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Today’s excellent groupe action at Paris-Vincennes saw Earl Simon (4m Prodigious-Tindrana) take the Gr. II Prix Octave Douesnel (purse 120,000€, 2700 meters, four year olds) as the 2/5 favorite. Franck Ouvrie teamed the winner for trainer Jarmo Niskanen and Ecurie Skytten that was clocked in 1.13kr off even fractions. The 7.1/1 Eridan (4m Ready Cash-Topaze d’Atout) was second, handled by David Thomain for trainer Sebastien Guarato and owner Philippe Dewulf. Third went to the 5.9/1 Express Jet (4m Goetmals Wood-Run For Jet) that was reined by trainer Pierre Vercruysse and owner Ecurie des As. The winning Earl Simon is a model of consistency, now with 10 career victories in 17 starts, for 498,950€ earned. Three year olds were on stage in the Prix de Mansle (Gr. III, purse 76,000€, 2100 meters autostart). The early fractions were quick and it led to a 1.12.5kr timed victory for 9/1 Fuego de Houelle (3g Rieussec-Pin Up de Houelle) teamed with Adrien Lamy. Franck Leblanc trains the winner for owner Andre Carree. The 6.3/1 Flambeau Royal (3m Look de Star-Rodea Josselyn) was second with Jean Michel Bazire up and the 2/1 favorite Falco d’Heripre (3m Goetmals Wood-Vedeltad d’Heripre) held third for Franck Nivard. The day’s Quinte+ event was the Prix Chinon (purse 50,000€, 2175 meters, 16 starters) and long odds top five finishers created a 149,528€ exact order payoff for the 2€ wager. The race winner was 7.7/1 Erolina (4f Prodigious-Keralda) clocked in 1.12.4kr. Eric Raffin teamed the mare that was bred and is owner/trained by Alphonse Vanberghen. 6.3/1 Etones de Carsi (4f Okepi de Fael) was a good second with Yoann Lebourgeois teaming for trainer Franck Leblanc. The 5.6/1 Eclipse d’Orient (4f Un Mec d’Heripre) was third with J.Ph. Monclin up for trainer Jarmo Niskanen. 49/1 Elite du Lys and 40/1 Endiablee completed the top five to the line. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink  

Salome’ Bar (7f Ganymede-Acquavita Bar-Crowning Point) took Saturday’s Kincsem Park featured Feiser Memorial (purse 800,000Huf, 1900 meters autostart) timed in 1.18.9kr. The 2.2/1 favorite was reined by Bernadett Balogh for trainer Jozsef Rutkai. The winner rallied from far back, journeyed three wide in the last bend and drew off to an easy victory, defeating 14.8/1 Dabano As (7m Abano As) with Csaba Lakatos up for trainer Tibor Hajnal. Third was the 2.6/1 second choice Sanger Ms (8g Victory Scream) handled by Goran Zolnaji. The undercard was highlighted by the Palmyra DIJ (purse 600,000Huf, 1900 meters autostart) and the 1.2/1 favorite Iago d’Amore (4m Mago d’Amore-Indyran-Uronometro) scored easily for driver Imre Fazekas and trainer Zoltan Ozvar. Race time was 1.17kr. 14.1/1 Rocky HR (6m Roc de Montfort) was second driven by Balazs Juhasz and third went to 56.4/1 odds outsider Timoko RL (5m Doctor Sugar RL) for trainer/driver Robert Varhidi. The same day action was at Bergsaker SWE with their V5 Gold Hilda Zolnetts (200,000SEK to the winner, 2640 meters autostart) won by the 1.24/1 favorite Zenit Brick (7g Make It Happen-Exc Svard-Super Arnie) with Mika Forss driving. Timo Nurmos trains the now the 21 time winner in 69 starts for 4,507,396SEK earned. Race time was 1.16kr. Zenit Brick has won three of his last four outings. 9.4/1 veteran On Track Piraten (10g Kool du Caux) took second for driver Oskar J. Andersson and trainer Hans R. Stromberg, ahead of 91/1 West Wing (10g Steinlager) reined by Tomas Pettersson. Digital Ink and Mind Your Face completed the top five. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink  

