Hip Hop Conti heads the entries for the Grand Cross de Pau Allianz Olivier Ournac on Sunday, in a select entry of 9. The 7 year old gelding comes into the race on the back of a brace of wins at Pau over shorter distances than the 6,300m (4m)  here, the latest at the end of last month, and will be well-fancied to repeat his success in this race in 2023.

Emmanuel Clayeux is doubly represented by 11 year old Lucky Net Love, who has run into the placings in two efforts during Pau’s winter season, and struck gold at Paray-le-Monial back in November. He is well held by Hip Hop Conti on the basis of a 7 1/2l third to him at Pau in mid-January.

A more likely threat to the supremacy of the Clayeux star comes from a combination of Illico, Solingen and St Godefroy.

6 year old Illico, trained by David Cottin,  comes into the race on the back of an unbeaten run of four wins across every discipline of the sport. He prefaced his winter campaign with a 1/2l victory over Mishka des Mottes in a 3,500m (2m 1f) hurdle race before winning a cross country at Pau in mid January over 4,100m (2m 4f). He’s yet to try this longer distance.

St Godefroy is held by Hip Hop Conti on the back of their meet here in the Prix Jean Henry Wright in January, and re-opposes on 4kg worse terms. Solingen, one of two entries trained by Daniela Mele, has been tapped for speed in each of his most recent runs, and might benefit from a stronger pace.

Emira du Gouet looks an unlikely winner, but Harmonie Roque has downed the favourite as recently as mid-December, when second in a race won by St Godefroy, Hip Hop Conti 8 1/2l back in third.

There are no runners from abroad, but British interest extends to the David Maxwell – owned Feu du Large, a nine year old trained by Patrice Quinton, who also trains St Godefroy. The longer distance may be to his liking as he’s been tapped for toe in races over shorter distances last month since winning at Durtal at the beginning of November.