The Prix Leon Rambaud at Auteuil is a trial for the Grand Course de Haies
Rolland aiming to cut Gemix deficit with Saint
Preview: France, Saturday (1.35pm BST)
Auteuil: Prix Leon Rambaud (Group 2 Hurdle) 2m3½f, 5yo+
WHILE Willie Mullins won't be turning his attention towards Auteuil and defending his Grand Course de Haies crown until the dust has settled on the Punchestown Festival, French trainers continue along the road to refining the home defence.
Saint Du Chenet (Marcel Rolland/Jonathan Plouganou) has been the most consistent hurdler in France over the last 12 months and will be looking to build on his fine comeback second behind Gemix.
"I think he's come on from his first run back," reasoned Rolland, who is on his third-choice jockey (albeit a very able substitute in Plouganou) after Regis Schmidlin and Alexis Acker were both sidelined with injury.
"The 3,900m is a bit sharp for him and I hope the forecast rain arrives because he prefers it very soft," he continued. "Overall I'm expecting him to run well and Hopefully he'll finish in the first three."
Gemix (Nicolas Bertran de Balanda/David Cottin) enjoyed both a fitness and a weight edge over Saint Du Chenet in the Prix Hypothese.
However he was devestatingly impressive in handing out an 12 length beating and it takes some feat of imagination that his defeated rival will have come on by that much
"He's very well," said his trainer simply at Compiegne earlier in the week. "We'll know more about the Grande Course after Saturday. It depends on how he handles himself because he can take a bit of a tug, although he settled better last time."
Outside of the Hypothese form, Monpilou (Guillaume Macaire/Bertrand Lestrade) is the only other runner to be coming here off a victory, having won a Listed Hurdle here at the end of March.
Also on Saturday
Auteuil: Prix Amadou (Group 2 Hurdle) 2m3½f, 4yo
AN already confused scene among the four-year-olds became further muddled by the success of Voiladenuo (Guy Denuault/Kevi Nabet) in the Prix Pepinvast.
Whilst by no means unfancied on that occasion, Voiladenuo was hardly the unexposed model, having ran with credit throughout the winter at Pau.
From that point of view, the more sparingly-campaigned Carilo (Carlos Lerner/David Cottin) ran with great credit to make the winner pull out everything on the run-in.
The son of Dubai Destination eventually went down by a length, with his conqueror from the Prix d'Indy, Saint Firmin, a further two lengths away in third.