The A generation males line up for the Prix Phaeton on Saturday, the traditional warm-up race for the Criterium des 3 Ans which takes place early next month.
Like the female equivalent, the top earning stallions (geldings are ineligible for classic races in France) have elected to sit this one out, with Akim de Cap Vert, Aladin d'Ecajuel and Atlas de Joudes mixing stud and racing duties for the first time this year.
You can be sure they will be lining up in the first of major Criterium of the spring meeting, but in their absence it will probably be Mathieu Abrivard's Aldo des Champs, the winner of the Prix Kalmia (G2) who will be the favourite in an even field.
Aldo des Champs was a fine third in his last start, the Group one Prix de Selection inter-age classique, where he followed home Aladin d'Ecajeul and Uhlan du Val.
Admittedly off the front mark, he nevertheless beat home the likes of Village Mystic, Univers de Pan and Voltiguer de Myrt, all of which are the acknowledged rising stars in French trotting as their burgeoning stud careers attest.
American Eagle, a son of dual Prix d'Amerique winneris a placegetter under saddle in his only start in a group race to date. But the winner of three of his 23 starts, was a winner of a group three under harness last start in February and has been a steady improver for Jean Etienne Dubois.
's Astor du Quenne has won 10 races out of 22 but all but the last three were at a very low level in the provinces. However he showed he could foot it at Vincennes when he won three in a row in the hands of , including the group two Prix Ephrem Houel, in his first group race two starts back.
It earned him a start in the Prix de Selection but, with Raffin on stable star Aladin d'Ecajeul, master drivertook the reins to no avail. Despite a brilliant beginning, and setting the pace, the short-striding rather diminutive son of Opus Viervil galloped just after the turn after having been swamped by the first three placegetters.
It was nevertheless a promising run, and he will not have the same quality of opposition bearing down on him this time.
fronts up with yet another promising son of boom sire in Arlington Dream, the winner of four of his twelve starts, with a second and a third. Every other start has ended in a gallop, including his last one at the end of January. This is his first group race and he has Yoann Lebourgeois in the bike.
Adio Josselyn also usually runs a high placing if he trots all the way round, and within the bike, the son of breed-changing stallion also comes into the equation.
05/04/14 FR Group 2, Nat 2850m 4M 120 000
1 Arlington Dream h (- Ialla Clairchamp) Dr: Yoann Lebourgeois Tr: 2850
2 Athos des Elfes h (- Lazio du Bourg) Dr: Joel Van Eeckhaute Tr: Joel Van Eeckhaute 2850
3 All Feeling h (Otello Pierji - Quelle Cerencaise) Dr:Tr: Mickael Lemercier 2850
4 Airport h (- Pivoine) Dr: Tr: Ake Kristoffersson 2850
5 Adio Josselyn h (- Queda Josselyn) Dr: Tr: Hedi Le Bec 2850
6 Africain h (Oardo - Kamine) Dr:Tr: Vincent Collard 2850
7 American Eagle (h- Paradise's Key) Dr: Jean Etienne Dubois Tr: Jean Etienne Dubois 2850
8 Astor du Quenne (h Opus Viervil - Qualinka du Quenne) Dr:Tr: 2850
9 Aldo des Champs (h- Noumea des Champs) Dr: Mathieu Abrivard Tr: 2850
Avila handicapped in Prix Paul Legeurney
Brilliant Ready Cash mare Avila will give the rest of the field of the Group two Prix Paul Legeurney a 25m head start at Vincennes on Saturday.
The race is the first of two female warm ups for the Criterium des 4 Ans, which takes place next month and Avila is the undoubted star of the field, which is minus several other leading A-generation female candidates such as Axelle Dark, Anastasia Fella, and Arca des Jacquets,
Avila is a dual group one winner already having taken the first of her generation’s Criteriums (des Jeunes) last season and then prevailed in the intergenerational Prix de Etoiles in September.
However she was overshadowed in the Criterium des 3 Ans, where she broke when under pressure on the final turn and her last start was an average sixth (and third filly home) in the group two Prix de Tonnac-Villeneuve, a race in which she was fourth favourite.
This is her first race since that early January start, and it will be interesting to see how she deals with a field of lesser or emerging lights of the four-year-old crop.
Atlessima and Alesia d’Atout definitely fall into the latter category, both running second and third in the group two Prix Ephrem Houel last month.
Atlessima is a group one winner under saddle but the member of the powerful Ecurie Victoria Dreams stable has two of her four wins under saddle, to go with her group two placing. She is a daughter of Rocklyn, a son of Love You and will probably start the race as favourite.
Africaine is a grand-daughter of Prix de Selection winner Autour d'Aunou, one of the top mares of the previous A generation. From the stable of Jean Etienne Dubois, she has been somewhat eclipsed by the deeds of Avila, Anastasia Fella and Axelle Dark as most of this age group have.
But the daughter of Oiseau de Feux has quietly accumulating some solid form for Jean Etienne Dubois, winning an 85,000 euro event in Vincennes in early February, and backing that up with a second to Cedric Megissier’s Athena de Vandel (another up and comer) last start in the 95,000 euro Prix Vindex.
This pair look to be on the improve and have significant support in the early market.
Alesia d’Atout showed her class when she was the first filly home in the Criterium des 3 Ans, eclipsing the once all conquering trio of Avila, Axelle Dark and Anastasia Fella.
Danielle Mottier’s talented daughter of Defi d'Aunou has already won two group twos and amassed 261,260 euros and will also be right in this.
PRIX PAUL LEGUERNEY
05/04/14 FR Group 2 Nat 2850 4F 120,000 euros
1 Agora (Prodigious - Ibiza des Brisants) Dr: Mathieu Abrivard Tr: Alexandre Buisson 2850
2 Agneska (Quaker Jet - Pocahontas) Dr: Gregory Simon Tr: Jean Etienne Dubois 2850
3 Agrippine (Hasting - Moqueuse) Dr: Laurent Claude Abrivard Tr: Laurent Claude Abrivard 2850
4 Adelie (Ganymede - Linea Dream) Dr: Alexandre Abrivard Tr: Laurent Claude Abrivard 2850
5 Athena de Vandel (Prince Gede - Maelia de Vandel) Dr: Cedric Megissier Tr: Cedric Megissier 2875
6 Aquarelle de Fael (Look de Star - Nadia Pierji) Dr: Franck Nivard Tr: Thierry Duvaldestin 2850
7 Africaine (Oiseau de Feux - Italienne) Dr: Jean Etienne Dubois Tr: Jean Etienne Dubois 2850
8 Alizea du Kastel (Quaker Jet - Kalida Jet) Dr: Emmanuel Allard Tr: Emmanuel Allard 2875
9 Alesia d'Atout (Defi d'Aunou - New York Jet) Dr: Mathieu Mottier Tr: Dominique Mottier 2850
10 Atlessima (Rocklyn - Noblessima) Julien Dubois Tr: Philippe Moulin 2850
11 Avila (Ready Cash - Encombevineuse) Thierry Duvaldestin Tr: Thierry Duvaldestin 2875
Roxane Griff heads Masters series monte field
Roxane Griff heads a star studded monte field for the UET Masters Series international group two Prix Theophile Lallouet at Vincennes on Saturday, over 2700m.
The Prix du Cornulier winner’s last start was a courageous third in the Grand Prix de Paris, the gruelign 4.1km marathon and the third leg of the French triple crown. She had run fourth in the first leg, the Prix d’Amerique.
But it has been under saddle that Sebastien Guarato’s 9YO daughter of Tenor De Baune, who has earned 2.25 million euros from 17 career victories, has found a new lease of life recently, winning three of her four monte races in the recently completed Winter Meeting including the 700,000 euro world championship (Prix du Cornulier) in late January in the hands of regular rider Eric Raffin.
She will face stiff opposition from the likes of Mike Lenders grand old campaigner Quarry Bay, who won his last start, the 120,000 euro Prix Henri Desmontils, at the start of the month, defeating Rapide du Digeon, Torre Crepin and Utoky who he meets again here. The 10YO son of Cygnus d'Odyssee is the second favourite on the early tote
Former age group star Utoky is also well supported. The winner of both monte group ones for 3 and 4YOs (Prix de Vincennes and Prix du President de la Republic) is trained by Franck Leblanc in the famous light blue colours of Comte Pierre de Montesson, who will be remembered by older US harness racing folk as the owner of Une de Mai.
The son of Cygnus d'Odyssee also mixes racing with stud duties at the Lebanc’s Haras d’Avireau establishment.
Torre Crepin is one of those horses who has just taken a long time to reach the top level,and one wonders how he would have fared in any other country where patience is not so fully rewarded .
It took the altered son of Capriccio 64 starts to reach the prizemoney level to get a start in a group two just six months ago, indeed he didn’t win his first race until his 34th start – and remarkably his 30th attempt under saddle.
Remember they pay down to seventh placing in France, and so fourth place in 100,000 euro events can pay the bills, and some, and Torre Crepin has had four fourth placings and a win in the seven starts since he raced in his first group two in October last year.
From a slow start, over the past couple of years he has been a gradual improver and he has now won eight races and as a consistent placegetter as he made his way through the intermediate events at Vincennes has now amassed the not insignificant sum of 470,330 euros.
Thierry Raffegeau’s Rapide du Digeon is also well supported while the next in the market is the Italian bred gelding Nene'Degli Ulivi from the stable of Vincent Lacroix.
PRIX THEOPHILE LALLOUET
05/04/14 Int (Group 2)monte UET Masters Series 2 700 5-10 120 000
1 Decarone (10h Supergill - Spinoni Bell) Philippe Masschaele Rd: Tr: Mme G Masschaele 2700
2 Rescousse de Barb (9m L'As de Viretaute - Gaie Melodie) Rd: Pierre Yves Verva Tr: Guillaume Moinon 2700
3 Nene'Degli Ulivi (7g Uconn Roc - Maureen Lobell) Rd: Alexandre Abrivard Tr: Vincent Lacroix 2700
4 Remember Jihem (9h Jag de Bellouet - Feriana) Rd: Fabien Gence Tr: Jean Marie Monclin 2700
5 Torre Crepin (7g Capriccio - Lanaka) Rd: Adrien Lamy Tr: Bruno Marie 2700
6 Utoky (6h Cygnus d'Odyssee - Epopee) Rd: Franck Nivard Tr: Franck Leblanc 2700
7 Rapide du Digeon (9g Urfist des Pres - Gerveine Barbes) Rd: Damien Bonne Tr: Thierry Raffegeau 2700
8 Riglorieux du Bois (9g Indy de Vive - Glorieuse du Bois) Rd: Quentin Seguin Tr: Henk Grift 2700
9 Risque Tout (9g Giant Cat - Little Pearl) Rd: Julien Raffestin Tr: Gerard Paille 2700
10 Quarry Bay (10m Cygnus d'Odyssee - Barcarolle) Rd: Camille Levesque Tr: Mike Lenders 2700
11 Roxane Griff (9m Tenor de Baune - Julia Mesloise) Rd: Eric Raffin Tr: Sebastien Guarato 2700