An array of excellent groupe contests were on today’s Paris-Vincennes harness racing program, but, before those events began was the monte Prix de Seiches-sur-Le- Loir (purse 80,000€, 215 meters). The quick timed 1.12.2krwinner was the 9/10 favorite Daytona Jet (5f Goetmals Wood-Run For Jet) with Mlle. Mathilde Collet in the irons for trainer Stephane Meunier. She scored for the seventh time in a 41 start career, now for 269,210€ earned.  The 57/1 outsider Caporal de Bry (6g Singalo-One Class) was second for jockey Julien Balu, and third was 14/1 Cash du Rib (6g Ready Cash) for trainer/jockey J.L.Cl. Dersoir. The Gr. II Prix Albert Rayon (purse 76,000€, 2100 meters autostart, three year olds, nine starters) started the groupe events and it was narrowly won by the 1.1/1 favorite Fubria (3f Password-Sanawa) timed in 1.14.2kr with a powerful last 500 for Yoann Lebourgeois. Fubria now has five career wins in nine starts for 100,500€ earned. The 21/1 Frostie Love (3f Sam Bourbon-Ustie Love) was second for Eric Raffin and owner/trainer Etienne Dubois. Third went to 8.5/1 Famous Quality (3f Rocklyn-Union Quality) with Jean Philippe Dubois the breeder/driver. Next up was the Gr. II Prix Raoul Balliere (monte, purse 120,000€, 2175 meters, three year olds). The 3/5 favorite Feeling Cash (3m Ready Cash-Royale Star) was victorious timed in 1.12.9kr. Yoann Lebougeois was up for owner Carlos Lerner and trainer Philippe Allaire.  This colt recorded hius sixth career win in 19 outings, now for 416,450€ earned. 3/1 Fado du Chene (3m Singalo) was second for P.Ph. Ploquin, trainer Julien LeMer and owner Claude Guedj. 22/1 Flore de Janeiro (3f Vanishing Point) was third for Anthony Barrier and owner/trainer Franck Blandin. 6.2/1 Ferreteria (3f Goetmals Wood) ended fourth. The feautured event this day was the Gr. II Prix Ariste Hemard (purse 120,000€, 200 meters, four yer olds). The 1.13.9kr timed winner was the 2/5 favorite Erming d’Oliverie (4f Scipion du Goutier-Theze d’Oliverie) with Franck Nivard up. Ecurie d’Oliverie owns this Franck Leblanc trainee that now has 13 career wins in 26 starts for 940,990€ in earnings. The 13/1 Estola (4f Nectar-Nika) was second for Bjorn Goop, driving for trainer Emmanuel Ruault. and owner Ecurie Comte P. de Montesson. 21/1 Extra Light (4f Village Mystic) was third with David Thomain up. Vincennes also hosted the day’s Q+ event in the Prix d’Hautefort (purse 58,000€, 2100 meters autostart, 15 European starters). The 1.9/1 odds Valokaja Hindu (7m Great Challenger-Hindu Enghave) scored for trainer/driver Jean Michel Bazire timed in 1.12.3kr. The Norwegian invader now has four wins in FR from six starts and career earnings reached 206,754€.  The 12/1 Blue Ciel (7g Milord Drill) was second for David Thomain, and third was 52/1 Pave The Way (10g Pearsall Hanover-Hot Pants) for Alexandre Abrivard. 28/1 Aqi des Crerves and 12/1 Vixel completed the exact order top five. Winning 2€ ticketholders received 20,328€. The Gr. III Prix Narquois (purse 95,000€, 2700 meters) completed the day’s groupe races and this one showcased another impressive victory by the 7/10 favorite Dreambreaker (5g Offshore Dream-Brooke Boko) with trainer Jean Michel Bazire driving. The winner is owned in Germany by Stall Oberkracher and now has posted five wins in nine starts in FR for career earnings of 206,754€. Dreambreaker raced much of the way in the second tier before powering to the front in the lane. 19/1 Delloro Vedaquais (5g Ready Cash-Spandelle) was second with J.Ph. Monclin up for owner/trainer Philippe Allaire. 19/1 Super Nice (5m Orlando Vici-Flax Avenue) took third for trainer/driver Bjorn Goop. 18/1 Handsome Brad (5m Brad de Veluve-Ulrica M) was third for driover C.J. Jepson. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink  

