France’s top jumpers take centre stage at Auteuil at the weekend. Our racing expert, Mark Underhill gives us the lowdown for Saturday’s races.
Sunday’s card features the Prix du President de la Republique, a valuable Grade 3 handicap chase considered to be the French equivalent of the Grand National.
But there are several valuable prizes on Saturday’s nine-race card which gets underway at 11:05 live on Sky Sports Racing.
Prix Murat (13:35)
The feature race on Saturday is the Grade 2 Prix Murat, a 2m6f chase with over £122,000 in prize money which is due off at 13:35.
Francois Nicolle’s Figuero looks likely to be sent off as favourite. Back in November he routed the opposition to win by a distance in the Grade 1 Prix Maurice Gillois over this course and distance.
The field includes last year’s impressive Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris winner Carriacou who is also effective over this shorter trip and has the benefit of having had a spin over hurdles in March.
However, he has to give weight to all of his opponents under the conditions of this race and with his main target surely in three weeks time, he looks vulnerable here.
Figuero has marked himself down as one of the current stars of French jump racing. He already has four Auteuil chase wins to his name and won a hurdle here comfortably on his return in March when taking on older horses for the first time.
This will be his first meeting with older chasers, but he is expected to be up to the task, especially given the fine current form of his trainer who sent out five winners on Monday.
Top hurdler Feu Follet was beaten twice by Figuero over fences in the autumn and looks to have something to find despite a weights swing. Ebonite, who won the Grade 3 Prix Troytown here in March from Polly Grandchamp, could pose the biggest threat to the favourite.
A familiar name to fans of British racing among the jockeys riding at Auteuil will be James Reveley who won the French Jump Jockeys’ Championship in 2016 after relocating to France.
He looks to have a very strong chance of a winner in the Listed hurdle for three-year-olds run at 13:05 in which he rides Nimes for Guillaume Macaire.
Nimes won comfortably on his debut at Compiegne in March and given that Reveley also rode market rival Yes Indeed last time he will know well how that pair compare.
Although Nimes is reportedly partially blind in one eye, Reveley has highlighted him as one to follow for the rest of the year and with the Grade 1 Prix Cambacérès already being mentioned as a possible target.
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication.