Over the course of the last ten years, there was a steady decline in French-trained entrants at Cheltenham Festival but the 2019 edition offers many more hopefuls. The likes of Douvan and Sprinter Sacre have both made great impressions in recent times, and punters will be keen to scope out some of the best horses from France ahead of Tuesday’s opening race.
The number of French-trained horses making the short trip to the United Kingdom is on the rise, and they’ll almost certainly arrive in Gloucestershire with every intention of making their presence known. Let’s take a peek at the best French hopefuls but before we do, be sure to check out all the Cheltenham betting odds on Betfair.
Urgent De Gregaine – Cross Country Chase
After coming second in last year’s Glenfarclas Chase, Urgent De Gregaine (10/1) will be looking to go one better in 2019 and cause a major upset on day two of the festival. It was only Tiger Roll that finished ahead of the 11-year-old and the defending champion will be more than aware of the threat posed by Urgent De Gregaine. Trainer Emmanuel Clayeux appears optimistic ahead of the race: “He seems ready to me and I just hope he isn’t short of a run. I preferred not to run in adverse conditions and it is not like he is a young horse, he knows his job by heart and I hope that will be enough.”
Amazing Comedy – Cross Country Chase
Another French contender comes in the shape of Amazing Comedy, who’ll also be running in the Cross Country Chase on Wednesday. The nine-year-old is a lot further out than his compatriot (26/1) and his fourth-place finish in the Glenfarclas in December suggests he knows the course, but he must ramp it up a gear during the festival. For trainer David Cottin, it’ll be his second entry at Cheltenham after Brave Dancing ran in the Fred Winter last year.
Naturelle – Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle
Another newbie who’ll be making their Cheltenham bow is Naturelle, who is a long-shot in the Fred Winter at 40/1. The four-year-old is trained by Alain Couetil and has started to make a great impression in flat racing and over hurdles so he could be worth an outside punt. The rest of the field look very strong, so Naturelle will do well to keep up the pace but Couetil remains hopeful: “At Senonnes we have hurdles like those in England so she has plenty of experience jumping those, while the racecourse here rises and falls a bit like Cheltenham so she won’t lack on that front.”
Presidente Line – Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle
Another entry who punters will be witnessing for the first time is another from Couetil, Presidente Line will be running in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle and can be backed at 24/1. The five-year-old made her British debut in February and finished second in the March Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at Taunton, possibly providing a snippet of what can happen at Prestbury Park. She’s accustomed to success in France so it’ll be intriguing to see how she fares at Cheltenham.