FRANCE: Mid Dancer bids for third win in Grand Steeple
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By Scott Burton
Mid Dancer (Christophe Aubert/Sylvain Dehez) defends the crown he won back memorably 12 months ago after a hiatus of four years.
Aubert has followed the same route to the big day as last season with the eleven-year-old, who would become only the third triple winner in the race’s history.
“Mid Dancer is in very good form as he didn’t have a difficult race last time,” said Pegasus Farms’ racing manager Herve Barjot earlier in the week. “Mid Dancer is in top condition and physically just as good as he was last year but he is a year older.”
Rubi Ball (Jacques Ortet/David Cottin) has been the heir apparent in France ever since his duels around Auteuil with Long Run.
Having beat all but Mid Dancer in his first attempt at the Grand Steeple last year, Rubi Ball then repeated his success in the Group 1 Prix La Haye Jousselin in November.
But Ortet’s preparations this spring have been undone by sloppy jumping and the seven-year-old has not been seen since taking a crunching fall in the Prix Murat at the beginning of May.
“I think he’s at 100 per cent of his abilities and he’s schooled very well in the mornings, so I have no worries on the jumping front,” said a defiant Ortet.
The trials have allowed several legitimate contenders to emerge from the shadow of last year’s principals, notably Pistolet Rouge (Guy Cherel/Cyrille Gombeau), winner of the Murat and the Prix Troytown.
Emmanuel Clayeux also has two strong representative in Net Lovely (David Berra) and Rhilaco (Christophe Pieux), the first two home in the Prix Ingre three weeks ago.
“They have both recovered well and my main worry on Sunday is traffic problems with such a big field and possible bad luck,” said Clayeux
Net Lovely has won her last six starts at Auteuil and could become the third mare to win in the last ten renewals.
“She continues to improve with every race,” continued Clayeux. “We tried not to give either of them too hard a race last time and I certainly think there’s room for Rhialco to improve.”
Jean-Paul Gallorini sends out three for the race, with Ruby Walsh is the new partner for 2009 winner Remember Rose.
“If the ground is softer that will definitely help Remember Rose,” saidGallorini, who also saddles Shannon Rock (Thierry Majorcryk) and Quarouso (Francois Pamart). “Ruby is a real champion, especially in steeplchasing, and I’m proud to have him ride my champion.”
David Casey has been booked to partner outsider Chavoy by trainer Thomas Trapenard and said: “It’s a great bonus to be having a ride in the Grand Steeple. I’ve seen this horse run and he seems to stay well so we should have a good chance.”
View the original article at the Racing Post