The Prix Jean Le Gonidec, an international group two sprint race for 5YOs begins a big week of racing at Vincennes with no less than five group races spread over three days of action as the Winter Meeting heads into its final three weeks.
Former Italian Derby winner Pascia'Lest heads an international contingent of two Italians and a Swede who will take on the cream of the French V-crop in this 120,000 euro race over 2175m on the grand piste.
, the Italian superstar who was the last horse from Italy to win the Prix d'Amerique, is the sire of both the Italian entrants, Pascia'Lest and Princess Grif and both are trained in France, the former by 's trainer and the latter by , who has a large international clientele in his superb facilities at Haras de Ginai.
Pascia'Lest Italian career included wins in the Group one GP Allevatori, GP Giovanardi, GP Nazionale alongside the Derby and a clutch of group twos including the Fyraaringseliten for 4YOs at Solvalla.
But the racing in Vincennes is much tougher, and though he finished third in the Prix Marcel Laurent to Victoire in February, he finished down the track in the Prix du Bourbonnais against the elite older horses and then could only manage seventh against his age-group in the Criterium Continental, won again by Victoire.
Princess Grif is a dual group one winner in Italy, with wins in the Prix de Milan and GP d'Europa and she also ran a brave third in Save The Quick's world record setting European Championship for Mares last year. Encouragingly she was fifth last start against most of this field in the Prix de Croix at Vincennes.
Sixth in that race was the Swedish horse System Performance, a mare by former-Hambletonian winnerwho is trained by one of Sweden's top trainers .
System Performance was an outstanding 3YO in Sweden, winning the prestigious E3 Langa over a similar distance at Eskilstuna, and was runner-up in the sprint equivalent on the way to a record of six wins and two placings in her first nine starts. She has had only one win in 19 starts since although she has regularly placed and her sixth placing was her best in three starts in during the Winter Meeting.
Criterium Continental winner Victoire will be a short odds favourite for this race. Danielle Mottier's daughter ofhas won three of four big races this Meeting, her only failure being when she galloped while taking on the older horses in the Prix de Belgique.
She will face stiff competition from the two who crossed the line with her in the Criterium Continental,'s son of , Village Mystic, a group one winner and very consistent performer and, one of the generation's big improvers Viking de Val.
Eric Lambertz' son of Baccarat du Pont has only recently made group company, and has recorded a sixth, third and second in his three Winter Meeting starts.
Also in the field is the once dominant force of this generation,'s Vanika du Ruel, a four-time group one winner. She raced without success in the Prix d'Amerique and will appreciate the return to age group company after racing against the world's elite in all the B races and the PDA.
But realistically, she has struggled here too, with a second placing in the Prix de Wazieres in April last year, her best effort in 12 months - and she hasn't won since December 2012.
PRIX JEAN LE GONIDEC Vincennes
06/02/14 Group II Euro 2175m 5YOs 120 000 euros
1 Vicomte Boufarcaux (5h Oh James - Olympe du Boufard) Dr: Yoann Lebourgeois Tr: Michael Jean Ruault
2 System Performance (5m- Hermit Lady) Dr: Tr:
3 Voyage de Reve (5h Password - Kiocalba) Dr:Tr:
4 Volcan d'Urzy (5h Password - Jabotte d'Urzy) Dr:Tr:
5 Viking de Val (5h Baccarat du Pont - La Forge de Val) Dr: Eric Lambertz Tr: Eric Lambertz
6 Vaux le Vicomte (5h Nahar de Beval - Nina du Beauvoisin) Dr:Tr:
7 Vive Daidou (5m Ouragan de Celland - Orange Douce) Dr:Tr:
8 Princess Grif (5m- Fauve Grif) Dr: Mathieu Abrivard Tr:
9 Vigove (5h Gazouillis - Govive) Dr: Pierre Vercruysse Tr:
10 Vipsie Griff (5m- Ojipsie Griff) Dr: Pierre Yves Verva Tr:
11 Village Mystic (5h- Netchka d'Orgeres) Dr: Tr:
12 Victoire (5m- Juventa Blue) Dr: Tr: Danielle Mottier
13 Pascia' Lest (5h- Superiors Sun) Dr: Jos Verbeeck Tr:
14 Vanika du Ruel (5m- Jacarandine) Dr: Tr:
by David Sanders for Harnesslink..com