Although the Vincennes Winter Meeting has been underway for the past few days it doesn’t get truly going until the Prix Reynolds tonight, a Group II international monte, which unlike many of the big races on the Vincennes track is open to geldings.
Indeed this race has been won recently by two of the greatest geldings to have raced this decade in the recently retired Rapide Lebel and Swedish star Commander Crowe, who will instead by heading to Italy this year to partake in next weekend’s Nazioni , a €308,000 international group one in Milan.
It is perhaps fitting that the horse that split their victories in 2011 and 2013 should also be making one of his last visits to the track in this race, as he again lines up in this €120,000 monte over Vincenne’s sprint distance.
Picsou Villabon has not won since he took out this very race two years ago and makes his first start back from his stud season atPascal Borderieux’s Haras des Flagues at Geuron, near Bayeux, Normandy.
A former winner of the Group one monte Prix De L'ile-De-France and four Group twos including the Prix de Reynolds, he is one of two entering the last couple of months of their careers in France.
French regulations see horses retire at 10, and it is fitting that two members of the P generation are represented in the opening group two race of the Winter Meeting, which fittingly is a monte, in which is where many of this particular crop excelled.
These include outstanding mares Priscilla Blue (Prix de l’Isle-de-France winner and second in the Prix de Cornulier), Princess Foot (Group one monte winner and placegetter), Paola De Lou (placed in four Group ones including second in Prix de Cornulier), Private Love (a group one winner and placed in the Prix de Cornulier) and Plenty Pocket (Prix de l’Isle-de-France plagetter).
The crop has also produced monte stallions at stud including the aforementioned Picsou Villabon, but also Philotenor (St Leger and Prix d’Essai winner), Paddy du Buisson (winner of two group one montes) Prince Gede (Prix de Normandie winner and Prix de Paris in the bike) and Prince de Montford (placed in four group one montes including the Prix de Cornulier). Other good P-generation males include Premiere Steed (placed in Prix Cornulier and three other Group ones ) and Pacha du Cap Vert (placed in two group one montes).
And while Picsou Villabon is a former Prix Reynolds, the most likely representative of the crop of 2003 to make an impression in this race is Pluto du Vivier.
Jean-Christophe Sorel’s gelding has won two monte races in his last five starts (the last one in June) and has actually won five of his sixteen career victories in this his last season – taking his total earnings to over €828,000.
But as usual in the Prix Reynolds, there are some outstanding horses in this field including the likely favourite Roxane Griff, who is a group winner over the toughest race of them all, the 4000m Prix De Paris. Sebastien Guarato’s star mare was also second in three Group ones including the greatest of them all the Grand Prix d’Amerique plus the Prix de l’Atlantique and Prix Rene Balliere. She will be at very short odds one would imagine.
But also likely to be heavily backed is Quarry Bay, another outstanding mare and a genuine star of monte races.
Mike Lender’s charge was second in this season’s Prix du Cornulier, the second richest in race in France, and the greatest under saddle race in the world, the renewal of which is one of the features of this Winter Season at Vincennes.
The nine-year-old daughter of Cygnus d'Odyssee was also second in this year’s Group One Prix de l’le-de-France and has earning less than 70,000 euros short of being a millionaire.
She was fouled out of her last start, the marathon Prix de la Ville de Caen which was won by Swedish invader Global Manhattan, and her previous start was tenth in a minor race in Rambouillet, a conditioning evenrt which saw several topliners such as Texas Charm and Royal Dream get in some prep.
But these races were in the bike, and Quarry Bay is a different horse under saddle, and is coming off two group twos victories in May and April, and a second placing in March. She is going to be very hard to beat with regular rider Camille Levesque aboard.
The T generation, the crop which left the assurances of age group racing this season to mix it permanently with the big guns in open class elite racing is represented by two rising monte stars in Taiga du Rib and Torre Crepin.
Taiga du Rib ran third in the Group one Prix De Normandie in 2012. He has been mixing both saddle and bike this season and has been doing far better under saddle, with a win, four thirds and two fourths in his last seven starts, all Group II montes.
Torre Crepin was second in the Prix Alfred Lefevre, a Group three monte on this track late last month, and all of Bruno Marie’s gelding’s seven career wins have been at Vincennes under saddle.
Former Group one Prix des Centaures winner Saphir de Morge is also in the field. Frank Terry’s stallion is having only his third run back after more than a year off and will need to be taken on trust.
30/10/13 Group II Int monte 2175m 5-10 €120,000
1 Torre Crepin (6g Capriccio - Lanaka Franck Nivard) Rd: Tr: Bruno Marie
2 Saphir de Morge (7h Guenor - Folie de Morge) Rd: Pierre Yves Verva Tr: Franck Terry
3 Sakura Jiel (7m Buvetier d'Aunou - Milady Jiel) Rd: Guillaume Martin Tr: Jean Luc Dersoir
4 Petit Javanais (10h Diamant Gede - Grande Java) Rd: Yoann Lebourgeois Tr: Herve Houel
5 Ratio Thieben (8g Tenor de Baune - In Brasilia) Rd: Olivier Touvais Tr: Jean Baptiste Bossuet
6 Taiga du Rib (6m Nice Love - Galinette Cendree) Rd: Jean Loic Claude Dersoir Tr: Joel Hallais
7 Picsou de Villabon (10h Speed Clayettois - Ghiza du Chene) Rd: Medhy Hadjira Tr: Patrick Labrousse
8 Pluto du Vivier (10g Extreme Dream - Iguine du Vivier) Rd: Mathieu Abrivard Tr: Jean Christophe Sorel
9 Quarry Bay (9m Cygnus d'Odyssee - Barcarolle) Rd: Camille Levesque Tr: Mike Lenders
10 Risque Tout (8g Giant Cat - Little Pearl ) Rd: Julien Raffestin Tr: Gerard Paille
11 Roxane Griff (8m Tenor de Baune - Julia Mesloise) Rd: Eric Raffin Tr: Sebastien Guarato