December 7, 2018 - The 1.3/1 odds favorite Dorado Bello (5g Pad d’Urzy-Jora de du Fruituies) took the Friday evening harness racing featured Quinte+ Prix Hestia (purse 50,000€, 2100 meters autostart, 16 starters) timed in 1.12.4kr. The now seven time winner in 27 career starts, Dorado Bello was teamed with Eric Raffin for trainer J.M. Baudouin and owner Ecurie le Rivage. Dreamer de Chenu (5g Timoko) at 11/1 was second for driver J-M Bazire and breeder/owner/trainer Franck Pellerot. 21/1 Dandy Gede (5g Rancho Gede) took third for driver Damien Bonne. 12/1 Devil Or Angel and 11/1 Dad du Cedre completed the top five, and the exact order 2€ ticket Q+ payoff was 8,556.40€. On Saturday there are a host of groupe contests worth the watch: Prix Albert Rayon (Gr. III, 76,000€, 2100 meters autostart, three year olds) led by Fabria; Prix Raoul Balliere (Gr. II monte, 120,000€, 2175 meters) with Ferreteria, Feeling Cash and Flamme Speed among the starters; Prix Ariste Hearard (Gr. II, purse 120,000€, 2700 meters, four year olds) with Elladora de Forgan and Electra Jet in the field; Prix Narquois (Gr. III, purse 95,000€, 2700 meters, European eligibles) with J-M Bazire’s Dreambreaker at the start The Sunday menu includes three more groupe events: Prix Octave Douesnel (Gr. II, purse 120,000€, 2700 meters, four year olds) led by Earl Simon Prix de Mansle (Gr. III, purse 76,000€, 2100 meters autostart, three year olds) with Fun Quick and Fuego de Houelle at the start; Grand Prix du Bourbonnais (Gr. II International, 120,000€ purse, 2850 meters) with the now barefoot Bold Eagle in the field – he previously raced with shoes on behind). Bold Eagle was last year second in the Bourbonnais, Bourgogne, Belgique, Amerique and de France before winning the Criterium de Vitesse at Cagnes sur Mer in March. Thomas H. Hicks    

December 6, 2018 - The Thursday Quinte+ race was the Prix de Blois (purse 95,000€, 2100 meters autostart, European eligibles) at Paris-Vincennes. Victory went to the 3/2 favorite Bel Avis (7g Ganymede-Gloria Maris) reined by harness racing trainer Jean Michel Bazire to his 16th career victory in 47 starts. Bred by Comte de Bellaigue, Bel Avis is now owned by New Blue 1 LLC (USA) and has earned 582,390€ for his career. 8.4/1 Day Or Night In (6m Muscle Hill-Ellie America) was second, with trainer Johan Untersteiner aboard for Stall Invexbo AB. 5.5/1 odds Clif du Pommereux (6m Love You-Noune du Pommereux) earned the third spot with Damien Bonne driving for owner Noel Lolic and trainer Sylvain Roger. The 36/1 outsider Bolide Jenilou (g Kesaco Phedo) and 20/1 Attacus (8g Hand du Vivier) completed the top five with the exact order 2€ ticket paying 19,651.80€. Sharon Gar and Ranch Kelly earned the sixth and seventh place checks. The Prix de Murat (purse 54,000€, 2850 meters, 16 European starters) saw 6.8/1 Nancy America (7f Revenue-Camargue) score timed in 1.13.6kr with Franck Nivard up for Stall Leumas and trainer Philippe Billard. This winning mare, the legendary Revenue, now has career earnings of 211,108€, as she defeated the 1.7/1 favorite Contree d’Erable (6f Prince Gede) handled by David Thomain and 9/1 Bahamas Quick (7f Pim Quick) that Yoann Lebourgeois reined for Ecurie Quick Star and trainer Franck Leblanc. Four year olds contested the Prix de Saint-Aubin-Les Elbeuf (purse 85,000€, 2850 meters) that saw 2.2/1 Eclipse Danika (4f Hasting-Odyssee du Ravary) rally from the near the back to win timed in 1.14kr. Bryan Coppens reined the winner that now has earned 220,960€ for the career. Comte P de Senneville owns and Pierre Vercruysse trains the winner. The 7.6/1 odds Ethien du Vivier (4m Sancho Turgot-Nomiva du Vivier) was second, handled by Bjorn Goop for trainer Tomas Malmqvist. 18/1 Eliseo (4g Timoko) was third for trainer Adrien Lamy and breeder/trainer Frederic Prat.9 Sunday is the Gr.II Prix de Bourbonnais that is now down to 12 starters led by Bold Eagle and a host of FR challengers including Belina Josselyn, Bird Parker and Traders. Trainers Philippe Allaire and Sebastien Guarato are each sending three trainees into battle. Thomas H. Hicks

