Hip Hop Conti’s performance in the Grand Cross de Pau was underlined yesterday as runner-up Saint Godefroy ran out a 2 1/2l winner in the Grand Cross de Mont de Marsan, under champion rider Felix de Giles.

The €52,000 contest over 4,700m (2m 7f) took place at Pau in the absence of a serviceable track at Mont de Marsan.

Already a winner of no less than 8 cross country races at Pau alone, including the 2022 Grand Cross, over multiple distances, Saint Godefroy certainly knows his way around Pau’s impressive fences, and this race never really looked in doubt despite the best efforts of second-placed Iridia and third,  Riskman.

His Dragey – based trainer Patrice Quinton is France’s leading exponent of cross country racing, and a previous winner of the Crystal Cup award for leading trainer. He had been expected to assert his lead in this season’s Crystal Cup leaderboard with a Cheltenham runner in Wednesday’s Glenfarclas Cross Country, but this was withdrawn at the 6 day entry stage, leaving only British and Irish runners for the £75,000 (€87,000) contest.

Meantime, in a busy weekend for followers of the cross country discipline, a new candidate for senior honours emerged in the Prix Malicieuse over 4,900m (3m) at Durtal. Nine year old gelding Ever Forget Me demolished the 8 runner field with a comprehensive 12l victory, having been held up in rear till half way, when he took it up and gained distance with every stride. One has to hope trainer Eric Leray will push the gelding into higher class events henceforth.