France's Cup legion recruits Arenice

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The Independent Online
If there is one thing the French like better than trumpeting their gastronomic qualities it is putting one over the English. Thus in a land where the most likely place to find a horse is on the end of your fork there is a special place reserved f or Gladiateur.

The first foreign-bred winner of the Derby, and also only the second horse to capture the Triple Crown, France's greatest racehorse was thought to be achieving more than just winning races when those in his homeland heard of his foreign victories. They called him the "avenger of Waterloo". Over a century on, Gladiateur's shape, in statue form, stands at the entrance to Longchamp racecourse. Such immortality may also await The Fellow or one of three other Continental challengers who form a record Frenchentry for this year's Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Of the 35 declared yesterday for the race on 16 March Francois Doumen, The Fellow's trainer, provides three (Algan, the King George VI Chase winner, and Val d'Alene, a victor on his only run in Britain, at Lingfield, are the others). The fourth Frenchmanis Arenice, who was trained to finish third in the Grand Steeplechase de Paris (French Gold Cup) last year by Francois Rohaut.

Like Jean-Claude Rouget, the trainer of this year's multiple Group-race winner Millkom, the 36-year-old Rohaut trains at Pau at the foot of the Pyrenees. Arenice, who has won four chases and a hurdle race in 21 outings, will have a Cotswolds reconnaissance mission on Saturday week when he runs in the Pillar Properties Chase. After that he will lodge until the Festival at Jackdaws Castle with David Nicholson, which means he may be best leaving his holiday snaps camera at home.

Ireland have six representatives in an effort to claim the race last won for them in 1986 by Dawn Run. They are Belvederian, Commercial Artist, Flashing Steel, Merry Gale, Nuaffe and Second Schedual. Merry Gale is the shortest in Ladbrokes' betting at 12-1.

The longest price available in the Queen Mother Champion Chase, for which 15 were entered yesterday, is about Wild Atlantic and you could get quite rich if he wins. The gelding's odds are 2,000-1.

However, when his credentials are scrutinised even that looks shabby value. The 12-year-old has won just one novice event (at Carlisle) in three seasons chasing. "The owner insisted he was put in the race and he doesn't want him to run before Cheltenham," Zoe Green, who trains Wild Atlantic at Hawick, said yesterday.

"He's had leg problems, but is a good jumper. I just hope he gets close to sixth prize if the race cuts up and he gets round. I think I'd rather be at Hexham. I've been to Cheltenham once and I didn't like it much."

GOLD CUP (Cheltenham, 16 March): Ladbrokes: 6-1 Barton Bank, 7-1 Monsieur Le Cure, 8-1 Jodami & Master Oats, 12-1 Algan, Merry Gale, One Man & Raymylette, 16-1 The Fellow, 20-1 Dubacilla, Miinnehoma & Young Hustler, 25-1 Bradbury Star, Deep Bramble, Flashing Steel & Second Schedual, 33-1 others.

QUEEN MOTHER CHAMPION CHASE (Cheltenham, 15 March): Ladbrokes: 6-4 Viking Flagship, 5-2 Travado, 8-1 Bradbury Star, 10-1 Deep Sensation, 14-1 Nakir & Valfinet, 16-1 Coulton, Egypt Mill Prince & Katabatic, 25-1 Snitton Lane, Sybillin & Uncle Ernie, 2,000-1 Wild Atlantic.