Alex Hammond: Siskin to stay?

Wednesday 20 May 2020 13:00, UK

Siskin in winning action at the Curragh
Image: Siskin in winning action at the Curragh

Sky Sports Racing's Alex Hammond reflects on the recent action in France and tries to read between the lines after interviewing Ger Lyons and Richard Hannon.

As we wait for the resumption of British racing, hopefully on June 1, France continues to fly the Tricolour keeping the European racing show on the road.

The picture has changed slightly with the news on Tuesday that the French Government have moved the goalposts and racing in so called 'red zones' can no longer take place, despite that not being an issue initially.

That rules out the likes of ParisLongchamp, Chantilly and Auteuil amongst others, in the short term. France Galop, their ruling body, have acted quickly though and implemented Plan B, so those meetings that may have been lost, have quickly been relocated. That's great news for us as we start to get a handle on the action there.

We have enjoyed some superb and informative races since May 11 and it was a delight to see jumping return to Auteuil at the weekend.

There were some notable performances to take forward including in the feature Prix Murat, a grade 2 chase that should give us some pointers to the Grand Steep, the French Gold Cup, which will take place in June this year at a venue still to be decided after Auteuil was put back in lockdown.

The race was won last year by Carriacou who finished third in Saturday's race, but it was winner Ebonite that impressed most of all with a slick round of jumping over the huge fences at the Paris track. She was epic.

More on this story

I've been lucky enough to visit Auteuil and the big ditch that is part of the chase track is enormous! I've stood in the ditch and tried to reach from one side of it to the obstacle, but couldn't. It's bigger than The Chair at Aintree.

Anything that can make it look easy is incredibly athletic and that's what she did for winning jockey Felix de Giles, she must have given him some buzz. Feu Follet was another to watch after his decent run in 2nd.

Another horse to take out of Saturday's card was Heros D'Ainay who won the listed 3yo Hurdle on his racecourse debut.

Not only did he win, but he flew home to join an illustrious roll of honour that includes 2018 winner Pic D'Orhy who went on to win the Betfair Hurdle after joining Paul Nicholls.

So if any owners out there have very deep pockets he'd be an exciting addition to the British racing scene. My Sky Sports Racing colleague Jamie Lynch tells me that after this performance the horse is already rated high enough by his friends at Timeform to win a Triumph Hurdle!

There's been plenty for flat racing fans to enjoy too and I was covering the action from Lyon-Parilly last Friday where one performance stood out.

The first race was for unraced 2 year-olds and it was won in good style by a filly called Princesse De Saba for trainer Andrea Marciallis. That doesn't tell the whole tale though. She was very inexperienced and swerved as the stalls opened, giving many lengths away in the process.

Maxime Guyon let her take her time and get back on an even keel and she flew when the penny dropped. She will have learned loads from that and is definitely one for your tracker. Her trainer has made a flying start with his 2 year-olds and is one to watch at this stage of the season as they are obviously very forward.

On Tuesday night's show on Sky Sports Racing I was lucky enough to chat to some great guests. Trainer Ger Lyons has a wealth of talent to run when Irish racing gets underway on June 8 including leading Guineas hope Siskin.

He reported his unbeaten colt to be in great form and it sounds like he has really come to himself in the last 3 weeks. He has the option of the English 2000 Guineas or staying at home and running in the Irish 2000, but it sounds like that decision is still to be made with potential travel restrictions for personnel returning into Ireland the main stumbling block.

The way the rules stand at the moment, jockey Colin Keane would have to self-isolate for 14 days on his return from England and with racing just getting going again, that wouldn't be ideal for his regular rider.

Lyons said originally the Newmarket classic would have been his preferred option, but it's now not a straightforward decision, a decision which I guess will lie with owner Khalid Abdullah and his racing manager.

One thing Siskin's trainer did say, is that he doesn't think the mile will be a problem and that he expects him to stay on what he's been showing him recently at home.

He's 25/1 with Sky Bet for the Newmarket race on June 6 and 3/1 joint favourite with Arizona for the race at the Curragh on June 13. According to reports Aidan O'Brien's Coventry winner Arizona is flying, so much so that when an overhead drone was deployed to record one of his workouts for the owners, it couldn't keep up with him. As Lyons told us on Tuesday evening, if that's the case, he'd sack the drone driver!

Richard Hannon also came on to the show to talk about the unbelievable talent he has to run in 2020. I won't go through them all, but he told us group 1 winner King Of Change looks magnificent and could be one of the best he's trained.

He's on target for the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot for which he's 5/1 favourite with Sky Bet. He named 3yo colt Manigordo as an unexposed horse to watch and of his 2yo's Etonian has been showing up well at home.

Billesdon Brook is still in training at the age of 5, although there are no plans for her yet and he thinks Threat gives himself every chance of staying a mile as he doesn't pull. Threat is 16/1 with Sky Bet for the 2000 Guineas.

One thing is for sure, when racing does get underway again, we will be thoroughly spoiled.