Nicolas Caullery is hoping Fort Payne can provide France with a second success in the £150,000 All-Weather Mile Championships (2.00pm) at Newcastle on Finals Day, April 15.
Joel Boisnard’s Lucky Team caused the biggest shock in Finals Day history when taking the same race at odds of 40/1 in 2018, one of five French-trained winners at the fixture since 2015.
Fort Payne will be no such price after winning two of his three starts this season, most recently posting a smooth success in the Prix Montjeu at Chantilly on March 1.
The four-year-old was an emphatic five-length winner of an All-Weather Listed contest at the same track last spring before a consistent campaign on turf, headed by a close third in the G3 Prix de Guiche.
Caullery also plans to saddle King Gold in the £150,000 Betway All-Weather Sprint Championships (2.35pm) over six furlongs.
King Gold had G1 winner Marianafoot back in third in a conditions race at Cagnes-sur-Mer in February but was no match for Fast Raaj when sixth in a Fast-Track Qualifier at Chantilly on March 1.
Caullery said: “Fort Payne is doing really well and I think he goes there with nice prospects. The mile suits him well and his record on the All-Weather is good.
“We tried him in blinkers at Chantilly and he won, so it is difficult to run without them this time, although I am not convinced that he needs them.
“He was beaten at Cagnes-sur-Mer in January but he’s a big colt and that was more to do with him coming back from a break and not being completely ready.
“King Gold beat a good horse at Cagnes-sur-Mer in February but similarly our horse was very ready that day whereas Marianafoot was probably not.
“It looks like it will be more difficult for King Gold but he is in good form and, if he could pick up some place money, I will be happy.”
Fort Payne will be ridden by Gregory Benoist, who guided Fresles to victory in the 2015 All-Weather Fillies’ & Mares' Championships, while Neil Callan takes the ride on King Gold.