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Le Spectacle of the French jumping programme, the Group One Grand Steeple Chase de Paris (15:30), is the highlight of on Sunday’s €1.5 million card at Auteuil.
It’s an immensely competitive race, where any one of the top six in the betting could take the coveted French Gold Cup. With soft ground in May and Rachael Blackmore’s participation in the feature, it adds extra flavour to an already mouthwatering eight-card. There are three Group One races throughout the afternoon and I reckon punters could be in for a particularly lucrative day.
I have opted for a different approach this week and have put up a NAP, along with my four best bets across the remainder of the card.
The French version of the Foxhunter’s Chase kicks off the card and it could give young pilot Thibault Journiac a day to remember as he partners DALAHAST for his cousin and all conquering trainer David Cottin.
Placed in a similar event last autumn (with Journiac in the saddle), Dalahast takes the eye in what is a very open contest. The eight-year-old excels around the 4,400m trip at Auteuil and was once considered good enough to run in a Group One by Cottin. With his yard in such blistering form, it is hard to see Dalahast out of the first three.
Anyone who backed the Guillaume Macaire/Hector de Lageneste-trained TONGUETTED last time out will most probably still be feeling sick! The three-year-old was almost forced through the rail by stable mate Impressive and was most certainly robbed of victory, but he can gain his revenge here.
It is likely to be a very strongly run race with both Surprising and Paradiso in the field and that can help Tonguetted (who can be a little keen) to settle. A very interesting event, where the winner generally goes on to be a Group One horse.
Four-year-old steeplechasers in the month of May can always be a bit risky, but YES INDEED has already proven that he has all the attributes to develop into a leading chaser. Jockey James Reveley merely nursed the giant chaser around to success over this course and trip last month, where he produced an impeccable round of jumping.
Held in high regard by his entourage, Yes Indeed could claim a maiden Group One success here, although he will have to hold off the challenges of both Gold Tweet and the rapidly improving Le Listrac in this an interesting race.
We have seen multiple back-to-back winners of the Grand Steeple Chase de Paris in recent years – So French (2016, 2017) and Mid Dancer (2011, 2012) – and that although this is possibly the strongest renewal of the French Gold Cup we have seen for decades, the Louisa Carberry trained DOCTEUR DE BALLON can keep the trend going.
The dual Group One scorer was produced a phenomenal performance and a superb round of jumping when he stormed to a 5-length victory last year, he really dies produce his best over the extended trips. Louisa Carberry openly said to the French media that Docteur De Ballon was not at 100% fitness before his return to action last month and he finished a very pleasing second over a much shorter trip.
He will have to compete with the challenges of three David Cottin-trained rivals in Le Berry, the Rachael Blackmore ridden Ajas and General En Chef who will make the task a little more difficult. But, if Docteur De Ballon puts in the same performance in his two most recent successes then he will be very difficult to beat under jockey Bertrand Lestrade, who could have a good afternoon.
I honestly believe that HERMES BAIE is the biggest NAP I have seen all season at Auteuil. Pitched in here against horses that are inferior (in terms of official ratings) to himself, the François Nicolle-trained gelding should claim a first Group One success with ease.
Hermes Baie beat the majority of these when landing the Group Two Prix Amadou last time out and was merely pushed out under a hands and heels ride from jockey Bertrand Lestrade. The softer ground shouldn’t pose any problems and with a clear round of jumping, Hermes Baie should join the illustrious role of honour for the race – which includes the Willie Mullins-trained pair of Diakali (2013) and Footpad (2016).
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