L’Homme Presse bids to end 9-year Cheltenham drought for Venetia Williams

L'Homme Presse provides trainer Venetia Williams with a strong Cheltenham Festival contender.L'Homme Presse provides trainer Venetia Williams with a strong Cheltenham Festival contender.

L’Homme Presse provides Venetia Williams with a lively Festival contender

When L’Homme Presse won the Grade 1 Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase at Sandown last weekend he provided Venetia Williams with her first Grade 1 success for 20 years. That statistic is remarkable enough but it is also nine long years since she last had a winner at the Cheltenham Festival. She is on a losing streak of 78 at the meeting since Carrickboy won at 50-1 in 2013. We take a look at the prospects of L’Homme Presse and other potential Cheltenham runners from her yard.

L’Homme Presse ready to face top Irish chasers

Until recently, the Turners Novices’ Chase had looked there for the taking for Bob Olinger, so impressive when winning the Ballymore Novices; Hurdle in 2021. There is now a real possibility of Galopin Des Champs running here instead of in the Brown Advisory over a longer trip. L’Homme Presse has now thrown his hat into the ring with his comfortable Sandown victory.

Odds of 5-1 probably reflect his chance and the form of the Scilly Isles victory is difficult to assess. It could not be said to be a vintage renewal by any stretch of the imagination and, one by one, his rivals blundered away their chance. The seven-year-old has already won over fences at Cheltenham when dishing out a 10 lengths beating to The Glancing Queen on New Year’s Day. 

If Galopin Des Champs is re-directed to the Turners, it is going to rival the Queen Mother Champion Chase clash for the highlight of the Festival. The Mullins’ trained horse will certainly stay three miles so won’t be hanging about while L’Homme Presse made all the running at Cheltenham and Sandown. 

Royal Pagaille Gold Cup hopes hinge on the weather

Venetia Williams took a bit of a gamble by running Royal Pagaille in last season’s Cheltenham Gold Cup. He had been very impressive on soft and heavy ground in his previous races and the going at Cheltenham was always likely to be too fast for him. He finished lame in a remote sixth place and did not race again until the Betfair Chase in November.

Royal Pagaille was a creditable second to A Plus Tard at Haydock but picked up a knock during the race and missed the King George VI Chase. He returned to action in January and defied 11st 10lbs to claim a second consecutive Peter Marsh Chase. If he gets very testing ground on Gold Cup day he could prove good each-way value in a wide open race.

Williams has another Cheltenham prospect in Green Book, the winner of the valuable Heroes Handicap Hurdle at Sandown. He was racing off a mark of 130 so would seem more likely to take the handicap route than run in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle. The progressive Brave Seasca is on course for the Grand Annual Handicap Chase after racking up a hat-trick of wins. He is entered for this weekend’s Kingmaker Novices’ Chase at Warwick where he could clash with Arkle Chase prospects Edwardstone and Third Time Lucki. If he runs well there, the Arkle would be a realistic objective.

Funambule Sivola could earn a tilt at the Champion Chase if he wins Saturday’s Game Spirit Chase. Shock Ladbrokes Trophy winner Cloudy Glen was runner-up in last year’s Kim Muir at Cheltenham. Hopefully one of the stable’s representatives can go one better next month.