A weekend of quality jumping continues at Auteuil. Racing journalist Patrick Weaver, who is based in France, previews the 10-race card on Sky Sports Racing...
"A half-brother to Al Dancer, he looked formidable when scoring on his only previous start at Compiegne."
The French Grand National is the highlight of Sunday's card at Auteuil.
The Prix du President de la Republique at 14:15 is usually held in April but had to be put back a month due to the current crisis.
None of the 20 runners has raced for two months, they have just been kept in training in the hope that the valuable handicap would be rescheduled - a unique situation.
Picked up a penalty
The top weights are the only two that won their most recent starts. Felix de Giles' mount The Golden Boy picked up a penalty for winning a handicap chase at the track over a furlong and a half shorter by nine lengths from Le Mans in March. He had previously won over hurdles at Pau in January.
The French colours of Simon Munir and Isaac Souede will be in use on Shakapon and Full Glass. Munir and Souede are among the top owners on either side of the Channel but their jockeys sport red and green diamonds with dark green sleeves in France; their colours in England are two shades of green.
Shakapon has won twice over the stiff Auteuil fences and most recently won a chase at Pau. He has more stamina than most and the only time he has fallen since 2016 was at the Wall at Pau this winter.
Kapdam has raced exclusively in Graded chases since winning twice here in March of last year. He was a distant second to the top novice Figuero in the Grade One Champion Novices' Chase in November and last time out was fourth in a Grade Three, also over two miles six here. He is another with each-way appeal.
Spanish One has yet to recapture his Graded-race form since a leg injury in May 2018 kept him off the track for 18 months.
Two five-year-olds among the well-handicapped low weights that it would be criminal not to mention are Fou Delice and Fanfaron Special. They were the first two home in the Prix Nupsala on heavy here in November, with Fanfaron Special 2lb better off for a neck defeat.
The Golden Boy is improving going into the race and could well be ahead of the handicapper. At this morning's odds of 6/1 he looks a good each-way option in the day's most valuable race.
Five of the four-year-old chasers in the £130,000 Grade Two Prix Jean Stern at 15:25 have bumped into each other on several occasions. Immediately prior to the suspension of racing, King Edward pulled out a career-best to beat Al Cuarto, Dream Wish and Road Senam. The winner has a 5lb penalty for that three-quarter length win, though, so any of the other three could win on the revised terms.
Dream Wish had previously beaten Al Cuarto here in November and Road Senam before that. Go back to September and he lost out in a photo when getting 2lb from Mauricius, who receives 7lb this afternoon.
Based purely on trainer form, I suggest Road Senam as Francois Nicolle has had several winners over the last six days while the trainers of the other four have not mustered one between them.
No surprise to see Moises head the market
Moises Has can give Nicolle another success, this time in the four-year-old hurdle at 16:35. A winner here twice before Christmas, he had For Fun nine lengths back when runner-up to Grand Messe over two and a quarter miles in March. The extra 330 yards should suit the winner well, so it is no surprise to see him at the head of the market on 13/8.
For Fun's stablemate Want Of A Nail completed a hat-trick of victories here at the end of November. She has only once finished out of the first two in eight starts and has won on heavier ground than is forecast.
Gant de Velours has done pretty much everything asked of him. He was second in what amounts to the champion bumper at Saint-Cloud in November and romped home by 30 lengths here when favourite for his hurdling debut. He possibly didn't beat much but he cleared was not overawed. At 5/1 he looks a safe each-way bet.
Device the bet of the day
On the undercard, Fire Dancer should win the novices' hurdle at 12:25. A half-brother to dual Cheltenham winner Al Dancer, he looked formidable when scoring on his only previous start at Compiegne. Gizzeria, second to Gradee over track and trip in March, has each-way appeal.
The bet of the day is in the amateur riders' race at 13:00. Device won over £1million prizemoney prior to an injury that has kept him off the track for two years. There are only penalties for those that have won since January 2019, so he gets in on bottom weight despite being a cut above the opposition.
Champion trainer Francois Nicolle should take the £32,000 three-year-old fillies' hurdle at 13:35 with one of his three runners: Sainte Candy, Pamela Des Mottes, or Ladyville.
Pamela Des Mottes only has a 3lb penalty for beating Ladyville 10 lengths at Compiegne, so not surprisingly is favourite. Their stablemate Sainte Candy beat Anita Du Berlais three and a half lengths here on heavy, with Let Me Love 12 lengths back in fourth.
L'Autonomie has beaten Cotee Sud by six lengths and 18 lengths on her last two starts. One of the best mares in Europe, she is a short price to extend her winning run to six in the Grade Two Prix Leon Rambaud at 16:00.