L’Homme Presse carries British hopes in Cheltenham Gold Cup after triumphant return

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  • After 13 months on the sidelines, the most welcome sight of Lingfield Park’s Winter Million Festival (19-21 January) was the triumphant return of the Venetia Williams-trained L’Homme Presse.

    The French-bred son of Diamond Boy was last seen parting company with jockey Charlie Deutsch at the last fence in the 2022 King George at Kempton Park and it’s been a lengthy recovery since, involving careful rehab and plenty of patience from the owners.

    However, sent off favourite for Sunday’s (21 January) Fitzdares Fleur De Lys Chase at Lingfield, L’Homme Presse brushed off any ring rustiness to win impressively, cementing his place among the entries for the Cheltenham Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

    “It’s been a long time coming,” said Herefordshire-based Venetia Williams of her 2022 Brown Advisory winner at the Festival.

    She plans to give the nine-year-old L’Homme Presse one more run before they head to the Cheltenham Gold Cup as a leading British fancy against the might of the Irish. The Gold Cup market is currently headed by the Willie Mullins-trained defending champion Galopin Des Champs.

    L’Homme Presse: “He’s got some gears”

    L’Homme Presse missed his final schooling session due to last week’s frozen ground and jockey Charlie Deutsch described him as “rusty” in the early stages of Lingfield’s 2m6f race, even “headbutting” the first fence. But the gelding’s class showed as they fended off the challenge of dual Gold Cup-contender Protektorat for Harry and Dan Skelton, with former Welsh National winner Iwilldoit third for trainer Sam Thomas with Sam Twiston-Davies in the saddle.

    L’Homme Presse’s co-owner Andy Edwards described the horse’s winning comeback as “Christmas Day”, while the jockey punched the air on his way back to the winner’s enclosure.

    “It took some time to wind him up, but he’s shown his class and he’s got some gears at the end,” said Charlie Deutsch of his seventh chasing success aboard L’Homme Presse, having also won the Grade One Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase at Sandown and Ascot’s Graduation Chase since they first teamed up together at the end of 2021.

    Lingfield Park was the sole jumps survivor of the recent Arctic blast, so hats off to Lingfield Park’s clerk of the course Stephanie Wethered and her team for salvaging Sunday’s card. You can read the full report in this week’s Horse & Hound magazine, in the shops on Thursday 25 January.

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