Nicholls and George all set for Auteuil raid
PAUL NICHOLLS and Tom George will both harbour hopes of annexing some serious prize money from another richly-endowed card at the home of French jump racing.
Nicholls sends Ptit Zig to Auteuil in search of Group 1 glory in the Prix Renaud du Vivier (2.40pm GMT), while George will be hoping that the exciting Mail De Bievre can recapture his form in the Listed chase over an extended two miles and five furlongs 35 minutes later.
Ptit Zig rounded-off a progressive spring with a fine second over course and distance behind Diakali in June, having been third in the Fred Winter Handicap at the Festival two starts previously.
"He was second in a Grade 1 at Auteuil and we hope he has improved," said Nicholls, who balances a lack of a recent outing by employing France's champion jump jockey.
He added: "He's done a racecourse gallop with Far West but I think it's hard to win a race like this without a prep run. David Cottin rides."
Le Grand Luce gave weight away to his rivals in the two main trial races, finishing second to today's likely favourite Un Temps Pour Tout and then filling the same position behind Yankee Hill last time out.
Mail De Bievre showed a rare zest before an 18-month absence told late on in Newbury's Denman Chase on his first start for George.
That performance led owner Patrick Atkinson to supplement the son of Cadoudal for the Champion Chase, but he failed to give his running at Cheltenham, before finishing a very tired third a month later at Auteuil.
"I think he was off for such a long time that those runs affected his breathing, so we had his wind done over the summer," said George. "He's had an excellent preparation and his work's been good, we just need him to find his form. He hasn't done it for a while but he's showing all the right signs."