British challenge on the horizon for Il Est Francais

Noel George eyeing UK trip for high-class French performer.

The exciting Ile Est Francais is set to be campaigned in Britain later in the year following a dominant success on his chasing debut at Auteuil.

The five-year-old was a Grade One winner over hurdles at the Parisian track last year for Tom George and is now trained in partnership by his son Noel and Amanda Zetterholm.

He returned from a summer break for his first start over fences on Tuesday and could hardly have been more impressive in the hands of James Reveley.

“Auteuil is not easy to jump round for your first time and he jumped round like he’d been round there a hundred times. He was very impressive,” said Noel George.

“We’ve been waiting to run him over fences for a while and now we’ve been able to do it, he impressed us as much as we thought he would. Hopefully he’s got a big career over fences ahead of him.”

Ile Est Francais is set for one more run at Auteuil this autumn before potentially being readied for major meetings on UK soil.

George added: “We have to discuss it with the owners, but I think he’ll probably run at the beginning of November at Auteuil – there’s a Listed race for a five-year-old chasers, which I’d like to think would be a penalty kick for him.

“After that we’ll maybe consider the Coral Gold Cup meeting at Newbury or Kempton at Christmas. He’ll be travelling over to the UK this year, that’s for certain, but when and where that will be, I can’t say for certain yet.

“Newbury would be a nice place for him to start for his first run in England as it’s flat with a nice, long straight.

“I think we’ll probably start him over two and a half miles because he runs over two and a half a lot over here and we can then make a decision on whether he needs to go up or down in trip.

“He’s very versatile and for me, with his speed and jumping, he could easily be a two-miler in England, but we’re dreaming of winning a French Gold Cup with him one day and that is over three and a half miles, so we don’t want him going the wrong way.”

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