After Bold Eagle finished a disappointing fourth in the first qualification race at Vincennes for the Prix d’Amerique, the winningest harness racing active French trotter will race again on Sunday (Dec. 9) in the second qualification race, the Prix du Bourbonnais. For the first time ever, Bold Eagle will race without all four shoes. Normally he races only with shoes behind, but trainer Sebastian Guarato has decided to try something new by removing the front shoes. Only 12 horses were entered in the Prix du Bourbonnais and just one is trained outside France, Uza Josselyn, a Danish registered mare owned and trained in Switzerland. Among the 12 starters, two have already qualified for the Prix d’Amerique, Delia du Pommereux and Bird Parker, who finished second and third, respectively, in the first qualifier. The three first finishers in the Prix du Bourbonnais will also qualify for a spot in the field for the Prix d’Amerique. Following are the entries for the $135,000 Prix du Bourbonnais: 1 Cash Gamble (SE) – Franck Ouvrie – Philippe Billard 2 Delia du Pommereux – Damien Bonné – Sebastian Roger 3 Briac Dark – Matthieu Abrivard – Thierry Duvaldestin 4 Charly du Noyer – Anthony Barier – Philippe Allaire 5 Uza Josselyn (DK) – Alexandre Abrivard – René Aebischer 6 Carat Williams – David Thomain – Sebastian Guarato 7 Traders – Yoann Lebourgeois – Philippe Allaire 8 Valko Jenilat -Eric Raffin – Sebastian Guarato 9 Voltigeur de Myrt – Lorenzo Donati – Roberto Donati 10 Belina Josselyn – Jean Michel Bazire 11 Bird Parker – Jean Philippe Monclin – Philippe Allaire 12 Bold Eagle – Franck Nivard – Sebastian Guarato. by Karsten Bønsdorf, USTA Senior Newsroom Correspondent Courtesy of The United States Trotting Association

December 5, 2018 - The Wednesday harness racing Q+ race was the Prix de la Ville de Royan (purse 50,000€, 2850 meters, 13 European starters) at Paris-Vincennes. Victory went to 10/1 odds Chistera (6f Qwerty-Medici) driven by J.Ph. Monclin for trainer J.P. Lecourt. This Pierre Levesque bred mare was timed in 1.13.9kr. The 9/1 Class Thourjan (6f Rolling d’Heripre) was second for owner/trainer/driver Anthony Dollion. Caresse (6f Ready Cash-Stefani Hanover) was third driven by David Thomain for trainer Bjorn Goop. 2.9/1 Coumba and 12/1 Chacha de Goutier completed the top five, with the exact order Q+ 2€ ticket paying 5,487€. On the card was the Prix d’Houfleur (monte, purse 80,000€, 2175 meters, 12 starters) and it produced a quick timed 1.12kr victory for 27/1 Voltorb d’Oliverie (9g Mourofais-Betty d’Oliverie) with Franck Nivard in the irons for trainer Sebastien Houyvet and owner Serge Gabriel. The 9/10 favorite Beau de Grimoult (7g Pacifique Gede) was second for jockey Yoann Lebourgeois and third was 55/1 Uranium (10g Jag de Bellouet) with P-Y Verva up. Earlier on the Wednesday Vincennes program was the Prix de Bourigny (purse 70,000€, 2850 meters, 11 starters) and that victory was earned by the 1.14.5kr timed and 3/2 odds Dostoievski (5g Ganymede-Nuor des Charmes) with trainer Jean Michel Bazire driving. Ecurie des Charmes owns the winner that defeated 7/2 odds Dollar Soyer (5g Phlegyas) reined by Anthony Barrier for trainer Gregory Thorel. Tuesday’s Q+ was also at Paris-Vincennes in the Prix de Laon (purse 37,000€, 2700 meters, 18 starters) and the 1.14.4kr timed winner was 3.2/1 odds Elorious de Guez (4g Look de Star-Quazirette de Guez) reined by his trainer Jean Michel Bazire, for breeder/owner Ecurie Vautors. Second was 7/2 odds Eliot d’Ambri (4g Ti Punch River) for