French National Hunt racing is becoming a very attractive alternative to the over-inflated point-to-point sales.
With that in mind, I have put together this list of French imports to the UK and Ireland who could make their mark in the upcoming Jumps season. This is Part 2, which is perhaps a little bit more of my own opinion, these 4 horses didn't win the usual races at Auteuil that you would associate with National Hunt recruits that are bound for the UK and Ireland. However, in there own way each of them have been eye-catching races during their time in France and all 4 retain loads of potential now that they have crossed the channel.
Monte Igueldo - Oliver Greenall - He finished 2nd at Auteuil on his only start in France when trained by Francois Nicolle. That form is yet to be really tested, but the time was decent and Monte Igueldo was one of the only horses to make up any ground from the rear, finishing just a length behind the winner who made all. That winner, Sonigino is now with Paul Nicholls (covered in Part 1 of this series) and I don’t think there is very much between the 2 of them.
Dan Astbury from the Greenall team was good enough to tell me that "Monte Igueldo is indeed with us and cantering away now after having a short break, he is a fine looking horse who is a very good mover and fingers crossed should be a very exciting novice hurdler for the season. I’m sure you agree he was a big eyecatcher on his only start when the trainer thought he would need the experience, since then Steven Beetham bought him off Olivers father and luckily he is in training here at Stockton Hall. The plan will be to start him off in a novice hurdle some time in October, ground permitting and should hopefully be plenty to look forward to.”
Houka D’oudairies - Gary Moore - This horse could be a bit special. She caught my eye when winning on debut at Durtal in April before winning again at Vichy in May. She produced an exceptional time figure when winning the AQPS bumper at Vichy, with a final circuit time 3s faster than any of the other races on the card. Her form so far would suggest that she will be suited by better ground, though her pedigree suggests she should handle cut in the ground as well. Her Dam won twice over fences in France and given the size and scope of her, I would imagine that we will see her over a fence at some point. She cost €110k at the sales for Nicolas Bertrand de Balanda (who is an exceptional judge) and will be moving to the UK to be with Gary Moore.
Nicolas told Jour de Galop “The filly is pleasant. I had spotted her in Durtal and the fact that she went in again has won me over. She's got size, she's going to make good physical progress and I've seen her in action over the obstacles where she shows real promise. She's going to go to Gary Moore's in England”
Nicolas was good enough to tell me recently that she is doing well at Gary Moores, she is currently having a break so we might have to wait a little longer to see her, but I think the wait will be worth it.
Historique Reconce - Willie Mullins - This is a pick based more on gut feeling rather than what the horse has actually achieved on the track. As a half-Sister to Chacun Pour Soi, you might expect a career record that's better than 0-5. Although she has run to a decent level in France, it is fair to say that she has been a shade disappointing. Her dam was a Grade 3 hurdle winner at Auteuil and we might have expected a bit more from her. However, via the same connections as her illustrious half-brother, she is following the right path and I think it is worth noting that Chacun Pour Soi only won 1 of his 4 starts in France before the switch to Ireland took his form to another level.
Her first trainer, Emmanuel Clayeux explained to Jour-de-Galop that he teamed up with the Irish Champion trainer on this sister of the champion Chacun Pour Soi (Policy Maker), five-time winner of Gr1 steeplechases.
“Historique Reconce is a great late filly who could adapt well to the Irish program, rich in mares races, especially among novices. History Reconce will benefit from a patient approach and Willie Mullins will give her time. His first objective will no doubt be to look for some black type. She will then have several possible outlets depending on the development of her career”
Foxy Girl - Henry De Bromhead - She finished 2nd in the Prix Wild Monarch for David Cottin at Auteuil on her only start. The winner of that race, Matilda du Berlais, won a Listed hurdle on her next start to boost that form and although the field was very well strung out on the soft ground, Foxy Girl kept on really nicely all the way to the line. By Saint des Saints, she comes from a very good National Hunt family and her dam, Far Burg, won twice over obstacles in France and is a full sister to Far West, who won the Grade 2 Triumph hurdle trial at Cheltenham and finished 2nd to Our Conor in the Triumph itself in 2013.
Another horse to be sold with the help of Nicolas Bertrand de Balanda, he said after the sale “Foxy Girl was bought by Brian Acheson (Robcour) and will be training at Henry de Bromhead's. She started very well in the Wild Monarch: that day, I think she did it more on her class than on her precocity. She is a very beautiful filly from a good family, she has a lot going for her. Her new surroundings will surely give her quite a bit of time, but she should be very interesting to follow.
Just incase you missed part 1 of this series: