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Grande Course de Haies : Eleven challenge De Bon Cœur

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They are twelve at the start of the Grande Course de Haies d’Auteuil (French Champion Hurdle, Gr1), run over 3m1 1/2f on Saturday at Auteuil, but all eyes will be on De Bon Coeur(Vision d’État), the defending champion and once again the great favourite after two convincing wins this season. Owned by Jacques Détré and Haras de Saint-Voir, also her breeders, she does not have to fear an upcoming younger generation as its two leaders, Tunis and Master Dino, are either retired or injured.

Galop Marin (Black Sam Bellamy), who took her crown for a while last Autumn as she was away, and Alex de Larredya (Crillon), who beat her last year, were recently dominated by De Bon Cœur, who has beaten Berjou (Holy Roman Emperor) by a good length only last time in the Prix Léon Rambaud Hurdle (Gr2), but probably more easily than it showed.

As in the Zeturf Grand Steeple-Chase of Paris (Gr1), the Irish trainer Willie Mullins scrambles the cards with no less than five runners. The 7-year-old Melon (Medicean), who was trained in France earlier, has some good performances but two defeats lately, while Yorkhill (Presenting) was well beaten by De Bon Coeur last year. So was the now 6-year-old Bapaume (Turtle Bowl), who finished second in this race in 2018, sixteen lengths behind De Bon Coeur, before winning the Prix La Barka Hurdle (Gr2) over a shorter trip after that. Mr Adjudicator (Camacho) has just returned to Ireland at a lower level but his top titles are Group 1 victories and he could be anything. Bénie des Dieux (Great Pretender) has won six of her last seven races including the David Nicholson Mares Hurdle (Gr1) at the Cheltenham Festival …