French Connections

Triumph Hurdle candidates for Nicky Henderson and Jessica Harrington plus a long-term Grand National prospect for David Pipe star on Laurent Barbarin's list of French imports this week.

  • Wednesday 22 January
  • Blog
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Last week I pointed out some horses that were having their first run in UK or Ireland including a 4/1 winner for Gordon Elliott at Navan in Floueur that could have a bright future ahead of him for his new handler.

This week, I have selected eight ex-French horses that are entered across the islands in the next few days, some of them also likely to have entries at the Cheltenham Festival.


ELAN DE BALME (François Nicolle >>> David Pipe)
By Cachet Noir out of a four time NH winning mare in France. Elan De Balme is a dual winner over fences in the French provinces. He is a very good jumper - watch the video of his win at Craon last August below - and was just unlucky to stumble at the second last obstacle in his last start at Auteuil whilst he was in contention for a podium position. He still is lightly-raced at six and will certainly enjoy racing over long distances over fences in the UK. Considering his jumping ability and the way he has been running in France, it may be a bit presumptuous at this stage but I could definitely see him turning into a Grand National prospect in the next two coming seasons. Let’s see first if he can take to the local fences, though I have little doubts about it.
Entered 2.35 Fakenham, Thursday

(Guillaume Macaire >>> Willie Mullins)
By Day Flight out of an unraced AQPS mare that only previous runner is a winner over jumps in France. An easy winner of an AQPS contest on the flat on his debut at Niort in September 2018, Fly Smart went on to finish second to Farinet on his hurdle debut in an AQPS newcomer contest over hurdles at Auteuil one month later. Although the winner of the race has failed to confirm since then, Fly Smart finished in front of seven subsequent scorers on this occasion including Group 1 Chase winner Figuero. This second place must be ranked as a top-class performance and after the son of Day Flight was given a year off by his new connections, he will certainly be a horse to keep closely on the radar on his reappearance as he has the potential to become a top-class performer.
Entered 2.45 Fairyhouse, Saturday - Possible target the Supreme Novices' Hurdle

GIN ON LIME (Guillaume Macaire >>> Jessica Harrington)
By the successful stallion Doctor Dino, she was a very impressive winner of her only start in France at Clairefontaine over hurdles last July (video below), scoring by nine lengths and without being asked the question at any stage under a very confident Felix De Giles. This was a performance of a very good AQPS filly and this is no surprise at all to see her entered in Graded races in Ireland, including the Spring Juvenile Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival. She showed a devastating turn of foot that day and would have definitely scored by a much wider margin had the race been run at a faster pace. She has been given some time off since this success and will have only benefited from it. I’m really looking forward to seeing her run on this side of the pond.
Entered 2.10 Fairyhouse, Saturday - Possible target the Triumph Hurdle

 (Daniel Riou >>> Gary Moore)
By Buck’s Boom and out of a dam that is a sister to three NH winners in UK. He is also a full brother to Enki Baba, a three-time winner in the French provinces that excels in cross-country chases. He was exported to the UK a couple of months after he finished fourth of thirteen in a French bumper at Morlaix, a small venue in Brittany. He has the background to do well over fences and given his breeding one day in cross-country chases. Very difficult to assess on his hurdles debut in UK and I believe his starting price will be the best guide.
Entered 4.20 Fontwell, Sunday

MONTE CRISTO (Jean-Philippe Dubois >>> Nicky Henderson) 
By the successful Montmartre and a half-brother to several winners ((including hurdle Group 3-placed Linda’s Charm), he was brought along nicely by his French trainer (who is originally a top-trainer in trotting racing) and got off the mark in a handicap hurdle at Auteuil last October on his fourth appearance. He beat a couple of useful hurdlers on this occasion. Monte Cristo has progressed with every start in France. He will take a significant step up in class if he is to compete in a Graded contest here but has untapped potential and is worth keeping an eye on, especially since he is trained by the master Nicky Henderson.
Entered 12.40 Cheltenham, Saturday - possible target the Triumph Hurdle


TAP TAP BOOM (Patricia Butel & Jean-Luc Beaunez >>> Alastair Ralph)
Started his career on the flat in UK under George Baker before being bought after winning a couple of claimers in France. He won a couple of condition races over hurdles at Auteuil for his new connections in 2018 and was third in a Group 3 hurdle in March last year. He ended his French experience by a second place in a claiming hurdle at Compiègne in October. He has proved a valuable servant so far and should enjoy a change of scenery back in the UK now.
Entered 2.30 Uttoxeter, Saturday

QUIANA (Christophe Ferland >>> Gary Moore)
By Derby winner Pour Moi out of a maiden mare by Dylan Thomas. A three-time winner on the flat in France (including two claimers) from 1m1f to 1m4f. She acted well on good or good to soft ground so far. Seemed to lack a turn of foot and will probably enjoy running over extended trips in future. Her pedigree does not give any indication if she will succeed over jumps but in the hands of Gary Moore, she could be a good recruit and here again, her starting price will be the key factor.
Entered 2.55 Doncaster, Friday

WE RUN THE NIGHT (Guillaume Macaire >>> Ben Pauling)
By Sri Putra and out of a dam that won three small races on the flat in the provinces, he is a half-brother to three winners in France including Jazz Melodie (Listed-placed on the flat) and Samsara (seven victories over jumps in France). He won all his three starts in Eastern France at Nancy, two over hurdles and one over fences. All victories were pretty easy but he beat mainly claimers. Once again, he is typical of a very well-managed career by Guillaume Macaire. He has yet to face proper opposition but will certainly be interesting to follow over here in UK, but chasing would probably be more his game judged on the way he acted on his winning debut in this code last year.
Entered 4.10 Cheltenham, Saturday, 3.20 Fontwell, Sunday & 3.15 Kelso, Monday

French Connections
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