French racing resumed after a two-month break with a star-studded card at Longchamp – what did we learn on the opening day?
Now is not the time to be backing Andre Fabre blind
Tropbeau was a gutsy winner of the Prix de la Grotte for the 30-time champion trainer and is a serious contender for the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches.
Fabre had suffered a few reverses earlier on the card, none more so than when odds-on Victor Ludorum was beaten for the first time in the Fontainebleau.
But he didn’t earn those titles in a raffle and he knows the biggest prizes are still to come, when his horses are odds-on to be primed to run for their lives.
Victor Ludorum himself spoiled his chance by racing too keenly – with the freshness out of his system, he should still run a big race in the Prix d’Essai Des Poulains.
Shaman could be a name to remember in 2020
Maxime Guyon was seen at his best on the 6-1 shot who got the run of the race in the Prix d’Harcourt.
But the four-year-old, runner-up in the Poulains last season, certainly looked to improve for this step up to 1m2f and he could have a decent future over middle-distances in 2020.
That said, Arc third Sottsass is unquestionably better than this first-time-out effort suggests – he improved enormously for a run last season and is not one to write off.
Jockeyship is key
Tactical nous is always at a premium in the slowly-run races for which France is famous and siding with a jockey whose positional sense has not been dulled by the shutdown is key.
French champion jockey Maxime Guyon proved the point straight away with a fine effort in the opening Prix de Saint-Georges.
He always had Batwan well placed and timed his effort perfectly so that he got first run on his rivals and just enough left to hold on.
And Pierre-Charles Boudot produced a masterclass on The Summit in the Prix de Fontainebleau, pretty much stealing the race from the front on an unconsidered outsider.
What was all the fuss about?
Whether or not French racing should return was debated almost up to the off and the resumption only went ahead thanks to the approval of president Emmanuel Macron.
But everything looked to work in fine fashion, the action was as competitive as usual and the absence of a crowd detracted little from the excitement for the off-course viewer.
Wearing face masks before, during and after the races certainly did not stop jockeys from doing their job and getting the best out of their mounts.
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