All you need to know ahead of France's biggest handicap chase of the year
Montgeroult tries for back-to-back wins in the country's 'Grand National'
Prix du President de la Republique (Grade 3 handicap chase) | 5yo+ | 2m7½f | SKY
Montgeroult, who dominated his rivals by ten lengths for trainer Marcel Rolland in the race often referred to as the French Grand National 13 months ago, attempts to become the first two-time winner of the President since Quo Vadis scored in 1956 and again two years later.
Despite its nickname, the Prix du President de la Republique more closely corresponds to a race like Newbury's Ladbrokes Trophy, in that it is a high-class staying handicap which can sometimes throw up a candidate for top Graded races later in the season.
With the ground – officially very soft on Saturday – riding quite fast by Auteuil standards, the ability to travel is going to be paramount here, although hold-up horses will still have a chance if the leaders go off too fast.
Other notable runners include Fou Delice, who looks dangerously well weighted for the dominant Francois Nicolle stable, having run well to be fifth in the Prix Troytown behind Saturday's Prix Murat winner Ebonite.
Angelo Zuliani takes over from the talented youngster Baptiste Dubourg on Fou Delice and the five-year-old looks to be the leading hope of Nicolle's two runners, a fact unlikely to be missed by bookmakers and pari-mutuel backers alike.
Mickael Seror is building a fine reputation as a target trainer and Felix de Giles rides his top-weight The Golden Boy, while the yard is also represented by No Risk For You at the other end of the handicap.
British racefans may remember Full Glass from his time with Alan King. He has been off for 456 days but looks feasibly weighted and will gain every assistance from the vastly experienced Nathalie Dessouter.
What the connections say
Francois Nicolle, trainer of Shakapon and Fou Delice
Shakapon doesn't have too many options. He took a nasty fall when going well in the big race at Pau and he has to cope with the outer track here. He has place chances. He is a classy horse and he’ll like the ground, although he is probably better over a little shorter. I have more confidence in Fou Delice, who has already done well round here. He ran very well here last time and knows the track well. Angelo [Zuliani] hasn’t ridden him before but he is very straightforward. I think he has a decent chance.
Marcel Rolland, trainer of Montgeroult
He seems well to me, he has worked well and I think the ground will suit him as it looks like he will have similar conditions to when he won last year. Against that he is 4kg worse off than last year. I have put the blinkers back on and I hope he will run well. I’m not saying he will win but I hope he can be in the first four. He is a horse you can’t leave too much to his own devices and I have plenty of confidence that his new rider, Nicolas Gauffenic, can keep him up to his work. He has been in to ride him several times in the morning and I think they suit one another.
Francois-Marie Cottin, trainer of Cafertiti and Guyonne
I am hopeful that Cafertiti can improve on his recent runs. He will be wearing cheekpieces for the first time. I'm trying to get him concentrating because he's very laid-back – you don't really see his full potential in the mornings. I'm hoping the cheekpieces will help and he has the advantage of having been around the course before. I'm hopeful about Guyonne's chances too. She's out of the handicap, carrying 3kg more than she should do, but she's a good-ground horse and that's what motivated our choice to run. She's in great form, has a small weight and all lights are green.
Dominique Bressou, trainer of Chahuteur
He has had a lot of hard races and doesn’t always want to put his best foot forward these days, which is why I wanted to run him fresh. He has a little bit less weight than when he was third last year and that, plus being fresh, could be a help.
Louisa Carberry, trainer of Surdoue De Ballon
He stays all day, he jumps very well and he acts around Auteuil. The problem is that he will set off okay before trying to drop himself out of the race. He will need pushing and shoving for a long way before flying home after the turn in. He is just very idle. Olivier Jouin is a very strong jockey but doesn’t know him. As long as he can keep him somewhere within range he’ll be fine. Olivier has to put up a little bit of overweight but I wanted a strong jockey rather than someone who could just do light.
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