L’Homme Presse all set to push Gold Cup claims at Ascot

Venetia Williams’ charge is odds-on for this weekend’s Grade One.

Owner Andy Edwards is looking to L’Homme Presse to book his Cheltenham Gold Cup in Saturday’s Betfair Ascot Chase at the Berkshire track.

The nine-year-old made a faultless return to action following a lengthy lay off in last month’s Fleur De Lys Chase, beating Protektorat by just over two lengths on his first start since unseating Charlie Deutsch in the 2022 King George VI Chase.

L’Homme Presse sustained a season-ending injury in that mishap, with trainer Venetia Williams and Edwards, plus his co-owners Peter and Patricia Pink, giving the gelding plenty of time to recover.

He is now set to turn out 27 days later at Ascot, with Edwards not putting much stock in the theory of the ‘bounce factor’ for horses having their second run back after an absence.

L'Homme Presse beat Protektorat at Lingfield
L’Homme Presse beat Protektorat at Lingfield (Adam Davy/PA)

He 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.”

L’Homme Presse is a general 8-1 chance for next month’s Cheltenham Gold Cup, with reigning champion Galopin Des Champs odds-on to defend his title for Willie Mullins.

While Edwards is aware of the task L’Homme Presse would face in the Cotswolds, he would not shy away from taking on that challenge.

Galopin Des Champs is a short price for the Gold Cup
Galopin Des Champs is a short price for the Gold Cup (Niall Carson/PA)

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. 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.”

L’Homme Presse is one of five entries for the Ascot Chase along with 2022 hero Fakir d’Oudairies, Pic D’Orhy, Ahoy Senor and Sail Away.

Seven have been entered in the Grade Two Sodexo Live! Novices’ Chase – better known as the Reynoldstown – including Apple Away and Kilbeg King.

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