Ruby Walsh: My 3 fancies to follow in France this weekend

He may be out of the saddle and into the pundit’s chair now, but there’s nothing Ruby doesn’t know about the runners at Auteuil this weekend.

Ruby Walsh pose

Comments

Auteuil Saturday 16:00 – Grande Course De Haies D’auteui Grade 1 Hurdle

Paul Townend has chosen Benie Des Dieux and I would have gone for her too. Going up in trip to three miles will suit her, the only slight worry I’d have with her (and Mr Adjudicator) is it’s just 15 days since they ran at Punchestown.

That’s quite a quick turnaround when you are looking to win a Grade 1 race. The Auteuil track is fair, but it’s quite stiff and horses really have to stay to win around there.

We’re up against local hope De Bon Coeur, she is a brilliant mare and no doubt she’ll take a bit of watching if she ever pitches up at Cheltenham.

Elsewhere, Bapaume had form here last year when he finished second to De Bon Coeur – way ahead of Yorkhill. The low weight will really suit Mr Adjudicator and the trip should as well, he could be a dark horse for this.

It will be difficult for some of them though. Melon was a bit disappointing at Punchestown, but the step up in trip might bring about the improvement that’s required. Meanwhile, Yorkhill has been very lightly raced this season, with just the one run behind Acapella Bourgeois in Clonmel. Going left-handed will suit him too.

Willie’s won this race four times and I won it twice on Thousand Stars, there’s huge prize money on offer here at the end of the season.

Auteuil Sunday 15:25 – Zeturf Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris

This is actually the French Gold Cup and Willie Mullins runs five challengers. There’s never been an Irish winner and only one English victor, that I can remember – that was Mandarin.

It’s a very good race on Sunday. Willie sends Rathvinden and Pleasant Company who ran in the English National, Burrows Saint who won the Irish Grand National, as well as Total Recall and Acapella Bourgeois.

Acapella Bourgeois is a sound jumping, strong stayer and so is Pleasant Company. Total Recall could run a big race if he comes back to his form of last season.

Rathvinden ran a blinder in the English National and there’s no reason he can’t kick on from that as it was only his second outing of the year.

Finally, I believe Burrows Saint has been improving at a rate of knots all season! He has chase form in France and that will be a big help to him. Paul Townend has chosen him and he may be the best of ours.

These are all horses that were running in handicaps in Ireland, but this is a proper Grade 1 race. If they can get in the money, it will be a fine effort.

Auteuil Sunday 16:08 – Prix Alain Du Breil

We run French Made in this one. She stayed very well in Fairyhouse to win, but wasn’t quite good enough in a Grade 1 at Punchestown after that.

That may have been 15 days ago, but the French Champion Hurdle is over three and a half furlongs further – that extra distance could suit her.

She’s a good jumper and could well run a big race here.

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