Nicholls prepares French raid

Ptit Zig is in line to return to France in search of another valuable prize with his chasing career put on hold.

Ptit Zig will be in regular action in France this season

The Great Pretender gelding failed to win in France at the start of his career but made a successful return to mainland Europe at the end of his first season for Paul Nicholls.

Having finished third in the Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival before winning at Sandown in April, he bettered those performances when finishing second to Diakali in a Grade One in June of 2014.

He reappeared at Auteuil in November of that year and duly landed the Grade One Prix Renaud du Vivier.

Ptit Zig didn't run in France during a successful novice chase season but was back at Auteuil last summer, finishing fourth behind Un De Sceaux in the Grade Two Prix de la Barka over two miles five before successfully stepping up to three miles in the Grande Courses de Haies d'Auteuil.

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That Grade One was worth over £122,000 to the winner and Nicholls is targeting two races in France for the seven-year-old who lost his way over fences last season after winning a Grade Two at Down Royal in October.

"Ptit Zig is going back for the Grand Prix d'Automne in November, the race Zarkandar won two years ago, then he will come back for the Long Walk and then return to France for the French Champion Hurdle in June.

"He won't go chasing again."

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Ptit Zig could be joined on his travels by two of last season's juveniles in Zubayr and Adrien Du Pont.

Zubayr only made his debut over hurdles in February when winning the Adonis Hurdle at Kempton. He disappointed in the Triumph but returned to form at Wincanton before finishing third at Auteuil in May.

Adrien Du Pont won Chepstow's Grade One Finale in January before landing a handicap in April and Nicholls is pleased with the progress he has made this summer.

"He is a big strong horse now, he just needed time," he said.

"Either he or Zubayr will run in the four-year-old Champion Hurdle which is in November as well."

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