ParisLongchamp opens its doors this afternoon with a terrific card that features Group One stars Sealiway and Skalleti in the Prix d’Harcourt. The rains have been torrential in Paris this week and the ground is expected to be at least very soft. Judging by how few non-runners there are and hearing what trainers are saying in the build-up, I think there are some excellent opportunities to take on horses that are either making their seasonal reappearance or have major ground concerns.
12.58pm Prix Juigné
The opening maiden at 12.58pm is often one that is worth following, the Prix Juigné. Godolphin’s Mount Hotham is Classic-entered and won a schooling race last month. You only have to go back to Nikovo earlier this week to see that the form of the AFASEC races should be treated with caution, but the fact is that 11 of the 27 AFASEC winners since the start of 2017 to have run under rules won on debut.
Mount Hotham is a son of Listed winning mare Marsh Daisy that has already produced a black type filly, Light Blush. He appears to have been relatively cheaply bought at 145,000 guineas but would probably have a favourite’s chance in the opener.
Longchamp 12.58pm – No bet
2.50pm Prix Vanteaux
The Prix Vanteaux tends to lead towards the Group One Prix St Alary but this nine furlong contest was won by a proper miler in 2013, Esoterique. Paper favourite Singforthemoment is a non-runner and I’m keen to oppose Hot Queen, who made all in the Prix la Camargo and looks priced too optimistically at 9/4.
3-1 shot Tonka has won both her two starts but this is a big leap in grade for her and everything in behind her at Bordeaux last month has been beaten since. It could however be a statement of intent from connections that Barzalona has somehow managed to select her over another Fabre filly that he won on last September.
Indian Wish was a winning tip for this column in February, as she landed the Prix de la Californie against colts in style at Cagnes-sur-Mer. Back then she was described as a Guineas hope and although it was disappointing to see her beaten by Hot Queen last time as favourite, she still gave a good account of herself and was done for a turn of foot.
She ran with great credit on a soft surface on debut last October and being by The Great Gatsby, she looks better suited to this longer trip than Hot Queen and she rates as a good bet.
Know Thyself was interesting as a daughter of Galileo our of a mare that was useful in New Zealand, but Francis-Henri Graffard told Jour de Galop this week that he is concerned about the ground for her.
Longchamp 2.50pm – Indian Wish 1pt win @ 11/2 (William Hill, Paddy Power and Betfair, or 5-1 generally available)
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3.25pm Prix La Force
The La Force is the colts’ equivalent and features my best bet of the afternoon.
Dreamflight heads the market at 9/4. He holds the best formlines but he flopped in seventh in a Group Three last year when last seen on soft. Lady Bamford’s representative has also confirmed to the press that he is a good ground colt. Jean-Pierre Gauvin has a very real chance to win this with another moderately-bred spoiler, Valmer Magic, similar to his progressive colt Saonois who won the 2012 Prix du Jockey Club.
Valmer Magic won a provincial maiden this winter impressively but his neck second to Dreamflight last month was his first run in a Parisian black type race and also his first on turf. Gauvin rides him every day and believes he will cope fine with the boggy conditions, especially as he is a son of Gris De Gris. He has been supplemented for this and will stay the nine furlongs fine. His long acceleration should be particularly effective at this course too and 11/1 represents good value this morning.
Tumbler is clearly well-regarded by Carlos Laffon-Parias, who has won five races from his last nine runners, but appears under-priced this morning at 11/4 in this grade, backed in from 7/2.
Machete has been devastating recently on the polytrack and could be worth a small saver at 11-1, despite a question about the ground. Caracal could be anything but I fancy he will be given an easy race for his reappearance and his sire Zelzal wasn’t a fan of heavy himself.
4.00pm Prix d’Harcourt
In the Prix d’Harcourt, there’s not a lot to say about these other than that I think Skalleti will win and makes appeal at quotes of odds-against. He retains plenty of speed as a seven-year-old and has his ideal conditions here. His trainer Jerome Reynier is in blistering form, having saddled six winners from his last 10 starters.
Longchamp 4.00pm – Skalleti 1pt win @ 6-5 (Generally available or 11/8 with William Hill)
Tristan Wootton provides regular insight on Race Sharp and specialises in French flat racing. Since the column started 10 months ago, bets to recorded stakes and prices are showing a 47% return on investment. To read more, please click here.