The Point-to-Point season is winding down, and summer fixtures are rarely making the heart beat faster, but a former inmate of Newmarket did British racing proud, when Imperil stayed on into fourth in France's richest Jumps race, the Grand Steeplechase de Paris at Auteuil yesterday.
Recently, this has been a fixture largely ignored by British and Irish trainers, yet with eye-watering prizes and soft ground, it's worth hanging out for. The Irish were as strong-handed as they could have hoped, with Willie Mullins fielding several, Emmet Mullins Noble Yeats and even a Czech runner hoping to sneak some euros.
But the French are at their best against horses they have bred and sold abroad. Daniela Mele became the fourth lady trainer to lift the coveted prize with Rosario Baron under Johnny Charron, whose effort at Cheltenham in the Stayers petered out. It was a tight finish, with another French horse, Gex, runner-up a second year in succession for Emmanuel Clayeux, a neck down at the line.
Imperil, a graduate from handicap company and winner of France's richest handicap at Auteuil a few weeks ago, ran on to be a creditable fourth. Nick, who has been training in France little more than a couple of years, told France Galop, "What a fantastic horse! I knew he would cope with the extreme distance. I was delighted with his last performance as the distance was too short for him. We'll be back next year! Maybe we'll mount a cross-Channel raid with him!" He chuckled, "This is great for a young French trainer like me..."
And so it is, Nick. We're dead proud of you.
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