Owner Andy Edwards hopes L’Homme Presse can cement his Cheltenham Gold Cup claims in the Gr1 Betfair Ascot Chase, the centrepiece of Betfair Ascot Chase Raceday on Saturday.
Total prize money across the seven-race programme is up 6.5 per cent on 2023 with £458,650 on offer, including £175,000 for the Betfair Ascot Chase.
L’Homme Presse headlines the entries for the two-mile, five-furlong highlight, having made a successful comeback for Venetia Williams in Lingfield Park’s Fleur de Lys Chase last month.
The 2022 Gr1 Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase victor had been side-lined since unseating regular rider Charlie Deutsch in the Gr1 King George VI Chase later that year.
Edwards, who owns the nine-year-old with Peter and Patricia Pink, said: “Everything has been fine with L’Homme Presse since Lingfield.
“I thought it was an amazing comeback and we were thrilled with everything we saw from him. Hopefully, he can kick on again from there, starting this weekend in the Betfair Ascot Chase.
“I don’t think the ‘bounce factor’ is a scientific thing. Every horse is different and that is not something that fazes us. We are only concerned about our horse and he will run a race that suits him.”
On the Cheltenham Gold Cup, he added: “The dream is still alive. To even be in the reckoning for a race of that calibre is a privilege in itself. We want to do our very best to win at Ascot this weekend and then, all being well, take our chance at Cheltenham.
“It is a horse race and no horse is unbeatable, especially in a top-end race like the Gold Cup because there are so many variables that can affect the outcome – jumping, positioning, luck in running et cetera.
“Having said that, Galopin Des Champs is a champion and looks something to be admired. And you can’t discount the other horses in the race, as everyone will go there thinking they have a valid chance.
“With L’Homme Presse, we still don’t really know where his ultimate ceiling is. He has only had three runs outside novice company and they have all been fantastic. He might have a ‘U’ against his name from the King George but he was still running a great race on a track and ground that did not suit his style.
“The one thing that I would say about L’Homme Presse is that he has an attitude and aptitude where he does not want to be beaten. It does not matter if it is on the gallops or walking through the yard, he is like ‘this is my space, get out of it’. And he races in a very similar manner, ‘I’m in charge, do not even think about going there, because that’s my space’. That determination and grit in an athlete is what can make the difference on the day.
“I am sure everyone like us is feeling excited, whether it’s Shishkin’s camp or Gerri Colombe’s camp. We have all seen lots of turn-ups in big races down the years, just look what happened in the King George this season. As I always like to say, keep the faith, believe in your horse and enjoy the moment.”
Opposition to L’Homme Presse in the Betfair Ascot Chase is set to include Pic D’Orhy, who was runner-up to Shishkin 12 months ago before claiming the G1 Melling Chase at Aintree. His trainer Paul Nicholls is chasing a record fifth win in the race.
The Joseph O’Brien-trained Fakir D’Oudairies could make his third successive appearance in the Betfair Ascot Chase, having taken the spoils in 2022 and finished third last year.
Multiple Gr1 winner Ahoy Senor is also engaged for Lucinda Russell, alongside Dan Skelton’s Sail Away.
Ascot’s Clerk of the Course Chris Stickels said: “We are Good to Soft, Soft in places, following 41mm rain in the past seven days. Further showers are expected through the week, with between 9-20mm forecast between Tuesday and Friday.”