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RacingBetter News
Monday 19th February 2024
What Path Will Il Est Francais Take Towards 2025 Gold Cup?

French horse Il Est Francais established himself as one of the exciting chasers in training when he won the Kauto Star Novices Chase on Boxing Day last year. His connections stated after that race that they plan to return to the same meeting in 2024 for the King George VI Chase.

Here is a look at the route the talented novice may take before arriving at Kempton for the second most prestigious 3m chase on the British calendar.

Ruled out of 2024 Cheltenham Festival

Trainer Noel George has revealed that he does not intend to run his horse in the Turners Novices’ Chase at the 2024 Cheltenham Festival. As a result of that news, Ginnys Destiny is now the 9/4 favourite for those placing horse racing bets on the day three contest at the meeting.

George will keep Il Est Francais in France for the rest of this season. His next assignment is set to come in the Prix Murat at Auteuil on the 6th of April. That will be his final appearance before he takes on the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris (French Gold Cup) on the 19th of May. 

Il Est Francais has won all three of his starts over fences so far. He was victorious on his chase debut at Auteuil back in September, scoring by five lengths. The six-year-old then returned to the Paris-based course a couple of months later to win a Listed contest over the distance of 2m6f by 11 lengths. 

November Meeting Could Be on the Cards

Although it is disappointing that British racing fans will not get to see Il Est Francais at the 2024 Cheltenham Festival, George has revealed that he is hoping his horse can feature at Cheltenham later this year.

The November Meeting is being considered as a prep run before the King George VI Chase. That will be a valuable experience for the chaser, as Prestbury Park will be a much different test to what he has featured around so far.

Il Est Francais will not qualify for novice races the next time he makes the trip across the Channel. He may come up against some of the best 3m chasers in the UK and Ireland, which is an exciting prospect for racing fans.

Gold Cup the Ultimate Goal

The 2025 Cheltenham Gold Cup is likely to be the primary goal for Il Est Francais over the next couple of years. If he performs well in the 2024 King George VI Chase, he is likely to return to the UK three months later for the 2025 Cheltenham Festival.

The Fellow was the last French-trained horse to score in the Cheltenham Gold Cup when he won the Blue Riband event in the sport in 1994. He was trained by Francois Doumen, who regularly made trips to the UK with his talented chaser.

With a high standard of novice chasers this season, Il Est Francais could be set to take on a strong field in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2025. He will be bidding to become the fourth seven-year-old to win the race in the last 16 renewals.

Whichever route George and the horse’s owners choose over the next 12 months, all eyes will be on the French-based runner to see him in action again.