Yoann Lebourgeois and third went to 73/1 Euzo Viva (4g Kiwi). Completing the top five were 12/1 Enjoleor Leman (4g Hulk des Champs) and 118/1 Exil d’Erable (4g Coktail Jet) and the exact order Q+ payoff was 56,677€ for the 2€ wager. On the same card was the Prix des Pyrennes (purse 50,000€, 2850 meters, 12 European starters). The 27/1 odds Mellby Drake (6g Viking Kronos-U.Don’t Wanna Know) scored timed in 1.15kr for driver Matthieu Abrivard, trainer Robert Bergh and owner Mellby Gard AB. 1.2/1 favorite Bryssel (6m Ready Cash-Spacelane) took third for trainer/driver Bjorn Goop, ahead of 7/1 Crazy Charm (6g Prodigious-Know How) reined by trainer Pierre Vercruysse. Sunday at Vincennes is the next “B” race, the Gr. II Prix du Bourbonnais, with the top three finishers receiving an invitation to the Prix d’Amerique. The field will battle over 2850 meters for the 120,000€ purse and the lineup is shown below. Thomas H. Hicks

December 3, 2018 - The 3.1/1 Bayokas Atout (7g Goetmals Wood-New York Jet) was an easy winner of today’s harness racing Quinte + Prix des Alpes (purse 48,000€, 2100 mater autostart, 18 starters) at Paris-Vincennes. Frank Nivard trains and drove the winner to this 1.12.3kr timed victory. 5.8/1 Bikini (7g Niky) was second for trainer/driver Franck Ouvrie ahead of 8.7/1 Abercrombis (8g Hyperis) handled by trainer/driver J-F Senet. 53/1 Atios Fortis and 21/1 Bibette de Bannes completed the top five in exact order that paid 12,152.60€ for a 2€ wager. On the same card was the Prix des Dahlias (33,000€ purse, 2700 meters, 12 two year old starters) that the 4/5 favorite Gordon Flash (2m Village Mystic-Acienda Flash) won timed in 1.1.3kr with J-M Bazire aboard. Y-A Briand trains the winner that bested 18/1 Gilmour (2m Tag Wood) and 4.8/1 Georgio (2m Un Charme Fou) Four year olds contested the Prix de Maintenon (purse 60,000€, 2850 meters, 11 starters) and the 1.15.9kr timed victory went to 1.2/1 Emiliano (4m Love You-Quarda du Rib) with trainer J-M Bazire up for breeder/owner Ecurie des Charmes. 4.1/1 Elu de Dompierre (4m Vanishing Point) and 2.7/1 Estaban Jiel (4m Coktail Jet) completed the top three to the line. Thomas H. Hicks  

December 2, 2018 - The fast Urlo dei Venti (5m Mago d’Amore-Armbro Wealthy-Malabar Man) took Sunday’s harness racing featured Gran Premio Duomo (purse 154,000€, 1600 meters autostart) at Firenze, Italy, timed in 1.10.5kr, and reined by Antonio Greppi. He score by three lengths over Santiago d’Ete (7m Daguet Rapide-Love Me Tender-Supergill) driven by Santo Mollo and third finishing Uragano Trebi’ (5m Nad Al Sheba-Istoria Bi-Toss Out) with Roberto Vecchione aboard. Ua Huka and Arazi Boko took the fourth and fifth checks. The final of the three FEGAT events was the Premio FEGAT Lady Drivers #3 (purse 7,700€, 2020 meters) and the 1.15.8kr timed winner was Vienna As (4f Napoleon-Flaminia Bi-Supergill) with Hiltja Tjaisma aboard, she from the Netherlands and the victory secured her first place with 34 points. Ummagumma (5f Mr. Vic) was second for Sweden’s Jessika Sidback. Third was Still Nash (7m Prime Prospect) with Norway’s Anette Frones driving. The first two FEGAT races were won by drivers Nicole Schneider and Elana Orlando Villani.  FEGAT 2018 Women’s Amateur 12/2/18 at Florence, Italy (13 competitors) Name/Country/ Point/ Rank Nartjia Reisenbauer, Austria, 18, 9th Beatrice Chemoulin, Belgium, 24, 6 Trine Urth Pedersen, Denmark, 17, 10 Saara Shuonen, Finland, 30, 2 Sarah Kube, Germany, 17, 11 Andrea Fazekas, Hungary, 23, 7 Elena Villani Orlando, Italy, 24, 5 Hiltje Tjaisma, Netherlands, 34, 1st Anette Frones, Norway, 26, 3 Anastasia Sologubova, Russia, 11, 12 Francisca Andreu Adrover, Spain, 8, 13 Jessika Sidback, Sweden, 21. 8 Nicole Schneider, Switzerland, 24, 4   Thomas H. Hicks  

