Nick Williams: hoping Urbain De Sivola can find more success in FrancePICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Williams aims for the summit with Sivola
Preview: France, Sunday ( 2.40pm GMT)
Auteuil: Prix Renaud du Vivier (Group 1 Hurdle) 2m3½f, 4yo
URBAIN DE SIVOLA (Nick Williams/James Reveley) bids to give his francophile connections their biggest success to date at Auteuil.
Having finished 11th on unsuitably quick going in the JCB Triumph Hurdle in March, Urbain De Sivola has found the prevailing soft ground and the pace of racing at the Paris venue much more to his liking and three visits have yielded nearly €58,000 in win and place prize money.
While a fourth-placed effort on holding ground in the Group 3 Prix Maisons-Laffitte at the end of September leaves him with a little bit to find with the likes of the ultra-consistent Gemix, Williams is hopeful that conditions will be more to his charge's liking on Sunday.
"I should think a few of the others have got a slight edge but we're entitled to be there," said Williams. "I would have thought heavy ground would suit him perfectly and he'll be ridden just behind the pace, assuming the favourite makes the running."
The favourite is almost certain to be Esmondo (Guillaume Macaire/Bertrand Lestrade), who produced an astonishing return to form three weeks ago when the employment of front-running tactics resulted in a 14 length demolition of his rivals in the key trial for this race.
"Going to the front allowed him to dominate last time," said Macaire. "We tried it out in the prep race and it worked well."
Prior to that Esmondo was a disappointing seventh behind both Urbain De Sivola and the aforementioned Gemix (Nicolas Bertrand de Balanda/David Cottin), who has been a flag-bearer for his young trainer.
Le Bel Anjou (Francois Cottin/Philip Carberry) comes from an in-form stable and, while his last two wins have been in chases, he also boasts some smart form over hurdles.