Former Newmarket trainer Nick Littmoden moved to France less than 2 years ago, enjoying a lifestyle change that is alien to so many British trainers, for whom numbers of horses are the only way to make training viable.
Littmoden, who trains under both codes at Moulins, near Vichy, has already achieved more success than many of his counterparts shifting to France, but came good in spectacular style on Sunday when winning the €225,000 Prix du President de la Republique at Auteuil with Imperil, a race commonly known as the French Grand National, over 2m 7f.
The 7-year-old gelding, carrying 66.5kg, was gradually brought forward to dominate fairly clearly in the run-in a quintet formed by top-weight Ecoute en Tête (Ballingarry), who finished fourth, the finisher Echo de Champdoux (Saddler Maker), third a nose behind Fanfaron de Spécial (Gentlewave), the winner of the 2021 edition of the race and always in contention here. The fifth-placed Motu Fareone (Getaway) briefly looked like he might be in the running for the frame after making good headway on the rail.
Imperil had been claimed for €17,106 € by Tobiah Jones on behalf of Littmoden at Nîmes, where he'd unseated his rider at the last with the race at this mercy. Moved from Christian Scandella's stable to his current trainer in England, he won twice there and returned to France with Littmoden when the handler moved to Moulins at the beginning of the 2021 season. Since then, the horse has won four races in five outings and amassed €162,690, thanks to the €114,750 promised to the winner of the "President".
It was a first ride at Autueil for Jack Quinlan, who'll surely be looking to return.
Littmoden, meantime, has an admirable strike rate to date this year, with 5 winners from just 27 runners.
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