December 1, 2018 - Sweden’s oldest stake race, the Svensk Uppfodningslopning (2018), took place Saturday at Jagersro (700,000SEK to both dead heat winners, 1640 meters autostart), saw a harness racing dead heat finish. The winners were 1.13/1 By The Book (2g Googoo Gaagaa-Stellar Value-Viking Kronos) with Orjan Kihlstrom up for trainer Svante Bath and Stall Morklund HB; and 4.03/1 Belker (2m Scarlet Knight-Oki I Can-Amer I Can) driven by Torbjorn Jansson for trainer Sten Jansson and Ingels Jansson. Race time was 1.13.7kr. Third went to 13.8/1 Aetos Kronos (2m Bold Eagle-Will Of A Woman-Muscles Yankee) with Johan Untersteiner up for trainer Jerry Riordan and co-owners Team Snyder AB and Aetos Dios AB. The race was preceded by the post parade led by the 1998 race winner Revenue. The great champion still looks in superb form and he showed interest in taking on the 2018 two year olds. This is an opportunity to summarize the performances of Revenue (1996 by Reve d’Udon-Hazel Sund-Sugarcane Hanover), undefeated at two, a career winner 47 times in 110 starts for US$1,998.608, and sire of five million dollar winners including Market Share US$3,792,101, Melady’s Monet, Hot Shot Blue Chip and others. In Europe he sired Reven d’Amour, In Vain Sund, Ravello, Mafioso Face and the fine mare Tiffany Brodda. Thomas H. Hicks

December 1, 2018 - Saturday’s featured Baka Handicap (purse 1,200,000Huf, 4200 meters distance handicap) at Kincsem Park is an annual marathon harness racing classic. This year’s edition was highly competitive, with the blanket finish uncovering the 10.2/1 odds winner Wonderchild (4m Miguel Duhamel-Klarissza-Valley Guardian) reined by his trainer Goran Zolnaji. Race time was 1.24.3kr and second behind the 60 meter handicapped winner was another 60 meter penalized performer, 8.7/1 Volcano Boy (4m Tony Oaks-Oracle-Lindy Lane) with trainer Tibor Hajnal up. Third was the 40 meter penalized and 5.5/.1 odds Timiko (6m What A Man-Gesa-Rendfonok) handled by trainer Kalman Papp. Two year olds contested the Nyeretlen Ketevesek (purse 500,000Hufm 1900 meters autostart) with victory to 4.4/1 Sabath Black AT (2m Amiral Sund-Simb Lorrikeet-Pearsall Hanover) timed in 1.20.8kr and reined by trainer Tibor Hajnal. The 61.8/1 outsider Atom Maki (2m PJ Punjab-Gese-Rendtonok) was second for Gabor Zalai and third was 2.9/1 Atomarti M (2m Cigar Dan-Step By Step-Allison Hollow) with  Branislav Mukity aboard. Fast class aged performers contested the Oroghaza Varos Nagydija (purse 800,000Huf, 1960 meters autostart) with victory to 6.5/1 Ubu Kiraly (5m Vioxx SR-Helikon-Awesome Goal) timed in 1.17.8kr and reined by trainer Lajos Marton for owner Amma I. 2.3/1 Henrik Ibsen AT (6m Worship-Her Own Child) took second for Tibor Hajnal and third was 4.4/1 Sanger MS (6g Victory Scream-Samba MS-Armbro Goal) with Goran Zolnaji driving. Thomas H. Hicks

December 2, 2018 - Today’s featured harness racing Gran National du Trot Paris-Turf Finale at Vincennes, Gr.II, purse 150,000€, 2850 meters distance handicap, 18 starters, followed 13 legs in regional venues throughout the summer-fall racing season. The 7.4/1 odds and 25 meter handicapped Ble du Gers (7g Quinoa du Gers-Moorea) scored in a quick 1.12.2kr. Alexandre Abrivard teamed the winner of trainer J-M Bazire and owner J-M Rancoule. He recorded victory 17 in a 50 brace career that has now earned 634,860€. 1 0/1 odds Ceylan Dairpet (6g Ouragon de Celland-Rosy MIP), also penalized 25 meters, took second for trainer/driver Tony LeBeller. The 3/5 favorite and 25 meter handicapped Cleangame (6g Ouragon de Celland-Red Bell) landed third for trainer/driver Bazire and owner Rancoule. 