An interesting eight-race card at Cagnes today and I am looking forward to seeing Azov return in the class 1 contest (10.35am).
He won nicely on debut at Saint-Cloud in September and that first-time-out success was far from unexpected by connections. Well-touted before his first appearance on the racecourse, he was supported in the market despite a host of well-bred newcomers from leading yards in opposition. Always in front rank, he gave 9lbs and a beating to a Fabre-trained Showcasing filly that went on to finish third in Listed company a month later.
He bumped into one on his only subsequent start, in a class 2 at Chantilly. However, that winner, who was receiving 3lbs, is the Classic-entered Urgent Appeal, who made a taking reappearance earlier in the week when scoring at Chantilly, getting the better of Total Knockout and Axdavali. Azov once again showed bright early speed that day, a trait that is always a plus on the Riviera, and finished in front of a couple of useful yardsticks.
Group 2 and Listed entries last autumn are an indication of the regard in which this son of Invincible Spirit is held by his connections. The dam was thought good enough to run in Group company by Alain de Royer Dupre and is a half-sister to Group 1 winner Danceteria.
While fitness has to be taken on trust on this first outing since early November, connections had Azov entered at Chantilly (in the race won by Urgent Appeal) and the fact they are willing to make the long journey to Cagnes suggests they feel their colt is ready for action.
10.35am at Cagnes: 1pt win Azov @ 11/2 (PaddyPower, Betfair, 5-1 elsewhere)
Elsewhere on the card, Myklachi is worth a small bet in the 1m2f handicap (11.35am). It is a low-grade affair, but he is on a fair mark (now 11lbs lower than when a decent fifth at Chantilly in September) and after a couple of quiet runs, he ran encouragingly when a running-on sixth over this CD last time.
The Nicolas Caullery team are in great nick at present, with five wins and four places from his 18 runners in Cagnes handicaps since the beginning of February. The booking of Alexis Lemer in this amateur riders’ handicap also catches the eye – he is 17-69 in the past three years and his booking looks a sign of intent from the in-form Caullery.
11.35am at Cagnes: 1pt win Myklachi @ 9-1 (Bet365, 17/2 with WillHill)
Our final bet on the day in France is Master Of Science, who could be one to follow this year for Marseille-based Jerome Reynier.
The son of Intello made a very pleasing debut when third over 1800m at Reynier’s local track in November, the form of which has been well-advertised by two subsequent wins for runner-up Bobbymurphy, who is now rated 45 in France (UK 99). Reynier’s second string that day, a head back in fourth, was a good second in a Cagnes maiden earlier this month on his first start since.
Though the trip is a slight question mark (he looks more one for 1m2f+ later this year), he did travel well on debut and it is worth noting his half-brother had the speed to win over 7f at two, before going on to gain black type over 1m2f last year.
In a race that lacks strength in depth, he looks overpriced to shed his maiden tag at the second time of asking.
12.05pm at Cagnes: 2pts win, 1pt place Master Of Science @ 6-1 Bet365)