Grey Sensation (number 16 pictured above) earned his High Street Racing shareholders their first check at Cagnes-sur-Mer on Monday when he finished encouragingly to get up for fifth place in the 26,000-euro Prix de Roussillon, a 2000-meter (1 1/4 mile) handicap on the fibersand course.
Fifth place in the race was worth 1,300 euros, but more importantly was the style with which the 4-year-old son of Aussie Rules did it. Towards the rear for most of the way,the 12-1 Grey Sensation was short of room entering the 3-furlong straight. Gradually angled out by Alexei Badel, he was finishing fastest of all at the end, where he was just 1 1/4 lengths behind the winning favorite, Polkarena.
This was a performance that hearkened back to Grey’s third-place effort going 100 meters shorter at Deauville on Dec. 11, and had trainer Gina Rarick singing his praises.
“He’s a really consistent horse, a really nice horse,” she said., “and he loves this distance. My only regret is that he got stuck as the bottom weight (53.5 kilos, or 118 lbs.) in the second division of this handicap. But for one pound in the weights he would have been in the much easier third division, which he would have won.”
So there are a number of positives to take from Grey Sensation’s second outing for High Street Racing. Moreover, his handicap mark will remain the same after today, offering even greater encouragement for his next outing at the Hippodrome de la Cote d’Azur.
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.
High Street Racing’s Grey Sensation makes his second start of the Cagnes-sur-Mer winter meeting on Monday when he squares off against 15 rivals in the 26,000-euro Prix du Roussillon, a 2000-meter (1 1/4-mile) handicap on Fibresand.
Both trainer Gina Rarick and rider Alexei Badel were agreed that Grey was in need of a longer distance after his sixth-place finish last Saturday in a one-mile handicap. In his previous start at 1900 meters (1 3/16 miles), he had run what was probably his best race to date when finishing strongly to be third in a 1900-meter (1 3/16-mile) handicap.
So a return to about 10 furlongs should prove beneficial.
Badel will be back in the saddle again on Monday when Grey Sensation will carry lightweight of 53.5 kilos (118 lbs.) and break from post 11 in the 16-runner field. Post time for the Roussillon, the third race on he card, will be 2:50 pm (CET); 1:50 pm (GMT); 8:50 am (EST).
Grey Sensation came home sixth of 15 in his Cagnes-sur-Mer debut on Saturday in the 1600-meter (one-mile) handicap, the Prix du Val Carei on Fibresand. Towards the rear after breaking from an unfortunately wide number 12 draw, he made up some late ground to get within 2 1/4 lengths of the victorious Bucentaire, who covered the distance in a quick 1:38.18.
Sent off as the 2.40-1 favorite on the opening day Cagnes card, Grey Sensation was perhaps compromised by a fast early pace and the relatively sticky ground produced by the new Fibresand course at the Hippodrome de la Cote d’Azur. The sharp pace of the race was confirmed in the next event, a good conditions race which was run .26 of a seconds slower than Grey Sensation’s.
Trainer Gina Rarick said: “The way he ran today shows he’d be more comfortable at 2000 meters (1 1/4 miles), and Alexis Badel agreed. He may go next in a handicap at that distance on Jan. 25.” In his previous race last time race at that distance, Grey Sensation had finished a fast finishing third at Deauville. A return to what appears to be a distance he now finds preferble should result in an improved effort.
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.