When the news broke earlier this week that both Muthmir and top juvenile sprinter Tiggy Wiggy were not lining up for the Prix De l’Abbaye, connections of Sole Power must have been rubbing their hands with glee.
Is this the year that they finally land the last European Group 1 sprint that the seven-year-old has yet to get his hooves on?
Well, they certainly won’t have a better chance to take the Longchamp’s Sunday opener.
The 10-time winner has attempted to pick up this race three times in the past but has yet to finish better than 3rd when unlucky not to get a clear run.
However two of those of races were on either soft or heavy ground, and with the surface in France set to be a more solid one this time round, his chances become more solid with it.
But at 5/2, it’s questionable as to how much value Edward Lynam’s charge represents.
And when you look at the record of jollies in the 5f contest, favourite backers have had a pretty rough ride over the years.
Just three market leaders have obliged in the past 20 years, with a whopping seven finding one other runner too strong in the race.
And with Sole Power’s usual style of running being coming late on from the back, he could easy come into traffic problems as he attempts to weave his way through the big field.
So where does the value lie?
Stepper Point (8/1) was dead last in this race last year, and has a very patchy record when making the trip to Longchamp, apart from a Listed win at the track way back in 2011 that is, and he is looked over.
And while Tiggy Wiggy sits this one out it is Cotai Glory (10/1) who represents the two-year-olds this year.
Were it not for unseating George Baker with the race in the bag at Doncaster Charlie Hill’s charge would be a Group 2 and Group 3 winner.
But what he beat (and would have beat) those day’s is sketchy to say the least. Of the subsequent 19 runs from his opponents in those races, just two have returned with victory, and one of those was Beacon who took advantage of his mishap at Donny.
Instead preference goes to a couple of the home team in Paris.
Catcall (14/1) looked to be heading for victory in the race 12 months ago, but idled in front and was beaten a neck by the fast finishing Maarek.
The gelding took the Group 3 Prix de Saint-Georges over course and distance in May, and while he finished back in sixth last time out on Trials day, he did have to overcome trouble in running that time.
Regular partner Olivier Peslier is set to take the ride, and at 14/1 looks a good each way price with a French master on his back.
You could do worse than taking a look fellow French-trained chance Rangali (14/1).
Henri-Alex Pantall’s chestnut finished 2l ahead of Catcall at Chantilly in June and then went on to finish the same distance behind Sole Power in the Nunthorpe Stakes.
A bit of rain would probably enhance his chances, but at nearly five times the price looks well worth backing to reverse that form with the Irish raider.
All odds and markets correct as of the date of publishing
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