French challenger Facteur Cheval all set for red-hot Sussex

There will be a continental flavour to the Qatar Sussex Stakes next week as French raider Facteur Cheval is set to take his chance in the red-hot Goodwood contest.

It will be a long journey to the Sussex Downs for the four-year-old, with trainer Jerome Reynier based near Marseille in the south of France.

However, having produced a career best when denied by a head in the Prix d’Ispahan in May, connections are keen to pick up a share of the £1million prize-fund on offer, en-route to their main objective for the second half of the campaign, the Woodbine Mile on September 16.

“Our main goal for the fall is the Woodbine Mile and we needed something to tick him over,” said Barry Irwin, CEO of Team Valor, who own the gelding in partnership with Gary Barber.

“We know this is going to be an insurmountable task, but the timing is right and he is improving, so we are going to send him and see what happens.”

Facteur Cheval has won five of his 10 career stars with his biggest victory coming in the Prix Perth on his final outing last year.

Although he has failed to add to his tally this season, the son of Ribchester has held his own in three high-class events and connections retain plenty of faith in Facteur Cheval, who will be partnered for the first time by Maxime Guyon in the Qatar Goodwood Festival contest.

“Obviously we’re probably going to be running against Paddington and you can’t go into it thinking we’re going to win,” added Irwin.

“But we’ve got a lot of faith in this horse, he’s had a lot of bad luck and we’re hoping we’re going to get a better go of it this race.

“He’s going to be ridden by Maxime Guyon and he has a lot of ability. He just needs the space to run in, once he gets going he’s pretty good.”

Irwin hopes Facteur Cheval will fare better than Star Of Cozzene, who was sent to the Sussex Stakes in the early 1990s in search of testing ground and found the undulations of Goodwood too hot to handle.

“I ran a horse there in the same race in 1992 called Star Of Cozzene,” he added. “He was one of the best horses we have ever had.

“He was fantastic over here in America and I got the bright idea to send him to Europe because he loved heavy ground. He never won a race there, he placed a couple of times but it just never happened.

“When we ran him at Goodwood, he had never run without toe wraps before and he just slid down the hill, he must have been 25 lengths off the lead at one stage and ran sixth. So I know what a difficult place Goodwood is.”

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