Guillaume Macaire: the 13-time champion jumps trainer in France is back on the Cheltenham trail with the well-regarded Master Dino

John Grossick

You have to go back to the mid-nineties to recall the halcyon days of Guillaume Macaire’s raids on Britain’s top prizes, a gap explained not only by the excellent prize-money offered in France, but also the trainer’s burgeoning business selling his young proteges to British and Irish trainers. 

But he makes a rare and potentially fascinating exception with Master Dino, a dual Grade 1 winner over the Auteuil hurdles and a recent winner of his chasing debut by the small matter of 30 lengths, who lines up in the novice chase at Plumpton (1.10).

“I used to run horses in Britain much more regularly, but once I began selling to Britain, I didn’t want to be running others I’d kept up against them,” said Macaire. 

James Reveley and Master Dino return to the winner’s enclosure at Auteuil

Racing Post / Scott Burton

“I want to take advantage of his novice status in Britain, whereas he would be running against much more experienced senior chasers after one more win in France. He won very easily on his chasing debut at Auteuil and so I have no worries about his aptitude, while he remains pretty fresh.

“The other deciding factor for me is the example from last year of Terrefort, who was placed for me a couple of times at Auteuil and won over hurdles at Clairefontaine but wasn’t up to Group class. He did very well over in Britain and, while he was beaten at Cheltenham, he went on to win at Aintree.”

Terrefort finished his novice chasing campaign with an official mark of 153, while the BHA handicapper has assessed Master Dino at 157 ahead of his British debut

Terr-ific: Terrefort and Daryl Jacob power to victory in the Maghull Novices’ Chase

Edward Whitaker / racingpost.com/photos

“Between the two of them there is no comparison,” said Macaire. “We sold Terrefort to the Munir and Souede team and I think Master Dino should be able to better what he achieved.”

While plenty of eyes will be drawn to chasing newcomers Glenloe and Slate House, Macaire is most wary of Knocknauss, who burnt off all semblance of opposition at Newbury in November. 

“I would have preferred slightly softer ground, if only to slow down the horse of Gary Moore, who made all over two miles at Newbury,” he said.

Master Dino has earned no less than €564,590 from his nine career wins and, having successfully navigated Auteuil 18 times already – as well as jumping countless obstacles under Macaire’s rigorous schooling regime – has plenty of experience to go with his abundant class. 

Although the £60,000 bonus on offer from the Plumpton executive is undoubtedly an attraction, which might explain the high class opposition, it played little part in Macaire and the owners opting for this jumping-off point on the road to Cheltenham, where the JLT Novices’ Chase is the current target.

He said: “The bonus isn’t the reason for coming over, it’s the timing really. To go to Cheltenham he will need another race in between and the sole suitable target over an intermediate trip would be the Scilly Isles Chase at Sandown.

“I didn’t want to give him his first start in Britain there because the Railway Fences are quite different and having already run once over there will help him, albeit British fences shouldn’t present any problems to a good French horse.

“I won’t be asking Daryl [Jacob] to throw everything at him and we’ll have to see how fast the other one [Knocknauss] goes. But my horse is able to follow any kind of pace and he is a lot less keen in his races than he was in his earlier days, though he can still be a bit lit up in the mornings.

“We’ll have to see how this goes but I’ll give him an entry in the Arkle as well as the JLT, while I’m sure the RSA would be too far for him at this stage.”

View from France

Scott Burton assesses Master Dino’s prospects for Plumpton and beyond

Master Dino has developed into a top-class performer around Auteuil  the venue for all 18 of his career starts  one who settles, travels and jumps before showing a real turn of foot in his races. 

Moreover, his debut over the Paris venue’s varied and testing chase course was about as pleasing an introduction as you could wish for. 

Guillaume Macaire poses with his two star four-year-olds, Master Dino (left) and Tunis, following their one-two finish in the G1 Prix Renaud du Vivier at Auteuil

Racing Post / Scott Burton

Macaire drills his horses relentlessly in the art of jumping in the mornings and, although it will be Master Dino’s first start without James Reveley in the saddle, the hope is that Daryl Jacob will be able to settle him into an easy rhythm over the first few fences. 

Arguably, his best form has come on testing ground while you might pick holes in the depth of last season’s four-year-old hurdlers in France, but Master Dino was streets ahead of the opposition, while his entire stablemate Tunis was still well-enough regarded to earn himself a place at stud. 

A satisfactory British debut would set up the prospect of a high-class French challenge at the festival, a missing ingredient for many in the years since Francois Doumen and Macaire turned their sights elsewhere.

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