In Great Britain, Emmanuel Clayeux is known as the cross-country chase specialist whose contenders in the Cheltenham Cross Country Chases are always worth following.
In France, the softly spoken trainer, who is based in the little-known village of Vaumas, which lies a three-and-a-half-hour car ride south from Paris and two hours west of Lyon, is above all known as a very enthusiastic horseman.
Horses from his yard are just as successful in the major chase or hurdle races, as they are in the cross country chases, but stemming from a background of three-day eventing, he says: “I enjoy the aspect of schooling horses and the dressage involved. And I would say that Cross Country chases are my favourite races.
“However, the reason I come over to England with a lot of Cross Country Chasers has more to do with the fact that these type of races are more accessible to us. It’s a different story for the major hurdle races and big chases that are more demanding and you need some seriously good horses if you want to win them.”
A seriously good horse that could have won him a major race in the UK, is 2019 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo, who started his career at Clayeux’s yard before he was sold to be trained by Willie Mullins for Mrs J Donnelly. Clayeux has based his business model on selling his horses and hence has no regrets but takes immense pride in Al Boum Photo’s achievements.
Here, he talks to Liz Price of attheraces.com about the horses he is planning on bringing over to Cheltenham this season, as well as some of the horses that will travel to Pau in the winter.