Prix Saônois. Hooking again?
10 February 2024
2023 Prix Saônois winner, Hooking
Sunday sees Cagnes-sur-Mer stage the second of four Listed races on its winter calendar. Run over a mile and open to 4 year-olds and up, the Prix Saônois also doubles up as the Final of the Polytrack Challenge.
Titleholder Hooking has not skipped a beat following the autumn break, most recently securing the first Listed of the season, the Grand Prix de la Riviera, by a comfortable margin just two weeks ago. Trained by the in-form Philippe Decouz and carrying the colours of French international footballer, Antoine Griezmann, Hooking won the same race last year before securing the Saônois by an easy 1.75 lengths, and is the obvious favourite.
Highest-rated horse in the field, Fast Raaj was surprisingly lacklustre in the Listed Prix Luthier at Deauville after having smartly won a similar event just a month earlier. One way or the other, he is rated as he is for a reason.
Jean-Claude Rouget sends out two candidates; Wally, a temperamental but endearing 7yo, secured the Class 1 Prix Adolphe Rossio, which serves as prep race for the older generation, three weeks ago after having won with ease at Pau the previous month. He has also left in Kovrov who won the 4yo prep, Class 1 Prix de Seranon. On that occasion, she beat the Listed-placed Precious Sea, whose dam is none other than 2013 Prix Marcel Boussac winner, Indonesienne.
Half-length runner-up to Wally last month, the Listed-winning Perle Rouge is one of the more dependable horses here and, while unlikely to win, must nevertheless be taken seriously.
Tempus is the lone foreign-trained runner in the field. Archie Watson’s 8yo won the Gr.3 Prix Quincey at Deauville in 2022 and will be one to watch on his return to France under Luke Morris.
Road to Grande Course de Haies gets under way
July Flower and Kevin Nabet at Auteuil