French champion returns for one ride on 'the one to beat' at Pau
James Reveley, the first British-born winner of the Cravache d'Or since the award was inaugurated in 1958, makes a belated start to his French jumps jockeys' title defence on Sunday at Pau.
Reveley, who rides the Francois Nicolle-trained Kingalola in a Listed chase, has been out of action since breaking his left foot in a fall from Device two out when looking the likely winner of the Grade 1 Prix Renaud du Vivier at Auteuil on November 13.
He was comfortably leading the championship at the time and took the Cravache d'Or by 22 winners. Reveley is 12 winners off the pace being set by Kevin Nabet this season, and believes it will be tougher trying to defend his crown than it was winning it first time round.
"I think I can do it," he said. "Having won one, I want to keep the title, and things haven't gone mad just yet so I haven't missed as much as I could have if it'd been the spring or autumn.
"There wasn't much competition last year as David Cottin got injured before I did. I expect it to be a lot tougher this year. First and foremost I just want to get back to winning nice races."
On that note, one of the horses Reveley is most looking forward to being reunited with is the very horse from which he sustained his injury.
"Guillaume Macaire always has a lot of nice three-year-olds every year, so that's exciting," he continued. "So French won the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris last year and is going for that again, and Device is a very good horse. He'll go for the French Champion Hurdle, and the step up in trip will really be in his favour."
On his comeback ride at Pau, Reveley said: "Kingalola's the one to beat on form so I'm very hopeful."
Reveley would not be back so soon were it not for the sterling work of the team at Jack Berry House.
"I'd like to thank them publicly because they were brilliant," he said. "They were a massive help and got me back when I wanted.
"There's something similar down here in the south of France, and you get all sorts there, rugby players and the like, but Jack Berry House suited me better as it's near my parents and I could see my family.
"It was nice to be able to switch off for a bit and see everyone, but I've been out long enough. I'm raring to get back now."