Gemix: French champion hurdler returns to actionPICTURE: Scoopdyga
Gemix the highlight as action returns to Auteuil
Preview: France, Sunday (1.30pm GMT)
Auteuil: Prix Juigne (Group 3 Hurdle) 2m2f, 5yo+
REIGNING French champion hurdler Gemix is the attraction as Auteuil repons its doors following the winter break.
Nicolas Bertran de Balanda's runner embarks on his title defence against talented opposition in the Group 3 Prix Juigne (1.30pm GMT), the six-year-old entire's first start since a bitterly disappointing effort at Cheltenham in December.
"He did all his running too soon there but he seemed to come back with no ill-effects," said Bertran de Balanda earlier this week.
Gemix is unlikely to have things all his own way over the relatively sharp trip of two miles and two furlongs, with the Marcel Rolland-trained pair Lord Prestige and Saint Du Chenet the highest rated among nine opponents.
Bertran de Balanda continued: "Gemix seems very well and we've had no hold ups with frost but, it is hard to be confident against the opposition and on the likely heavy ground."
The other Group 3 on the card sees 12 go to post for the Prix Robert de Clermont-Tonnerre (2.45pm GMT), a first step on the long road to the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris in May.