Francois Nicolle was crowned Champion Jumps trainer in France for the first time in 2018 and is currently looking forward to a consecutive title in 2019 (French championship decided annually), following a successful spring with his older horses and the arrival of a very nice bunch of three-year-olds.
“I have been training in the little village of St Augustin for 25 or 30 years,” laughs Nicolle, who runs his own private training centre not far from Royan, a seaside resort that lies below La Rochelle on the Atlantic side of France.
“I used to train 50 horses, but in the last few years we have doubled that number and with them came some better horses, which allowed me to go from number five or six in the trainers’ table right to the top.”
Better horses like the now-retired champion mare De Bon Coeur, who had beaten Bapaume by sixteen lengths last year in the Grande Course de Haies d’Auteuil and who bowed out after finishing second only to Benie Des Dieux in this year’s French Champion Hurdle.
Or horses like Alex de Larredya, winner of the Grade 1 Grand Prix d’Automne in 2017, as well as stable star Bipolaire, runner-up of the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris this year, who is hoping to lift his third consecutive Grade 1 Prix la Haye Jousselin during the 48-hour jumping festival at Auteuil.
Here, Nicolle tells Liz Price of atthearces.com about his champions who are going to run at Auteuil over the 48 hour jumps meeting in November, his horses that will run at Pau during the winter meeting and some of his horses that he is hoping to bring across the Channel in the new year.
*The horses covered can now be added to your Tracker, which has been expanded to cover French racing.*