A tremendous card at Auteuil today, the first of two days of top-class action, or ’48H de l’Obstacle’, as it is billed in France.

There are a couple I like early on the card, but they are priced about right and I’ve headed to the Quinte for today’s bet, with Espoir Royal a really interesting contender towards the foot of the weights.

The seven year old has had more than his fair share of problems since a promising 2018 campaign, in which he finished third in the Grade 3 Prix The Fellow here.  He was off for 18 months and didn’t show much on his first three starts back in 2020, but there was much more to like about his third here last November off a mark of 59.

Off for another 11 months, he returned with a third at Nancy a fortnight ago, travelling noticeably well and really looking to enjoy himself.  It looked more of a schooling race for him than anything else, he wasn’t knocked around at all when headed and it’s encouraging that he has come out of the race well enough to line up here, which has presumably been the target for some time.  He’ll need to improve on the bare form, but conditions today will suit him much better.

Marcel Rolland’s team are in the best form they have been in the past couple of years – having been 5-131 through to the beginning of September, 10 of his last 39 runners have won, including three winners and five seconds here in recent weeks, which offers further hope.

2.15pm Auteuil – 0.5pt win Espoir Royal @ 10-1 (all firms)