Schofield steps in as Ptit Zig is sent after another French success
Grand Prix d'Automne | 3m | 5yo+ | Grade 1
The Paul Nicholls-trained Ptit Zig bids to complete the Auteuil Group 1 double over hurdles, having landed the Grande Course de Haies at the track in June under a powerful drive from Sam Twiston-Davies.
With the stable's number one rider still out of action, Nick Scholfield is dispatched to Paris in preference to good rides at Down Royal, Aintree or Wincanton.
A winner at the track as a four-year-old for Nicholls under David Cottin, Ptit Zig came from a long way back to collar Blue Dragon and Alex De Larredya in the Grande Course.
"He's won a Grade 1 at Auteuil for us before first time out and goes well fresh," said Nicholls.
"He's had a racecourse gallop and is in good shape."
The training duo of Nick and Jane Williams hold two chances with Auteuil regulars Reve De Sivola and Aubusson.
Reve De Sivola won this race when coming from another parish under James Reveley three years ago but has not been seen since winning the Rendlesham Hurdle at Haydock last February, and is likely to need the run at the age of 11 before heading to his annual date with the Long Walk at Ascot.
Aubusson came within a nose of victory under Lizzie Kelly in this race 12 months ago and put in decent performances at the track in the spring.
"We gave him a prep for this last year but it's first time out so we'll have to see," said Jane Williams. "I think we're hoping for a decent place again realistically as it looks a better race than last year's."
Home hopes rest with the placed horses from the Grande Course.
Blue Dragon has not jumped a hurdle in public since June but warmed up for this when strolling to success on the Flat at Moulins.
"He wasn't quite ready to run in the prep races over hurdles but he won very easily on the Flat and I'm very happy with him now," said trainer Guy Cherel.
With David Cottin sidelined, James Reveley takes over on Blue Dragon, whom Cherel admits takes a bit of knowing.
Alex De Larredya proved a revelation when switched back from chasing to hurdling in the spring and ran well to be second in the Prix Carmarthen last month when conceding 6lb to Utraji.
"I'm delighted with him and I just hope we get some more rain," said trainer Francois Nicolle.