GORDON Elliott will saddle only the second French National Hunt runner of his career today when sending Grade 1 regular Irish Point into battle for the French Champion Hurdle (2.15) at Auteuil.

Officially run as the Racing TV Grande Course de Haies d’Auteuil, it promises to be the biggest stamina test that the Cheltenham and Punchestown Champion Hurdle runner-up to State Man will face. He did pass the test with flying colours, however, when upped to an extended two miles and seven furlongs in the Jack de Bromhead Christmas Hurdle.

With Jack Kennedy suspended, Mark Walsh rides the Robcour-owned six-year-old for the first time.

Elliott told The Irish Field: “There’s brilliant prize money on offer. I’ve been to a sale there before but it’ll be my first time racing at Auteuil - I didn’t make it over when we had a runner before with Bayan [who came sixth in a Grade 3 in 2015]. We’re looking forward to it.

“Irish Point is in good form. He’s been running over two miles lately but did win over just shy of three miles at Leopardstown over Christmas. It’s obviously a very good race we’re going into this weekend.

“I think with the pace he’s been showing over two miles, he might feel like he’s nearly in second gear back over three miles now. I think the style of the race could suit him. He’s done nothing wrong all year.”

There is plenty of Irish interest in the €390,000 prize. Hewick, fourth in the race last year, is out to build on that performance for Shark Hanlon, Mahler Mission flies the flag for John McConnell, Home By The Lee travels to France for the first time for Joseph O’Brien and the unpredictable Mr Incredible is Willie Mullins’ sole representative in the feature.