year old yard that is already on the board this season, she is priced accordingly. The second favourite, Magic Dariya, is from another yard that does well with two year olds, but is bred for much further than this and generally the rest don’t make much appeal on paper, with the exception of Ma Clair.
The daughter of Johnny Barnes is a half-sister to last year’s speedy juvenile Ma Noire, who won at La Teste on this day last year and ended up gaining black type. She’s bred to be precocious and it’s interesting that Mont-de-Marsan based Claire Gavilan makes the journey to Saint-Cloud with this, rather than staying in the provinces. Both she and jockey Alexandre know all about prepping juveniles from their time with Bruno de Montzey and Didier Guillemin respectively, so at the 10-1 on offer (it was bigger when I started this write-up!), Ma Clair is worth backing.
2.00pm Saint-Cloud – 1pt win Ma Clair @ 10-1 (various)
The Prix Balmoral (4.20pm) is a 15-25 handicap and, unsurprisingly, looks a weak race. Though she has a string of duck eggs to her name, today might be the day for Soho Vicky.
Her last four runs have come on the PSF and the two before that on heavy ground, which she doesn’t handle. The fourth at Compiegne in October off a 3kg higher mark was a decent effort, particularly considering she didn’t get a clear run late on.
She won here over a mile last April in a claimer, the form of which is fair in the context of this, and was runner-up over 1m2f here (so half a furlong shorter than today’s trip) in June off a 6kg higher mark than today’s, so she looks dangerously well-handicapped off this career-low mark.
Ground conditions are in her favour, and Ludovic Boisseau, who was on board when she won here last year, is back on for the first time since September. Romain Le Gal had a winner and a second with his only two runners in big-field handicaps at Chantilly on Tuesday, which is also encouraging.
4.20pm Saint-Cloud – 1pt win, 0,5pt place Soho Vicky @ 14-1 4 places (Skybet, Betfred, Coral, Ladbrokes)
Elsewhere on the card, I’m keen to take on those at the top of the market in the newcomers’ contest (1.25pm). Ingres was given no ride in an AFASEC (schooling) race last time, but was still tailed off and didn’t close in the straight. Ak Ishan is reportedly very well-regarded, but Pascal Bary has been slow out of the blocks this year and sire Recorder’s stats are poor.
At a bigger price, it might be worth chancing Mascagni. He has a strong page, his yard is going well and he is one of only two Prix du Jockey Club entries for the yard. The 9-1 on offer looks fair, but I’ve already put up one newcomer today!