There's Grade One action on the seven-race card at Auteuil. Patrick Weaver previews the big race and suggests the best bets...
"The front-running tactics brought out the best in the winner and she could well follow up if Pierre Dubourg is allowed to dictate the pace from the front again."
It's French Champion Hurdle day in Paris with the €350,000 Grande Course de Haies d'Auteuil at 16:00.
Six of the last 10 winners have come from our side of the Channel: Thousand Stars winning twice, Un Temps Pour Tout, Ptit Zig, L'Ami Serge and Benie des Dieux.
Three of those winners were trained by Willie Mullins, and while the maestro doesn't have any runners this time around there is an Irish presence.
Pump can squash his Champion Hurdle rivals
Matthew Smith has kept Ronald Pump ticking over since Punchestown where he was third to Klassical Dream and James Du Berlais in the Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle.
That was not a bad effort at all, considering he had been off since failing by half a length to give Honeysuckle 7lb at Fairyhouse at the end of November.
At the 2020 Cheltenham Festival, Ronald Pump was runner-up in the Paddy Power Stayers' Hurdle, so it is fair to say he has given his best every time but that hasn't been quite good enough to gain a first Graded success.
He has been placed in all four Grade Ones he has contested.
The first three in last year's race are back again.
L'Autonomie was 30/100 that day and jumped the last in front only to be caught 150 yards out by Paul's Saga. Galop Marin was 10 lengths back in third.
L'Autonomie was third to Galop Marin and Paul's Saga when they next met in the Grand Prix d'Automne, so there is not much between them. Francois Nicolle's mare again went off 30/100 with punters forgiving her defeat. What we know now is that all her 13 wins have come over trips short of two miles six, and her only two recent defeats have come over three miles, and three and a quarter miles.
James Reveley heads the jockeys' championship after a few years in the doldrums, through no fault of his own.
The former champ rides Gex who won a valuable handicap by a short head last time - a career-best. That was over two five and a half, so he is up in distance and class as well as being on the up himself. Reveley last won the race in 2015 for David Pipe and would no doubt love to win it again but it is hard to justify tipping a horse that tips so few boxes.
I don't like the favourite - she has the class but seemingly not the stamina. I much prefer Ronald Pump each-way.
Cottin holds the key to juvenile fillies' hurdle
The €80,000 Prix d'Iena at 13:33 is Europe's most valuable fillies' juvenile hurdle at this time of year. Our three-year-old hurdlers have barely got going but the eight that line up have had 18 races over obstacles between them.
David Cottin's Matilda Du Berlais won a valuable race over course and distance last month. It was for fillies having their first run over hurdles, and there is no knowing the quality of those behind her. Her stablemate Saintamarin was seven lengths back and looks the least of her worries.
Cottin's third runner La Boetie has won less valuable races at Fontainebleau and Compiegne more impressively than Matilda Du Berlais won hers.
Sideralis came home 20 lengths clear of Lady Martaline when the pair were placed behind the best filly of her age, Les Yeux Verts. Mi Aime A Ou clipped the heels of the horse in front and fell on the flat after the third last.
Idylle De Seuil and Bellissima Girl have come up via claimers but they are certainly willing enough.
I'll go with La Boetie. Sideralis ran all the way to the line last time and has each-way appeal.
Promesse out to follow up recent course success
The French do like their fillies and mares' hurdle races. The second Listed race on the card - the Prix d'Arles at 14:50 - is for four and five-year-olds over two and a quarter miles.
A similar race run over course and distance last month was won by Belle Promesse from Hacienda with Raffles Sainte fourth. The first two meet on the same terms. Raffles Sainte is 4lb better off for two lengths.
Belle Promesse pretty much made all that day, being joined by Hacienda at the second last and regaining the lead on the run-in after being a neck down at the last. The front-running tactics brought out the best in the winner and she could well follow up if Pierre Dubourg is allowed to dictate the pace from the front again.
Garbure is back hurdling after falling in a chase at Compiegne. There is no disputing she is well in at the weights but I'm not a fan of hurdlers that have been novice chasing. Lina Rez and Haie d'Honneur have also been chasing this season but at least they haven't fallen. Garbure's recent tumble at Compiegne may have knocked her confidence.
Grand Messe has been contesting Graded hurdles Her handicap mark is now on a par with several of these but 8lb lower than what it was at the end of last year. If she regains her mojo she could win this but she is a no-no on her three runs this year.
Lola Oak is as consistent as her form figures of 14-212 suggest. She is each-way material given she has yet to run a poor race. Most recently she was runner-up to her stablemate Starlet Du Mesnil here, and that is decent form if not top drawer.