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18th January 2022 Cheltenham

By Graham Clark

Exciting novice chaser L’Homme Presse will bid to give his connections the chance to “scream the roof down” at Cheltenham in March, after being given entries in two Grade One contests at The Festival™.

The Venetia Williams-trained seven year old features among 44 entries received for the Turners Novices’ Chase (2m 3f 168y, Thursday 17th March) and the 47 names in contention to contest the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase (3m 80y, Wednesday 16th March).

However, connections have revealed that which of the options he takes up will be determined by ground conditions.

After making a winning debut over fences at Exeter on December 3rd over 2m 3f the son of Diamond Boy swiftly followed up in a graduation contest at Ascot on 18th December over 2m 5f, before securing victory in the Grade Two Paddy Power Novices’ Chase over an extended 2m 4f at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day. 

And while L’Homme Presse is yet to race beyond 2m 5f, Andy Edwards, who owns the gelding in partnership with Peter and Patricia Pink under the DFA Racing banner, believes the progressive chaser would be just as comfortable contesting either race at The Festival.

He said: “What race we run in will be ground dependent. If it came up soft he would go for the shorter race (Turners Novices’ Chase) and if it came up quick he would go for the longer option (Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase).

“You have got to have options as you don’t want to go down a one way street as you can’t turn back. He has got the pace to run in the Turners but he has got the stamina to run in the Brown Advisory. 

“I was at Venetia’s yard yesterday and I spoke to Charlie Deutsch (jockey) and he was very open minded. There is a long way to go and you know how many bad luck stories there are of horses not getting to Cheltenham. 

“There are so many difficult moments as an owner that when you have a great moment you have to scream the roof down as that is what it is all about. You have to enjoy the moment because as soon as the next race comes, that moment is gone.”

Victory at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day may have sparked wild celebrations from Edwards, but he admits that he was reduced to tears following L’Homme Presse’s success on his return to action at Exeter and compares the win to that of a “proud dad” moment. 

Edwards said: “I’ve been a very passionate racing fan since I was a teenager and for me to be on the biggest stage in the paddock at Cheltenham with those trainers and to have a horse there with a chance was amazing. 

“To then have nearly 30,000 people cheering - I can’t say I dreamed of it as I never thought I’d have one good enough to be there, even though you always hope when you buy them as young horses that they will be that good.

“The crowd were great and there were a lot of people who knew me standing around that winner’s enclosure. There were some at Ascot welcoming me back and even a few shouted my name after he won at Exeter.

“I cried when I walked into the winner’s enclosure at Exeter. I grabbed Venetia’s arm but then I stopped and put my hands on my knees as I was so emotional and she said she was as well. 

“It was just the two and a half-year journey I had been on with the horse to get him there winning over fences. I had a proud dad feeling like if my son had been selected to play for the school rugby team and they won and he scored the try.”

Edwards believes the emergence of L’Homme Presse as one of Jump racing’s rising stars is down to the upbringing he was given as a youngster in France.

He explained: “What I do is buy the young horses predominantly in France and have them educated in the way I think they should be. It is very structured what they go through. 

“They go through kindergarten, primary school, secondary school then go off to college and away they go. They get that experience in France, then I bring them over to England to share with people.

“Why I do this is that I have a strong belief that 20 per cent of a racehorse is about the body and the core and 80 per cent is about mental and emotional needs. 

“Every yard my horses go to the staff always say how nice they are to deal with and there is a reason why - it is because I put a lot of effort into them.”

According the Edwards, L’Homme Presse will be given another outing over fences before he takes in a trip to The Festival, but where and when that will take place remains to be decided.  

He added: “He was hardly having a blow after The Dipper and he has been kept ticking over by Venetia with a view to getting another run into him before Cheltenham.

“The clue is in the title that he is a novice and the more they learn before going to Cheltenham the better. 

“It will all be ground dependent as ultimately we don’t want to run him in a glue pot and bottom him out before Cheltenham. I can’t say where that run will be - it will just have to be of waiting and seeing where the right ground is.”


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