57/1 Utile Lebel (10g Biesolo) was fourth for Eric Raffin and fifth was 62/1 Best du Hauty (7g Roc Meslois) for owner/trainer/driver Olivier Bizoux. The GNT Paris-Turf was the day’s Quinte+ event and a 2€ exact order ticket returned 62,737.20€. Total handle on the race exceeded 10.6€ million. Monte performers contested the Gr. II Prix Philippe du Rozier (monte, purse 120,000€, eight starters) and in a close finish the victory went to 5.1/1 Exotica de Retz (4f Prodigious-Quayaya) ridden by jocket Mme. Delphine Beaufils-Ernault for trainer Sebastien Ernault and owner Ecurie des Charmes. Race time was a quick 1.11.8kr, and the win was career victory four in 19 starts for the winner now of 318,950€. Even-money favorite Elladora de Forges (4f Gazouillis-Hamina) was second with jockey Franck Nivard in the irons for traiuner Frabck Leblanc and owner S.J. Dupont. 9/1 Etoile de Bruyere (4f Kenor de Cosse) was third for Adrien Lamy and owner/trainer Ch. Dreux. The 2.2/1 odds and well-respected Etonnant was a dq. The Gr. III LeTGrot Open des Regions 4Ans (purse 85,000€, 2850 meters, 12 starters) saw the 1.14.1kr timed ans 7/10 favorite Evrik de Guez (4g Un Mec d’Heripre-Quoumbaya de Guez) score for trainer J-M Bazire for Ecurie Vautors. The winner earned his 10th career win in 15 starts nie for 171,000€ earned. 4.9/1 Eden de Banville (4m Look de Star) was second for DSavid Thomain and 8.4/1 Elixir du Bocage (4g Un Mec d’Heripre) was third for driver Franck Nivard and trainer Erno Szirmany. The Gr. III LeTrot Open des Regions 3Ans (purse 85,000€, 2850 meters, eight starters) produced victory for 37/1odds Favorite Fligny (3f Rockefeller Center-Africa Fligny) timed in 1.14.4kr and reined by Sylvain Dieudonne for trainer Gregory Thorel and Ecurie de Pinsonniere. This winner for the fifth time in a 20 start career now for 128,670€ earned. 19/1 Free Rider (3m Love You-Sardaigne) was second with Benoit Robin up for trainer J.L. Bigeon. 5.6/1 Fakir du Lorault (3m Vaillant Cash) was third. The Gr. III LeTrot Open des Regions 5Ans (purse 85,000€, 2850 meters, 12 starters) had Diablu d’Herfraie (5g Jasmin de Flore-Slice d’Herfraie) score timed in 1.13.5kr for David Thomain. Off at 8/1 odds the winner is trained by J.P. Thomain for Ecurie du Haras d’Erable. Diablo scored for the eighth time in 22 career starts for 136,160€ earned. 3.9/1 Doux Parfum (5g Singalo-Lambada Jet) was second for Eric Raffin and third went to 2.6/1 Diamant du Lupin (5g Jasmin de Flore) reined by Adrien Lamy. The Prix Miss Hippodrome (purse 54,000€, 2850 meters) produced an impressive 1.13.5kr timed victory by 3.7/1 Cocktail Fortuna (9g Love You-Dalloah NO) reined by Gabriele Gelormini for trainer Robert Bergh and Sandra Racing Stable. The win increased the career earnings of the winner to 230,296€. 32/1 Casting de Chenu (6m Baccarat du Pont) took second money for Tony LeBeller and third was 8/1Black Jack From (7g Scipion du Goutier) with Eric Raffin up. Thomas H. Hicks

December 1, 2018 - Harness racing Groupe tests at Vincennes on Saturday included the Gr. II Prix Doynel de Saint-Quentin, purse 120,000€, 2850 meters, 11 European starters, harness racing five year olds) that saw 4.2/1 Dark Night Love (5f Royal Lover-Qucrida de Vonnas) score timed in 1.14.3kr with trainer J-M Bazire aboard. 14/1 Desir Castelets (5m Quaker Jet-Ophelie Jet) was second with Alexandre Abrivard up for trainer Luc Roelens. 