Auteuil Saturday

2.15 Racing TV Grande Course de Haies D’Auteuil (Grade 1) (5yo+) 3m 1f 110y

Today’s Grande Course de Haies may not quite feature the seven Irish runners that it attracted a year ago, but raiders from this part of the world account for more than a third of a 14-strong field and there is every reason to expect an Irish victory, with the local representatives looking like a less than formidable bunch.

The five visitors, who hail from five different Irish stables, look set to dominate a race that the home team has successfully defended for ?three years, but which had fallen into foreign hands on ?six of its previous nine renewals.

Irish Point (Mark Walsh) should prove to be the best of the invading quintet. French-bred and a Grade 1 bumper winner in his native land before export to the Gordon Elliott yard, he boasts an outstanding record over hurdles, having won five races, including two Grade 1s, and finished second four times in a 10-race career thus far.

He did remarkably well to chase home State Man over what is probably a wholly inadequate two-mile trip the last twice, and proved his stamina for three miles when landing the Christmas Hurdle on heavy ground. Provided he takes to the Auteuil hurdles, he will be extremely difficult to beat.


The one raider already proven at this venue is Hewick. Shark Hanlon’s highly popular nine-year-old seems to love travelling, having won big races in both America and Britain, and again sports the blinkers he wore for the first time when finishing a fine third in the Punchestown Gold Cup just over two weeks ago.

He may find the going a little softer than he prefers, but none of the three horses who beat him in this 12 months ago are among his opponents here, and he could give Irish Point most to do.

Blinkers have also perked up Joseph O’Brien’s Home By The Lee, third in Grade 1 hurdles at both Cheltenham and Punchestown on his last two starts, and he could also go well.

The Irish contingent is completed by the Willie Mullins-trained rogue Mr Incredible, who again proved that he stays extra well when runner-up in the Midlands National at Uttoxeter in March but is no certainty to even jump off, and, from the John McConnell yard, the classy chaser Mahler Mission, who finished a fine second, clear of the remainder, in one of Britain’s top handicaps at Newbury in December but has run only once since, when losing his jockey mid-race in the Aintree Grand National.

The fact that the two top-rated French contenders are Losange Bleu, who was brushed aside by Mullins’ Gala Marceau at this fixture in 2023, and Hooligan, who was finishing fourth off a handicap mark of 130 at Hereford less than 16 months ago, suggest that an Irish greenwash could be on the cards.


Next Best: Hewick

Auteuil Sunday

3.05 Grand Steeple-Chase De Paris (Grade 1) (5yo+) 3m 6f

There are no overseas challengers for France’s biggest chase and Grandeur Nature, who returned from a long layoff to win a slightly shorter Grade 1 chase here in November, and made a fine winning comeback over hurdles last month, is a confident selection.

Gran Diose, second in that November event, may again prove best of the rest.


Next Best: Gran Diose