Ray of Hope runs a clinic on winning in Cagnes-sur-Mer
Chicken dinner! Ray of Hope gives us our first win of the year (and of the Cagnes meeting). Good old Ray absolutely loves it down here and the wide draw was no problem at all. He was in control from start to finish and won without a single crack of the whip.
From Gina Rarick on Facebook
Ray was cursed with the worst draw on the 2000m fibersand course in Cagnes, 16 out of 16. However, Mickael Forest, who knows the horse perfectly, ran it just right, taking control of a field that never threatened. It was a demonstration by the jockey and horse team that controlled events from beginning to end.
Ray has now run 11 times in Cagnes-sur-Mer, with an incredible record of 4 wins*, 4 seconds, and a 6th. Only twice was he out of the money.
*Ray actually won 5 races but was distanced once to second.
Bleu Astral holds on for the win!
Coralie Pacaut held on to win with Bleu Astral. Crossing the finish line first, by a short nose, ahead of Magic Mystery who was finishing very strong. Coralie managed the ride very well taking advantage of an open rail to pick up ground on the backstretch, then gain and hold on the lead until the end.
This marks Bleu’s first win since his long layoff because of an injury in 2017, and a job well done by all of the team to bring him back to form. Special credit goes to Cat Ternynck and Kimara Hoste for helping him in his rehabilitation.
Bleu Astral disappointed his High Street Racing backers on Saturday as he faded to finish last of eight in the 17,000-euro Prix de General Saint Didier, a 1600-meter (one-mile) claiming race on the Cagnes-sur-Mer fibersand track.
Sent off at an unpromising 35-1 but away alertly under Guilain Bertrand in the amateur riders race, Bleu was soon tracking the leaders in third place, less than two lengths off a strong pace. After three furlongs he took the lead, but hopes were short lived as he fell back into third midway around the turn. Entering the straight he had nothing left, ultimately finishing 10 1/2 lengths behind the victorious Sterling Run.
“This was an extremely disappointing effort,” said trainer Gina Rarick. “He never took a breath during the race and he never relaxed. We’ll have to drop him into the lower claiming ranks now.”
A 2000-meter (1 1/4-mile) race fibersand later in the meeting could be Bleu Astral’s next start, although a return to soft or heavy turf, a surface over which he won twice last summer in Britain, might yet throw some light on the subject. For the moment, there is no turf race in the program for him.
Bleu Astral makes his third start for High Street Racing at Cagnes-sur-Mer on Saturday, but his first in the syndicate’s yellow and green colors, when he goes in a 1600-meter (one-mile) claiming event worth 17,000 euros on the Hippodrome de la Cote d’Azur’s fibersand track.
Entered for a claiming price of 20,000 euros, the Astronomer Royal 4-year-old will be making his third start for trainer Gina Rarick. An improved effort last time in a similar event over an inadequate 1300 meters (6 1/2 furlongs) saw him finish ninth of 15, beaten by just 6 lengths. Further improvement is expected on Saturday when he returns to his favorite distance of a mile, over which he won his last two races in Great Britain in August.
Following a 14-hour van ride accompanied by his High Street Racing stablemate Grey Sensation and four other Gina Rarick trainees, Bleu Astral arrived in Cagnes last Friday morning and has settled in well. A sharp Wednesday morning workout on the main track with Ray of Hope, a two-time winner at Cagnes-sur-Mer last winter, sets him up well for this contest.
Bleu Astral will carry the the number three saddlecloth and break from post 2 in the race for amateur riders. Mr. Guilan Bertrand will be in the saddle for the first race on the card with post time scheduled for 12:45pm (11:45 am GMT); 7:45 am (EST).
Grey Sensation will debut High Street Racing’s new yellow and green colors on opening day of the Cagnes sur Mer winter meeting on Saturday when he takes on 14 rivals in the Prix du Val Carei. The 1600-meter (one-mile) handicap, with a value of 19,000 euros will be a drop down in distance for ‘Grey’, who will carry co-highweight of 60 kilos (130 lbs.).
Trainer Gina Rarick was unconcerned on both scores. “He’s run well at this distance in the past and the weight will not be a factor as there is only 3 lbs.separating top from bottom.”
Alexis Badel returns to the saddle on Grey Sensation, having ridden him twice before but not last time when he finished a strong closing third in a 1900-meter handicap (one-mile, 1 1/2 furlongs) at Deauville. Grey Sensation will break from the 12 post in the 15-runner field. He was scheduled to arrive at Cagnes sur Mer early Friday morning after a 14-hour van ride from Maisons-Laffitte along with High Street Racing’s second horse, Bleu Astral, and four other Gina Rarick trainees. The fourth race on Saturday’s card, the Val Carei will go off at 2:15 pm (1:15 pm GMT, 8:15 am EST).
High Street Racing twin standardbearers, Bleu Astral and Grey Sensation, are headed to Cagnes-sur-Mer for the winter meeting at the Hippodrome de la Cote d’Azur, where the syndicate’s brand new yellow and green colors will be unveiled on Saturday.
The occasion will be the Prix du Val Carei, a 1600-meter (one-mile) fibresand handicap worth 19,000 euros in which Grey Sensation will fly the High Street flag. A fast closing third in his last start in a 1900-meter (one-mile, 1-1/2-furlong) fibresand handicap at Deauville on Dec. 11, the Aussie Rules 4-year-old has maintained his form over the Maisons-Laffitte gallops since then and a good effort is expected in his Cagnes debut.
Both Grey Sensation and Bleu Astral will be loaded into the van for the 945-kilometer (547-mile) trip south on Thursday afternoon along with five other Gina Rarick trainees. The team is scheduled to arrive at Cagnes between 6 and 7 a.m. on Friday.
