French jumpers usually fare well in the Queen Mother Champion Chase, the highlight of the Festival’s second day. Sprinter Sacré, dual winner in 2013 and 2016, and Politologue, the winner of last edition, are the most recent example of a trend started in 1996 by Klairon Davis and repeated 10 times since.
Once again, a horse from France should start as the favourite of the race as Susan Ricci’s Chacun pour Soi, bred in Saône-et-Loire by livestock dealer Didier Berland, is the market’s favourite at 5/6. The 9-year-old gelding ran 7 times -and won on 6 occasions- in Ireland since he moved from Emmanuel Clayeux’s yard to join the Closutton’s armada at Willie Mullins’.
The good record of French horses on such a race is a bit of a curiosity since 2-mile chases in France don’t exist! When the Auteuil programme was conceived, the idea was to run the best jumpers over middle-distances, usually a bit less than 3 miles, and then much further for the main championships. Yet French trainers nowadays emphasize on their horses’ jumping ability, which they work early enough, so that when they move to either Britain or Ireland, most of them are unfazed by speed runs on straight fences.