Malberaux starts out on Crystal Cup trail
Preview: France, Sunday (3.25pm GMT)
Pau: Prix Gaston de Bataille - Grand Cross de Pau (Listed cross country chase) 6yo+, 3m7f
ONE of the most remarkable cross-country exponents of recent years, Malberaux (Philippe Cottin/Jerome Zuliani) bids for a fifth consecutive win in the race which marks the opening round of this year's Crystal Cup series.
After appearing as good as ever when scoring over his favourite course at the beginning of December, Malberaux's usually exuberant jumping let him down on his next start when a serious mistake at the double bank known as the Parc à Moutons (sheep pen) put him out of contention.
Cottin's veteran then succumbed to younger legs after the last over an inadequate 3m1f.
"I was really pleased with his last run, he was taking lengths out of them at each obstacle," regular jockey David Cottin told Equidia.
He misses the ride due to a broken shoulderblade but remains confident of family success. Cottin said: "Any rain should help and this is his trip."
Sulon (Patrice Quinton/Joel Blandamour) got the better of the sprint after the last in that final prep race, the Prix John Henry Wright, defying 30-1 odds in the process.
Sherlock (Emmanuel Clayeux/Gaetan Olivier) jumped immaculately in second and, if staying the extra three-quarters of a mile will be a danger to all.
Jonathan Plouganou was aboard that day but sides with stablemate Sanjaka De Thaix, who won at the track before Christmas.