The feature race at Vincennes on Sunday, the Prix du Calvados is used by some as a leadup to monte’ racing’s greatest race, the 700,000 euro Prix de Cornulier, which is held on January 19, a week before the Grand Prix d’Amerique.
Last year's Prix de Cornulier winner Singalo was unplaced in this race last year, indeed only three horses have won both in the same year since 1980, with Dream With Me the last to do so in 1998. Vive Ludoise (1994) and Reine du Corta (1990) also did the double.
One reason for this is that unlike the Prix de Cornulier, the Prix de Calvados is open to geldings, which comprise almost half this year's field.
Last year's Prix du Calvados winner Pinson, a two time winner, will however not be back to defend his title having to forcibly retire having just turned 11.
Singalo is however back in this year's field, beginning off the 25m mark. As a group one winner and with earnings of 1.17 million euros, Singalo finds himself ineligible for the mid-year monte races and his formline would not elicit much confidence from a casual handicapper.
But there are two definite Singalos - and the one under saddle bears no resemblance to the one in a cart. Singalo hasn't actually placed in 14 sulky races since April 2010. If he's not galloping he is running well down the track.
But under saddle, If's son of doesn't gallop, and he does that about once in every four or five starts, 75 per cent of the other times he wins, and his worst performance is a single fourth place. That is a remarkable record of 15 wins two seconds and two thirds.
Singalo will however start around third favourite to rising star Ulysse, who will be making his first outing in an open age race .
son of 's last start was also in the bike, so it can be safely discarded as anything more than a training run.
But he was right in form in the Prix Joseph Lafosse, where he beat the best of his age group once again under saddle..
Second favourite is Vagabondu Mag, who will be making his first monte start in more than 12 months, but has very good form under saddle, with four wins and no finish further back than third if he trots all the way.
He has been performing very well in the bike in recent outings with four wins in six starts including two in group three company - and given his liking for monte, handicappers are being quick to get on.
The other horse unsurprisingly getting a lot of early money is monte specialist Sourire de Voutre, a Gazoullis gelding who has won 15 times under saddle in 26 appearances.
The pupil of's last six starts have been three wins and three gallops, all in group company.
Leblanc’s other entrant Utoky is another leading Prix de Cornullier candidate entered, but there are a string of others preferring another route, and so we are missing the likes of Quarry Bay, Tango Quick, Tiégo d’Etang and Uppercut du Rib while Vision Intense raced on Saturday and Anastasia Fella will no doubt target the Prix De Pardieu for 4YO fillies after her failure in the Criterium des 3 Ans.
The dark horse might be Joel Hallais' Nice Love mare Taiga du Rib, the mount ofand a group two winner under saddle.
PRIX DU CALVADOS
2014-01-05 Group II monte € 150 000
1 Unikaranes (6m Montecatini - Pivoine des Hayes) Rd: Alexandre Abrivard Tr: Laurent Claude Abrivard
2 Vagabondu Mag (5g Ozio Royal - Perle du Ravary) Rd:Tr: Bruno Bourgoin
3 Uppercut du Rib (6h Quadrophenio - Galinette Cendree) Rd: Jean Loic Claude Dersoir Tr: Joel Hallais
4 Ulysse (6h- Loctudy) Rd: Tr:
5 Utoky (6h- Epopee) Rd: Tr:
6 Ramsey du Ham (9g- Ufania du Buisson) Rd: Pierre Edouard Mary Tr: Yvonnick Dousset
7 Rapide du Digeon (9g Urfist des Pres - Gerveine Barbes) Rd: Damien Bonne Tr: Thierry Raffegeau
8 Son Alezan (8h- Kelle Ile) Rd: Adrien Lamy Tr:
9 Sourire de Voutre (8g Gazouillis - Goella) Rd:Tr:
10 Taiga du Rib (7m Nice Love - Galinette Cendree) Rd: Yoann Lebourgeois Tr: Joel Hallais
11 Quinio du Relais (10g Kitcho d'Ecajeul - Gabriella) Rd:Tr: Sebastien Hardy
12 Risque Tout (9g Giant Cat - Little Pearl) Rd: Sebastien Emmanuel Pasquier Tr: Gerard Paille 25m
13 Singalo (8h- Ingala) Rd: David Thomain Tr: 25m