Life is good for Bel and Macaire in Troytown
Report: France, Sunday
Auteuil: Prix Troytown (Group 3 Chase) 2m6f, 5yo+
BEL LA VIE (Guillaume Macaire/Bertrand Lestrade) emerged from a gruelling edition of the Prix Troytown as potentially a major player in the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris.
The best of his generation over hurdles at four, Bel La Vie returned from a year on the sidelines last autumn and now looks to be fulfilling that early promise, after striding clear of a useful yardstick in Rubis Sur Ongle on punishingly heavy ground.
"I was worried above all about him getting caught up in an incident but he's had a great trip and won't be carrying any bad memories into the Grand Steeple-Chase," said Macaire.
"He jumps well and goes on all types of ground. Having said that he might be even better on this [heavy] going because he's such a good jumper and that makes more of a difference in these conditions. Above all he's a very good horse."
Guy Cherel saddled both the runner-up and third-placed Tir Au But, who worked his way back into the race after making a mistake at the Riviere des Tribunes on this, his first try at the Auteuil chase course.
Less fortunate was Rochmi Du Mont, who repeated his bad error of a fortnight ago at the same fence and was already well behind when unseating David Cottin at the rail and ditch.
Also on Sunday
Auteuil: Prix d'Indy (Group 3 Hurdle) 2m2f, 4yo
Saint Firmin (Robert Collet/Jonathan Plouganou) showed marked improvement from his comeback run to cause something of a surprise, easing clear of Viviane Royale in the closing stages.
Having been only seventh when carrying top weight in a Listed handicap here just a week ago, Collet's charge appeared to relish both the strong pace set by Singapore Sling and the testing conditions.
"It was my first time aboard but the trainer told me to get him switched off because he was a bit free last time," said his jockey, fresh from his second place aboard Sirene D'Ainay at the Cheltenham Festival.
The angular Plouganou is closer to six feet tall than can be considered ideal for one of his chosen profession but lacks nothing in the style department.
He continued: "It went like a dream and, despite one small mistake, he came there very easily turning for home and did it well."
6-4 favourite Victoire Des Borde failed to pick up in the home straight and came home a very tired-looking fifth.