France's top four-year-olds take centre stage on Saturday's card at Vincennes in the Group two Prix Ephrem Houel over 2850m with Akim du Cap Vert looking to bounce back from an unfortunate gallop at the start of his last outing in the Prix Charles Tiercelin run at a slushy Vincennes on Prix d'Amerique day.
's star 4YO son of was a heavily backed favourite that day and gave the field the best part of 70metres head start and put in a supreme effort to catch the peloton and eventually run seventh.
If he steps away, and this is from the starting shute and not from the mobile gate as it was last start, he has a great chance of winning his fourth group two, and his second this year following his success in the Prix De Tonnac-Villeneuve in January.
The winner of the Prix Charles Tierclin was Alesia d'Atout, a tough daughter of Defi d'Aunou who held off a brilliant finish from Aladin d'Ecajeul to claim her second group two.
Dominique Mottier's mare has blossomed into a genuine talent in the earlier shadow of the star trio of Axelle Dark, Avilla and Anastasia Fella, and also has the group two Prix Ozo to her name, and even more importantly for her stud career, classique status through a third placing in the Criterium Des 3 Ans. She holds the fastest record in the race with a 1.12.2kr
Axelle Dark was third in the Prix Charles Tiercelin but was several lengths in arrears of the first two. The slushy track was known to have upset a lot of the horses, and whether this has been a factor in the daughter of's lack of dash of late is open to conjecture.
Owneralso has Atlas de Jourdes entered in the race, a richly bred son of his retiring superstar who was sixth in the Prix Charles Tiercelin and slated to start stud duties in a few weeks time.
Jean-Philippe Dubois' Atlessima is a group one winner under saddle but has yet to best this generation under harness, being prominent in the Prix Charles Tiercelin before trotting roughly and breaking.
The son of Rocklyn is talented but may be being set for the Prix Louis Le Bourg on the last day of the Winter Meeting on March 1, while the best in harness of the crop will be competing in the group one Prix de Selection.
PRIX EPHREM HOUEL
Vincennes 08/02/14 FR Group 2 2 175m 4YOS â‚¬ 120 000
1 Athena de Vandel (s Prince Gede - Maelia de Vandel) Dr Cedric Megissier Tr: Cedric Megissier
2 Adio Josselyn (h- Queda Josselyn) Dr Tr: Hedi Le Bec
3 Africain (h Oardo - Kamine) DrTr: Vincent Collard
4 Ausone du Kastel (h- Lancee) Dr Emmanuel Allard Tr: Emmanuel Allard
5 Astor du Quenne (h Opus Viervil - Qualinka du Quenne) DrTr:
6 Alesia d'Atout (s Defi d'Aunou - New York Jet ) DrTr: Dominique Mottier
7 Atlessima (s Rocklyn - Noblessima) DrTr:
8 Aldo des Champs (h- Noumea des Champs) Dr Mathieu Abrivard Tr:
9 Akim du Cap Vert (h- Prima du Cap Vert) Dr Tr:
10 Axelle Dark (s- Queen des Charmes) Dr: Jos Verbeeck Tr:
by David Sanders for Harnesslink.com