The concept

Welcome to Week One of the French Racing Diary! We’ve had a fantastic reception to Race Sharp since starting it earlier this year and couldn’t have expected how popular French Racing would be with the English-speaking public. Our weekly diary will take a look at some of the major stories in French Racing and include some light-hearted takes on what we’ve either seen or heard recently.


Barzalona on a charge

There is no stopping Mickael Barzalona is there. As we noted in last Saturday’s tipping column, Barzalona has a great deal of regional support to keep building on his tally of winners outside of the Fabre and Godolphin barns. Since the beginning of November, almost every other runner has hit the first three for the in-form pilot. At Toulouse last week, he won the final Group race of the season on Ambition from a wide draw and also made all in the Quinte.

He can do everything right now. His five-timer yesterday at Marseille-Borely included a conditions race for Race Sharp bettors and the Grand Prix feature on a handicapper! He has four today at Marseille-Vivaux.


Theleme vs Hermes Baie – Le Flop

The Sunday match between Theleme and Hermes Baie was hotly anticipated, but as is often the case with these big head-to-heads, it was a non-event. Locked together in the betting at a shade of odds-against in the UK markets, Hermes Baie hadn’t read the script and jinked on the flat with a circuit to go.

Take nothing away from Theleme, an impressive hurdler who is by a six furlong stallion Sidestep, but the way he fluffed the penultimate obstacle made me think the result could have been different without the earlier incident.


Swedish flavour at Le Mans

A weak card today at Le Mans is given a small piece of interest in the opening maiden. Three-year-old filly Chef La Arras is Swedish-bred and appears to have raced just once last summer in Norway at Ovrevoll. She was in stable of Niels Petersen up until June this year and although she must have had her problems, the decision of her owners to move her to France intrigues.


For sale: Sure-fire winner

The weekend win of Rock Boy must be a pointer to Perfect Liaision, who goes under the Arqana hammer today (page here). The Vadamos filly has French premiums, is rated 36 and should repay some of the investment back with a provincial maiden win before Christmas.


New kid on the block, Virgo Celestin

Unfortunately there was no international betting on the race, but Virgo Celestin converted a penalty kick last Saturday at Nancy. Sent off at 2/5f by internet PMU bettors, Virgo Celestin made it 2-2 over fences on Saturday and is unbeaten in five racecourse starts.

His October win over Saint Pair was boosted at Compiegne on the same day and this gelded son of No Risk At All looks like he could go to the top of the chasing tree.


PMU Chief in Marseille

The interim PMU boss, Emmanuelle Malecaze-Doublet, who comes from a marketing background, enjoyed the gala card at Marseille-Borely yesterday. No doubt her ear will still be ringing today, as there is a proposal to take well-funded PMU fixtures away from Marseille-Vivaux to achieve a fairer geographical distribution of flat racing opportunities across France.


Parchemin goes back to school

Fifth to St Mark’s Basilica in the French Guineas, Andre Fabre’s Parchemin won a Listed on his next start but has been off the track all summer and autumn. He has finally been given an entry and will be handed a start at Saint-Cloud on Tuesday, only it’s in a schooling race. He will line up against stablemate Pimento, second in the Prix Djebel, though you can expect both to be given very tender rides by their teenage jockeys!