A mixed card at Pau today and our bet runs in the second division of the handicap hurdle, with Erwan Grall’s High’ Ela a really interesting contender.
She is a 10-race maiden, which isn’t ideal! However, she has shown more than enough to suggest she can win races, with her two best runs both coming here in 2020. Fifth in a conditions chase against some useful performers in January of that year, she finished second to Ite Missa Est (who won here on New Year’s Eve) in May 2020 off a mark of 54, 4kg higher than today’s mark.
She did too much in front before falling over fences here early last month on her return from 18 months off, and was then held up back over hurdles in a claimer last time, making headway in the back straight but getting tired from the turn for home.
The form figures aren’t particularly inspiring, but she has dropped in the weights and Grall has suggested she has come on plenty for the run. He really is a trainer to follow in these handicaps and there was only one trainer in the top 30 (the shrewd Jean-Philippe Dubois) with a better strike-rate in handicaps than Grall’s 23% (7-31) in 2021.
In off a prohibitive top tag of €15K last time, this valuable handicap (€55K prize-money, with the top-rated just 53) may well have been her main target and though she’ll need to bounce back to the form she was showing in 2020, there is plenty in her favour, not least the continued good form of her yard.
3.45pm Pau – 1pt win, 0.5pt place High Ela @ 10-1 (all firms)