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Quatre Heures update

It seems from the france-galop website that the frozen off meeting a week or so ago has been rescheduled.

Quatre Heures is entered to run in the rescheduled 125eme Grande Course des Haies de Pau on Sunday. He’s fourth in a list of 37 entries with a rating of 640.

I’d like to think that we’ll wait for Auteuil but if he does run, I’ll be there with paddock comments.

UPDATE: 16 February. It does seem likely that we will be running on Sunday. Unfortunately I can’t be there but the meeting is being covered by Racing UK. It’s an 11 race card and we’re in Race 11! I hope that the ground has not cut up too badly by then. The time of the race will be announced later today.

FURTHER UPDATE: 17 February. We are now race four of nine (2.30 p.m. UK time). There are eight runners and we are joint top weight (based on recent performances). No early prices yet but I’ll provide a further update in this respect tomorrow.

Quatre Heures’ next race

Quatre Heures has his next outing in the Prix Rene Cramail (Prix Aeroport Pau Pyrenees) at Pau tomorrow (12.50 p.m. UK time).

His last outing was in bad ground and jockey Philip Carberry chose an outside route in the Prix Estrem-Rey over 3500m at the same course on 3 January. He was 8.5 lengths fourth and there’s no doubt that his performance was not as impressive as his win in the Prix Ramon-Diago (also over 3500m) on 15 December on better ground when he was at his best. However, an inside route would probably have seen him much closer and possibly winning.

Assuming that he remains in good form I expect a return to form this time out. Much will depend on the state of the ground. QH demonstrated in heavy in Navan (Jan 08) that he can perform well (3/4 length behind Clopf – 2m 1f) but, as we know, the ground in France can be very unforgiving. It’s therefore a plus that he’s in the first race but the course has seen a lot of use over the last few weeks (12 meetings already this month!).

So what about the distance? 3.8 km is 2 miles 3 furlongs. QH has no wins over more than two miles and a third over 2m 2f. However, most of those races were in much higher company and a replication of the December ride should see him comfortably home.

And what of the opposition? The favourite is Slow Game. Although strongly supported by French pundits and first in a reasonable chase at Pau on 20 December his recent races are a mix of chases and flat races. Brasilien, Al Bucq and  Ouh La La were the three ahead of us (in that order) in the 3 January race so I think that we can turn them over. Gratia Plena was pulled up in the same race but the market says that she should do better (12/1).

Sparrow du Mathan was third behind Al Bucq in his last outing at Pau on 18 December in a reasonable race. Previous form includes four wins (Sept 09 to April 11) but all bar one moderate race at Pau were at provincial courses.

La Savane is a highly tried horse and should not be disregarded. She was a winner in a chase on her last outing at Pau over 3900m but didn’t beat much in a moderate race on 31 December. However she is a 5yo with room for improvement.

Verdict: I would price Quatre Heures at 3/1 in this race. The current (undeveloped 408%) Betfair market has him at 4/1.

National Hunt racing is back!

Well, here I am, back at my my much neglected website and what’s brought me back? Two decent prizes at Market Razen tomorrow for a hurdle and a chase. It’s a frustrating time of year because the advent of autumn makes me yearn for decent jumps racing and we have all those end of the season flat races to put up with. I’m really looking forward to this season, not just to see some of last season’s hurdling stars go jumping, but because my horse is about to start a new campaign in France, but more of that later.

Our first port of call is the Prelude Hurdle at 2.20. Viva Colonia is all the rage but my preference is for King In Waiting (currently 8.2/1 on Betfair). This is a late summer race (as demonstrated by the days since last raced) and this one has had a decent break since a win on the same course in late July. With a record of 5 from 48 and career winnings of nearly £43K this would be his biggest single win by some margin but this is a very winnable race and he’s a confident selection.

Next is the 2.50 £50K chase. We’re on good, good to firm ground, so summer runners have to be respected. Ostland is a decent horse and Neptune Equester is a popular selection but I’m with Tim Vaughan’s My Moment at an attractive 15/1. The horse is fit, as shown by his Stratford outing 20 days ago, and the current Betfair price is very appealing by comparison with the overnight betting forecasts.

Both races are on Channel 4.

In the 5.10 bumper there is no point in looking beyond odds-on Magnifique Etoile by Kayf Tara out of Star Diva. This is clearly an outing he is expected to collect on the way to much more challenging races. One of those early season bankers.

I’ll let you know what a treble would earn you when I get the prices tomorrow (no price yet for the bumper).

Quatre Heures has not been out since February 2008 and is now back in his national home with Francois Cottin in France. He’s fit and ready to run. We’re eyeing a claiming hurdle race at Auteuil in France in a couple of weeks’ time and then, if all goes well, a decent race again at Auteuil in late October. His previous visits to Auteuil were disappointing but he hit the practice fence on the first try and was unsettled by false ground on the second. We’re optimistic about his renaissaince and I’ll add posts here to let you know how he gets on.

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