Brexit might be just around the corner, but the link between racing in the UK, Ireland and France has never been stronger and in this new column on attheraces.com I'll be aiming to highlight points of interest for racing fans on both sides of La Manche!
Some weeks we will be looking forward to the feature races in France, some weeks we will be looking back at eyecatching performances from the past and in others, as is the case this week since we are in the heart of the jumps season, I'll be highlighting horses that are racing over here that began their racing lives in France.
Don't forget that archive video of many races in France can be viewed here on attheraces.com, as we have been archiving French races for over a year.
This week I've picked out six French imports that hold entries over the next few days.
BLACKO (Augustin Adeline De Boisbrunet >>> Alan King)
Second to a son of Frankel in his last start on French soil at Lyon-Parilly over hurdles last October, he made quite an impression when he scored on his UK debut at Taunton on 30 December. This progressive son of Balko is entered on Saturday at Ascot; it will be a significant step up in grade but he has improved with each run so far and certainly has plenty more to offer.
Entered 12.40 Ascot, Saturday
CHRISALDY (Newcomer French-bred with Denis Cullen)
Exported to Ireland as a foal, this son of Muhtathir is the fourth runner out of a maiden mare by Lost World. One of his brothers, Coudefoudre (by Martaline), was trained in UK by Venetia Williams but never won a race from ten starts on the flat and over the obstacles.
Entered 4.10 Navan, Saturday
EEYORE (Guillaume Macaire >>> Lucinda Russell)
A full sister to smart performer Virak who won eleven races for Paul Nicholls. She showed some ability over jumps in France but still failed to win a race in four starts for Guillaume Macaire. Beaten 15 lengths on her chase debut at Vittel in August 2018, she was pulled-up in her first attempt in UK at Haydock a month ago after more than 500 days on the sidelines. The heavy ground probably did not help her that day and as her French form suggests, she may act better on good to soft ground. She will certainly come on from her comeback run and could be worth a look in if the ground is not too testing at Ayr on Sunday.
Entered 12.40 Ayr, Sunday
FIDELIO VALlIS (Laurent Viel >>> Paul Nicholls)
An interesting son of top NH stallion Saint Des Saints who showed promise in two starts in France before he was exported to UK in May last year. He is a half-brother to Chirico Vallis who won four races over jumps in Ireland and England. Runner-up in an AQPS hurdle contest at Auteuil on is debut over jumps, he finished in front of some decent horses that day including Fou Delice, a very promising horse trained by François Nicolle, and Fort De L’Ocean (second twice over fences in UK last month). Fidelio Vallis disappointed on his first run in UK at Uttoxeter but he pulled hard that day and his saddle slipped forward. He still has potential to do well in the UK.
Entered 4.15 Taunton, Saturday
FLOUEUR (Michael Mescam >>> Gordon Elliott)
This French-bred AQPS son of Legolas had an unusual start to his career as he made his debut in Ireland at Sligo where he finished third in a bumper in April last year before he was sent to France where he won both his starts over hurdles for trainer Mickael Mescam. He looked impressive when he scored at Auteuil in November (see video below) and without a doubt should be a serious player on his first start for new trainer/owner Gordon Elliot. Likely to jump off at a very short price if appearing at Navan on Sunday.
Entered 12.45 Navan, Saturday
HOMER (André Fabre >>> Nicky Henderson)
A dual winner on the flat over 1m4f and 1m6.5f for André Fabre last year, he was well-placed by his ex-handler to take the third place in the Group 3 Prix de Lutece for stayers at Longchamp in September. He looked very much one paced on his hurdle debut at Kempton for his new connections and will have to show a lot of improvement if he is to win the Grade 2 contest for which he is entered at Ascot on Saturday; favourite Goshen beat Thyme White by 34 lengths at Sandown last month and the same Thyme White finished ¾ lengths ahead of Homer at Kempton.
Entered 12.40 Ascot, Saturday
ROYALE PAGAILLE (Francois Nicolle >>> Venetia Williams)
This son of Blue Bresil got off the mark over hurdles at Pau two years ago. He showed good aptitude over fences when runner-up to Spanish One on his debut in this code at Auteuil in March of the same year but was unable to challenge in his next outing in a Group 2 Chase for Four-Year olds. Second in a Listed Chase at Auteuil in his final start in France, he returns from fifteen months on the sidelines and still, I believe he could be an interesting contender against two rivals only. A half-brother to Group 2 chase winner Royal Astarania and out of a dam that was Group 2-placed over hurdles and finished fourth in the Group 1 Grand Prix d'Automne, he has all the right credentials to become a smart chaser on this side of the Channel.
Entered 2.50 Chepstow, Friday