18 horses in search of the Grail of the obstacle

Qwho will win the Grail in the Grand Steeple-Chase of Paris Sunday at Auteuil? The favorite Gex, 2nd last year, Carriacou, winner in 2019, or one of the 16 other exceptional jumpers, thoroughbred or AQPS (other than thoroughbred) who will have to jump 23 obstacles without committing a fault legendary over six kilometers in almost seven minutes.

In this spectacular marathon race endowed with 900,000 euros, the jockeys form an extraordinary couple with their mount.

The horse must trust its rider and vice versa to overcome obstacles of record size, such as the dreaded rail ditch and fence, or “justice of the peace”, which requires a jump of five meters, and the tribune river. , crossed twice with a leap of eight meters.

favorite gex

Bertrand Lestrade will try to win a fourth coronation in the saddle on the favorite Gex, a 7-year-old resident of Emmanuel Clayeux. He won the Prix Murat, a preparatory race, and finished 2nd in the event in 2022 under the saddle of James Reveley.

“The jockey is more experienced than the horse, that’s a plus. Bertrand knows how to handle pressure and everything that goes with it?”, said Emmanuel Clayeux, his trainer.

Isabelle Pacault for a double

Isabelle Pacault, based in Maisons-Laffitte, is the first female trainer to have won the race thanks to her champion Carriacou in 2019.

She will try to achieve a double with him or Métasequoia, the rising star of her team, 2nd behind Gex in the prestigious Prix Murat on April 8.

Guillaume Macaire for an 8th coronation

Guillaume Macaire, record holder of victories in the race with seven victories, will saddle Spes Militurf ridden by Kévin Dubourg and Altesse du Berlais piloted by Baptiste Le Clerc to try to win an 8th title.

“We lost 1 and a half to 2 months of preparation because of the strangles virus. We had a lot of horses affected”, commented Guillaume Macaire during a videoconference.

“Spes Militurf does not have many commitment solutions given its earnings but we have the merit of running. Altesse has already done 4,400 meters easily, so the distance will not bother her. The important thing is above all that they manage each other well during the course,” he added, calling himself a challenger. “There are a lot of runners, everything is possible. Even if we are short of work, if we are 7th it does not matter. This race is the Holy Grail”!

François Nicolle in search of a first title

Poly Grandchamp, 11 years old, will try to make his experience and form speak for themselves.

It remains on a victory on April 29 in the Prix Ingré, preparatory to the Grand-Steeple. Her other resident, the 6-year-old mare Starlet du Mesnil, “is an exceptional jumper. The only problem with her concerns the distance, she has never approached it”, said François Nicolle, still in search of a first title. .

Willie Mullins for Ireland

Irish coach Willie Mullins will have two cartridges, including Franco de Port, 3rd last year. “The longer the distance, the better he is. He is a horse that can be upbeat but the French obstacles have calmed him down. He has also progressed. Paul Townend will ride him,” said Willie Mullins, who is having an extraordinary season with more than 230 victories and dreams of a first title.

Carefully Selected, he “is a great horse, a typical Irish steeple-chaser”. “He had leg problems and was out for three years. He is in very good health. He is a calm horse, he likes long distances. The obstacles at Auteuil should not be a problem for him”, hopes Willie Mullins. He fears his nephew’s horse, Noble Yeats, who will be among the other horses in sight.

As for Frenchman David Cottin, a former crack jockey, he can also dream of a first title as a trainer with Général en Chef who finished fourth last year.

20/05/2023 14:08:28 – 
        Paris (AFP) – 
        © 2023 AFP

2023-05-20 13:53:53

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