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Pau Preview

22 January 2021

Situated in the South West of France, Pau racecourse provides an excellent location for several of the country’s leading jumps trainers. The track predominantly operates throughout the winter months with the bulk of meetings taking place between December and February. The right-handed course features a variety of tracks, with its usual soft conditions and long galloping straight making it the perfect introduction for young horses. 

It is unsurprising then to see trainers such as Guillaume Macaire, Emmanuel Clayeux and Francois Nicolle all frequent visitors to the venue. Jockeys Jonathan Plouganou, Kevin Nabet, Bertrand Lestrade and Nathalie Desoutter are all regularly present throughout the season. Alongside top trainers and jockeys Pau is no stranger to hosting good horses especially during the early stages of their career. One of the most notable being Carriacou who had two visits to the track prior to winning the 2019 G1 Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris (6000m). Paul Nicholls recent recruit and G1 Henry VIII Novices' Chase (3100m) runner-up Hitman was purchased following an impressive 8L success in a 3300m hurdle event here this time last year. 

Pau’s figure of eight cross-country track is often a stand-out facility used by trainers in France recently advertised by the success of Easysland. The JP McManus owned seven-year-old scored four times at Pau before going on to run out a seventeen-length winner of the 2020 G1 Cross Country Chase (6000m) at the Cheltenham Festival, beating dual Grand National hero Tiger Roll in the process. 

This Sundays (24th) eleven race card features the 134th running of the G1 Grand Prix de Pau (5300m). A race which dates to 1887. Previous winners include Forthing (2017 and 2019), Monsamou (2018) and Winneyev (2016). The latter is amongst the entries for this year’s renewal and will look to enhance trainer Mme I. Pacault’s excellent recent record in the race as her sole representative. Francois Nicolle is responsible for five of the twenty-six strong field at this current stage whilst J. Ortet holds three entries and David Cottin is doubly represented. 

The Francis Nicolle trained Edgeoy will have to shoulder joint top-weight as things stand. The seven-year-old has to bounce back from a fall in the G2 Grand Steeple-Chase de Compiegne (4800m) in November. He goes well fresh and it would be no surprise if he were the pick of the Francois Nicolle quintet. Matfog was well-held in the G1 Prix la Haye Jousselin (5400m) at Auteuil towards the end of November but battled to a neck success in the aforementioned event at Compiegne. The Al Shaqab bred six-year-old is under the care of Arnaud Chaille-Chaille and a return to form looks likely in a race that should be run to suit. Ajas delivered arguably a career best when runner-up to the former and the David Cottin trained son of No Risk At All looks capable of further improvement with this stiffer stamina test a likely positive. Autorisation has earned his step-up in grade following a comfortable victory over 4000m at this venue, whilst Lou Buck’s prepared for this with a smooth victory over hurdles here last month. 

The mixed fixture also includes a 1600m Class 2 handicap on the flat worth €22,000. Declarations will close at 10.30am (Paris-time) on Friday. 

Picture: © APHR