While the second of the B races on the road to the Prix d'Amerique, the Prix du Bourbonnais (Group 2, 120,000 euros) has brought the superstars of French harness racing out in force tonight, Sweden's biggest gun, Maharajah, may still get another shot at the World's greatest race despite a disappointing run in the Gavle Stora Pris three weeks ago.
But Annika Lindblom, Projectleader of Travkompaniet, 'the Emperor's' owner said there was nothing amiss with the horse, who has been plagued with fetlock problems throughout his career, after the race.
"The veterinary was pleased with him and he is ok in the training," Ms Linblom told Harnesslink.
"Of course last race was a little bit of a disappointment but maybe he needs a couple of races before he is in shape again. Last race was only the third time he been at a racetrack since May!"
As for a shot at the Prix d'Amerique, in which the great horse finished second in his first attempt in 2011, Ms Lindblom says Travompianet's connections have not made a final decision.
"Well, the answer about the Prix DÂ´Amerique is that we have not decides anything," she said.
"We take one race at the time for Maharajah andafter every race.
"Next race for him will be in V75 in Gothenburg next Saturday , If he is okay in the training."
Maharajah, who is trained by, has not previously entered the B races before the final race in January, the Prix de Bretagne, and it was a win in the 2011 renewal that earned him a place in that year's Grand Prix d'Amerique, where he finished a gallant second to , who like himself is an 8-year-old.
The pair repeated the result the next week in the group one â‚¬400,000 Prix de France before Maharajah went on a week later to win the group one Prix de Paris (also â‚¬400,000), over the marathon 4175m trip around Vincennes withnot fronting.
But his old rival, who has won two Prix d'Amerique's and finished second last year will be making his first start at the Winter Series in this year's Prix de Bourbonnais, a race he has won two years in a row.
Indeed's son of has a formidable record in B races. He has also won the Prix De Bourgogne (2100m) the last three times in a row, o won the Prix de Bretagne (2700m) at his second attempt in 2011 after galloping in his first ever B race in the 2010 renewal.
In fact the only B racehas not won is the Prix de Belgique (2850m), in which he finished third in his only attempt in 2012. He fronted up a fortnight later and won his first Prix d'Amerique.
Last year's Prix d'Amerique winnerhas been patiently handled in his career by Jean-Etienne Dubois' Ecurie Victoria Dreams stable.
Under the astute guidance of trainer, the son of won seven on the trot when he began his career as a 4YO, all in provincial company and he did not make a start at Vincennes until late in his 5YO year.
Even then he did not race in good company until he had fully matured as a 6YO in the Prixwhere he broke 50m from the line after he had drawn up alongside eventual winner Lana Del Rio and , who was subsequently disqualified.
As a seven-year-oldwon the 2012 Prix de Belgique which gave him a ticket to that year's Prix dAmerique where he ran a promising sixth. He subsequently won his first group race, the Prix de France a fortnight later.
Later that year he finished second in all three early B races, the Prix de Bretagne, Prix Du Bourbonnais and Prix de Bourgogne, before missing the Prix Belgique on his way to a stunning victory overin the Prix d'Amerique. He ran second in the Prix de France to and has been lightly raced the rest of the year with only six appearances, for a win and a second.
He has had two warmup races in the provinces but he will be focussed on this, although not likely a favourite at this stage of his preparation.
Rising star Timoko has had a stellar year with seven wins in 15 starts at the highest level and's stallion might be nearing the level he needs to be to mount a serious challenge to , who was an easy victor in the UET Masters Series final, the last time they met.
Ecurie Victoria Dreams and Moulin also have a second big gun in their arsenal with Texas Charm another from the impressive T generation, which is not far behind the quality of the much vaunted R crop. Texas Charm also has a victory over Timoko this year and has earned just under a million euros.
The talented son ofhas won the Group one Prix Vincennes under saddle and group one Prix Rene Balliere in the bike and a clutch of group twos in both disciplines.
There are plenty of other good horses in the field including world record breaking mare Save The Quick, recent Prix de Bretagne winner Uhland du Val and third placegettter Tiego d'Etang and former Italian Derby winner Pascia'Lest - who is in the same stable as.
And with the big guns focusing on a bigger race in the last weekend of January, they could well provide an upset.