Louisa Carberry planning dual assault on Auteuil showpiece
20 February 2023
Docteur De Ballon and Gran Diose have Grand Steep in their sights.
Louisa Carberry will have two arrows to fire at the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris as emerging talent Gran Diose is likely to be aimed at the race alongside dual winner Docteur De Ballon.
Gran Diose has gone from strength to strength since graduating to steeplechasing and in his second year over fences won both the Listed Prix Solitaire and the Grade Three Prix Romati at Compiegne – interspersed with a third-placed run in the Prix Journaliste at the same track.
His comeback in the autumn may have seen him beaten in the Prix de la Gascogne, but with that run under his belt he stepped up to Grade Two level in the Grand Steeple-Chase de Compiegne and was an impressive four-and-a-half-length winner.
At the same grade at Auteuil next time out, the seven-year-old backed up that run with another taking success at Grade Two level, stepping up to two miles and six furlongs in the Prix Georges Courtois and prevailing by a short neck.
Behind him in fifth was Willie Mullins’ Franco De Port, an interesting yardstick to assess the correlating Anglo-Irish form as he is a regular in high-class chases on home turf and was third in the 2022 Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris.
The latter race is Gran Diose’s ultimate spring target, the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris being a Grade One event run over three miles and six furlongs at Auteuil in May.
“He’s had a very good winter and obviously the winter in France is kind of a mid-season break, so he’s had a couple of weeks off and he’s back in training,” Carberry said of the six-year-old.
“He should hopefully be running on either March 5 or March 11. He’ll be having a first run back over hurdles to get back into the swing of things, and then run in a chase a month later. It’ll be one of the prep races for the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris.
“He won three Graded races last year, including a Grade Two at Auteuil and a Grade Two at Compiegne. He’s shown he’s well up to having a crack at it, so we’re going to prepare him for it to give him every chance to show what he can do. That’s his aim for the spring anyway.”
Gran Diose has followed an almost constant upward trajectory to this stage in his career, one that was been patiently overseen by Carberry as he is a large horse who has taken time to mature.
She said: “He’s been amazing. He’s a big horse, he’s 18 hands and we started off in handicap company because the horse took time to get his full strength and fill into himself. We’ve been really lucky, every time we’ve asked him to go up a level, he’s done it.
“He’s won handicaps, Listed, Grade Threes, Grade Twos. At some point we’ll find out where his limits are but we’re very lucky to have him, he’s an honest horse who gives his all.
“He’s a good jumper, James Reveley knows him very well, he rides him all the time and he’s never stopped answering ‘yes’ to all of our questions.
“He’s seven now, physically and mentally he’s more mature and he’s a great horse to have. His owner-breeders have really enjoyed the journey so far, they’ve been very good to us and to him.”
Carberry’s stable flagbearer in recent seasons has been Docteur De Ballon, a popular 11-year-old gelding who has won eight times for the yard – including two Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris successes and a further Grade One win in the Prix la Haye Jousselin.
The chestnut is back in training after a layoff and will join Gran Diose in treading a path to the Auteuil showpiece.
“He’s back in training and going for one last crack at another Grand Steeple as well, if we can keep him safe and sound,” Carberry said.
“The idea is to run him at the end of March or the beginning of April, have one prep run over hurdles and if he stays in good order, is looking well and is showing the same spark as he has in the past, he’s also going to be aimed at the Grand Steeple this year.
“With horses, anything can happen but at the moment he’s very well, very supple. He’s still got all of the enthusiasm that he always did for his job, I guess time will tell how it pans out for him but for both of them that is their aim. That’s what we’re training them for, a crack at the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris.”
Though being aimed at the same race, Gran Diose and Docteur De Ballon are different both physically and mentally and share only the same enthusiasm for racing that has served them well throughout their careers so far.
Carberry said: “They are very different horses, Docteur is small and orange, Gran Diose is big and black!
“Gran Diose is a very sensitive horse whereas Docteur is pretty confident, he thinks he knows everything and he doesn’t need us at all. With Gran Diose you have to hold his hand a little bit, so they’re completely opposite horses – funnily enough. The one thing the two of them really love is their job, they’re very genuine and they go racing and really put their hearts into it.
“They’re very different, but Gran Diose has definitely got himself up to the quality that Docteur was showing. We’re very lucky to have a second horse coming along. Docteur is obviously very special to us and to have another horse coming up to that top level is exciting.
“It’s important for us as well, it’s nice for us to be able show we can hopefully produce another top-class horse and a different type of horse. Both of them we had as newly broken-in horses and it’s nice to have followed both of their careers together. They love their jobs and that is the thing they share – they go to the races and absolutely try their best.”
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