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Connections plot Gold Cup path for L'Homme Presse

Sun 20 Mar 2022

Connections of L’Homme Presse are in no rush to decide the star chaser's next outing as they plot their path to next season’s Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The Venetia Williams-trained seven-year-old remained unbeaten in five races over fences when taking his second successive Grade One of the season, fluently landing the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase by three and a half lengths on his first start over three miles.

While L'Homme Presse has taken the race well, co-owner Andy Edwards was still feeling the after-effects of the celebrations on Sunday.

“I’m in recovery… and I never, ever want to recover from this!” he admitted.

The Boodles Gold Cup is now the long-term target, a race for which he was initially quoted at 16-1. Immediately after the race, Edwards suggested that would be his target and told ITV viewers, “Back him (for next year’s Gold Cup)”. L’Homme Presse is now a general 8-1 chance.

Edwards said: “People can get so negative and defensive about racing. If he doesn’t go to the Gold Cup no doubt I will be berated for it, but at the end of the day it is a sport.

“Sport is about being positive and Venetia Williams is going to do her utmost to get him to the Gold Cup next year. So am I.

“If people want to back him, then back him, because he is a great horse. Why wouldn’t you back him? He has just won the Festival Chase, which is the novices’ Gold Cup. Go for it!

“He has just won twice at Cheltenham, why shouldn’t he go for the Gold Cup next year?”

L’Homme Presse has lived up to his name, a literal translation being ‘the man in a hurry’, having had five races since the start of December.

Having won the Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase and the Brown Advisory in quick succession, Edwards is in two minds about going to the well once more with L’Homme Presse.

He admitted: “My thoughts leading into the race were, ‘Let’s not be greedy’. Whatever happens, let’s not be greedy, because this is going to be a championship race and let’s see how he goes.

“I think, from Venetia’s way of thinking, she likes to keep the horses ticking over, but then pick up opportunities as they come up.

“I said to her, ‘We’ll probably be putting him away, won’t we?’, but she just said, ‘We don’t need to have the conversation just yet’.

“I have had a look at the programme and I can’t really see anything in the programme, but like all these things, you do have to see how they come out of the race.

“We ran at Exeter and ran 15 days later at Ascot and we both said we’ll have to see how he is. He didn’t have blow at Exeter, he didn’t have blow at Ascot, he barely had a blow after the Dipper (at Cheltenham) and he certainly didn’t at Sandown.

“He is a horse that normally recovers very quickly, but this is first time where he has had a hard, proper race, where he has had to go and go and run a full championship race, in the mud. That was hard work.

“If you look at it, he was jumping like he was jumping out of good to soft, not heavy ground, which it was. He likes Cheltenham and leaning in on that left-handed course.”

Thoughts of a quick return at Aintree appear to be diminishing.

Edwards explained: “Not only does Aintree come up quick, but the ground will be watered, quick ground and it is not about will he recover in time, I would imagine it is more about how has he come out of the race and do we need to be greedy?

“Giving him rest was my view before the race and it is still my view now, but I haven’t spoken to Venetia. We’ll have the conversation sometime this week.

“She might be thinking about another race, but I’m not sure what.

“And it’s not a novice chase at Aintree. You will be taking on the big boys at school. Is that what we want to be doing?

“I’m not sure she has Aintree in her mind, but it isn’t the be all and end all.

“For now, we can dream of next year.

“There are only so many miles an engine can do before its performance starts dropping off.

“Some people have Ford Mondeos, some people have Mercedes’, and if you have got a really good one, the chances are you can go a bit further with that engine before the performance starts dropping off, but it is a limited amount of mileage you are going to get. You have got to look at the miles that have been clocked up this season.

“He has won two Grade Ones, a Grade Two and a graduation chase. He has run at the top of the tree five times. You don’t want to start pushing that engine too far, too fast.

“The horse will tell us what he want to do. I have a pretty good feeling, already, as I have been to see him, but I will know more when I see him again.”

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