Report: France, Wednesday
Auteuil: Prix William Head (Listed Chase) 2m7½f, 5yo+
TWO years ago Storm Of Saintly completed his preparation for what would be a victorious assault on the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris when winning the Prix Ingre under Arnaud Duchene, who was standing in for the suspended Vincent Cheminaud.
With Cheminaud now concentrating on the Flat and Bertand Lestrade on the sidelines, Duchene was once again the go-to man for trainer Guillame Macaire.
This had been billed as something of a penalty kick ahead of time but Alary looked to have Storm Of Saintly’s measure for most of the run in and Duchene’s victory punch crossing the line may have been a mixture of relief as much as joy.
“He is very good over his fences and I think he is stronger than he was at five when he won the Grand Steep’,” said Duchene.
Storm Of Saintly was running over Auteuil’s outer chase course for the first time since his Grand Steeple-Chase victory two years ago but cleared the fearsome ‘Juge de Paix’ with the minimum of difficulty.
“The Rail Ditch [Juge de Paix] was a slight query beforehand but I rode him into it with confidence and it posed no problem,” said Duchene. “He looked beaten half way up the run in but he really responded when I shook the reins.”
This Saturday’s 2016 edition of the Prix Ingre looks set to feature several of the biggest names in French chasing.
Reigning Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris hero Milord Thomas, Shannon Rock and Vezelay were among ten entries remaining after Wednesday’s forfeit stage for the Ingre.
Also on Wednesday
KOTKIKOVA made it two wins from two over hurdles since returning this spring from injury enforced absence.
Widely-regarded as the best four-year-old chaser in France in 2015, Kotkikova was sidelined for seven months after a fall in the Prix The Fellow last September.
Having done no more than was required here in accounting for Tara River by two and a half lengths, Kotkikova may now be sent back over fences.
“We will all discuss it but I think she might go back chasing sooner than I had envisaged, because she is beginning to get a bit low at her hurdles,” said trainee Jean-Paul Gallorini.
One possibility would be the Grade 2 Prix des Drags in June, though Gallorini was not keen to be drawn.
He said: “The difficult thing is to choose the right race for her. With a champion you can’t just run them anywhere. There is definitely a big margin for her to progress.”
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