France: De Sivola all revved up to retain his title

Reve De Sivola: will like the soft conditions

Reve De Sivola: in better shape than he was 12 months ago

  PICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)  

Preview: Saturday, France 2.45pm (live on ATR)

Auteuil: Grand Prix d’Automne (Grade 1)  3m, 5yo+

NICK WILLIAMS believes he has Reve De Sivola in better shape than 12 months ago as the nine-year-old gears up for a title defence against Zarkandar and dual French Champion hurdler Gemix.

Reve De Sivola appeared booked for a minor role jumping the last flight in 2013, but James Reveley conjured an unbelievable run to pass six rivals on the run-in.

That victory came on his seasonal bow but Williams has already given the five-time Grade 1 winner a sighter at Auteuil this time around, with Reve De Sivola finishing fifth over an inadequate 2m3½f.

Williams said: “He’s done very well since the Prix Camarthen. I was really pleased with that run and I think he is in better order than he was going into this race last year.”

Auteuil may not provide quite its usual punishing test after a recent dry spell, a fact which Williams admits may not be in Reve De Sivola’s favour.

He said: “It was heavy last year and that was a big advantage to us.”

Zarkandar finished best of a sizeable Anglo-Irish contingent when third to Gemix in the Grande Course de Haies id’Auteuil in June, after which Paul Nicholls nominated this race as a first autumn target for the seven-year-old.

The trainer said: “He ran okay at Auteuil on his last couple of runs after a long season and I’ve targeted this race for a little while as the difference in prize-money between our staying hurdles and those in France is almost embarrassing.

“Our prize-money in staying hurdles is dire, but it’s vast in France. However, it will be tough for him.”

Le Grand Luce misses the race having rapped a tendon in the Camarthen, which means French turfistes are likely to place their faith in Gemix.

The likelihood of less testing conditions will have pleased trainer Nicolas Bertran de Balanda, who gave his star a warm-up in the Prix de Compiegne before completing preparations at home at Maisons-Laffitte.

“His comeback run turned out to be quite an easy race as they only sprinted after the last,” said the trainer. “Since then we have taken our time to get him absolutely right for this race.

“It looks like we’ve been quite lucky with the weather and, while it won’t be quick ground like in September, it shouldn’t be too deep for him.”

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