“Both horses are training well,” Gina reports. As for Bleu Astral, “His objectives are a claiming race on Saturday, Jan. 23 and a conditions race on Monday, Feb. 22. He’ll have another one in between those two somewhere.”
Both horses worked on the straight gallop Saturday morning, and both showed they were ready to race. “They’ll get one more work before getting on the truck as long as the weather leaves the track in good shape. If not, they’ll shipp off this work and stretch their legs down south.”
Bleu Astral showed marked improvement in his second outing for High Street Racing at Deauville on Monday as he finished well to finish ninth in the Prix de Balme, overcoming a number of obstacles in the process.
Cutting back to 1300 meters (6 1/2 furlongs) and breaking from post 14 in the 15-runner claiming event while carrying co-highweight of 61.5 kilos (135 lbs.), ‘Bleu’ broke much more alertly than he did last time, but was taken back by rider Alexis Badel, who angled him over to the rail in a ground-saving move. Still next-to-last approaching the straight, ‘Bleu’ was closing well as the line drew near. In the end he finished 6 1/2 lengths behind the pacesetting winner Super Nothing, who clocked a quick 1:16.80 for the 1300 meters.
“This was a much better effort,” said trainer Gina Rarick. “He was much better out of the gate and carried his head better. It was a promising performance and he should do well next time at Cagnes-sur-Mer going left-handed at a mile or even longer.”
Gina reported that Bleu Astral had come out of the race in good order and suggested that he may be even better when switched back to turf.
Considering his wide draw, the heavy impost which saw him spotting his 14 rivals up to 22 lbs., a 6 1/2-length defeat to a winner who was carrying 15 lbs. less than the High Street Racing inmate must be considered an encouraging performance. At a longer distance and carrying a more competitive weight, there is every chance that Bleu Astral will continue to improve.
Bleu Astral makes a quick return for High Street Racing on Monday when he goes in the Prix de Balme on the Deauville fibresand course. The 1300-meter (6 1/2-furlong) claimer is worth 20,000 euros (10,000 euros to the winner).
The race is three furlongs shorter than Bleu Astral’s High Street racing debut at the same track on December 11 when he finished tenth in a 1900-meter (9 1/2-furlong) conditions race, and is also a step or two down in class.
As trainer Gina Rarick explained: “I would have preferred a distance closer to a mile, but we don’t have another entry that is suitable at the moment, so we’ll have to takes this one. I have added sheepskin cheek pieces to help keep him straight and focused. We should look at this race as essentially a second training gallop counting toward his eventual handicap mark.”
“‘Bleu’ did a nice piece of work Thursday,” Gina continued, “and I expect to see a better showing than last time.”
Bleu Astral has been entered for a claiming price of 20,000 euros but Gina does not expect him to be claimed. Carrying highweight of 61.5 kilos (135 lbs.) as he continues to carry a French penalty due to his two victories last summer in Great Britain, he has drawn post 15 in a field of 16 three-year-olds. Post time is 12:15 pm (CET), 11:15 (GMT) and 6:15 am (EST). Alexis Badel retains the ride.
Bleu Astral’s first race for High Street Racing at Deauville on Friday resulted in a tenth-place finish, and while that may be disappointing on the face of it, there are a number of positives to be taken from the effort.
Slowly away in the 1900-meter (one-mile, 1 1/2 furlong) Prix de Villepelee on fibresand, Bleu Astral quickly moved up towards a bunched up group at the front, while drifting a bit left under rider Alexis Badel. Never far behind through the backstraight, he faded late as Badel rode him out to the finish. Sent off at 16-1, ‘Bleu’ came home 15 lengths behind the victorious One Foot in Heaven.
“This was a learning experience,” said High Street trainer Gina Rarick, “and we learned something. He needed this race as he hadn’t run since August 28, and he needs a stronger pace than he got today. He came out of the race fine. Before Cagnes-sur-Mer next month, we’ll look for another race at Deauville at 1500 meters (7 1/2 furlongs), which is closer to the one-mile races he won in Britain. We need to get three French races into him before he is given a handicap mark.”
Badel sounded an optimistic note. “He’ll be fine. He has ability,” he said. “I’d ride him again.” The rider also suggested that ‘Bleu’ would do better on a left-handed track like Cagnes-sur-Mer.
One other factor to take into account is that in carrying co-highweight of 59 kilos (130 lbs.), Bleu Astral was spotting his twelve rivals up to 12 lbs., thanks to the odd conditions of the race which dictate that he had to carry a penalty for his two victories last summer in Britain, races that were clearly of a lower value than the Villepelee. There were no earnings gleaned today, but there is promise for the future under different conditions.
High Street Racing will have its first runner at Deauville tomorrow (Friday) when Bleu Astral takes on twelve rivals in the Prix de Villepelee, a 1900-meter conditions race on fibresand worth 29,000 euros, 14,500 euros to the winner.
Purchased for 12,750 guineas at the Tattersalls October Horses-in-Training Sale, the 3-year-old son of French 2000 Guineas winner Astronomer Royal will be making his first start since August 28 when he completed a British double while landing a one-mile conditions race on heavy turf at Ffos Las.
On Friday he will be stretching out an additional 1 1/2 furlongs against a rather accomplished field. Bleu Astral has been working well of late on the Maisons-Laffitte gallops, and while trainer Gina Rarick expects a good effort, expectations of victory right off the bat may be premature. First time out we are looking at this race as a re-entry point to determine future races.
Post time is scheduled for 12:30pm (CET), 11:30am (GMT), 6:30am (EST) for American early birds. Bleu Astral will break from an ideal draw of four in the field of 13. Alexis Badel has the ride.