6.2/1 Django Riff (5m Ready Cash-Rasta Perrine) rallied for third with Yoann Lebourgeois up for trainer Philippe Allaire 18/1 Dreamer Boy (5m Gazouillis) and 69/1 Dragon des Racques (5m Love You) completed the top five and 7/10 favorite Detroit Castelets was a dq and last year’s Grand Prix d’UET winner Drole de Jet was unplaced, this being his second appearance since September 2017. The Prix de Rencontres Internationales (purse 20,000€, 2100 meters autostart, 15 starters) drew a good collection of international drivers. Two were scratched including a horse drawn to USA’s Hunter Oakes. The winner was 3/1 Amigo Turgot (8g Prince d’Espace-Paloma de Collerie) with Mykola Volf up for trainer Franck Blandin. Second was 5.3/1 Up Ans Go (10g Fripon Rose) with Alexandre Abrivard up and third was 35/1 Viking Dream (9g Iserio) with Clint Vassallo up for trainer A.G. Maillard. Ultimo du Douet with Mme. Renate Aarle aboard and Vif d’Or du Poli with driver Niels Jongejans at the lines completed the top five. Race time was 1.13.9kr by the winner. The Prix Vourasie (Gr. III, 80,000€, 2200 meters, 10 European starters, two year olds) completed the groupe events and this one went to 8.3/1 odds Green Grass (2f Bold Eagle-Tootsie Smiling) with Gabriele Gelormini up for trainer Sebastien Guarato and owner Sebastien Dewulf. This filly now has three wins in five career appearances for 72,400€ earned. Race time was 116.4kr. The 5.7/1 Gloria Berry (2f Quaker Jet-Tequila Berry) was a close second for owner/trainer/driver Jean Michel Bazire, and 3.8/1 Grainer de Craere (2f Booster Winner-Pearl MIP) was third with Yoann Lebourgeois driving for owner/trainer Philippe Allaire. The 1.1/1 favorite and previously unbeaten in four starts, Girls Talk (2f Brillantissime-Be My Girl), was a miscue dq. Thomas H. Hicks  

Now that the 2018 harness racing season is drawing to a close, the debate over whether McWicked or Shartin N should receive Horse of the Year honors is boiling over. Both are incredible racehorses coming off of career seasons. Both are deserving. Only one will win the honor!   What is amazing is that in a year in which the 3-year-old trotting filly Atlanta (by Chapter Seven) achieved the rare feat of beating the colts in the Hambletonian, and the 2-year-old trotting filly and colt champions both went undefeated and appear to be budding superstars (both by Chapter Seven), that it is a foregone conclusion that Horse of the Year honors will go to Shartin N or McWicked.   Shartin N (by Tintin In America who is by McArdle) raced 24 times in 2018, winning an amazing 19 times against a stellar group of North America's best pacing mares. No horse or mare won more races in 2018! She won over US$1,098,000, an amazing feat for a natural 4-year-old until late October of the year! This is even more special given Shartin N only arrived in North America from New Zealand in December 2017. She raced from mid January thru late November, always at top form....a training achievement that should afford the Jim King Jr. and Joanne Looney King training duo accolades they richly deserve.    In two of the five losses,  Shartin N broke at the start, in another race she choked - each time fighting early driver restraint. So  Shartin N was only beaten twice in 2018 races in which she got away cleanly!   McWicked (by McArdle), a 7-year-old, raced 19 times in 2018, with 11 wins, for 2018 earnings of over US$1,662,000. He raced and won on all size tracks against the best free for all horses in North America. He dominated much like Shartin N dominated! He raced from mid May thru late November, a shorter season than Shartin N's but a full and tough campaign. Trainer Casie Coleman managed him exceptionally. Shartin N's best winning time was 1:48.2 at Lexington, McWicked's was 1:46.2 at Lexington.   So which horse deserves more the award that each deserves??   McWicked wins Allerage Farms Open Pace ($179,000) in 1.46,2 at Red Mile. Lazarus 2nd   Shartin N winning the Allerage Farms Pace in 1:48.2 It is so hard to say! Perhaps the slight edge goes to  Shartin N because, as a true 4-year-old mare racing against more seasoned and accomplished North American mares, she did what few have been able to do.    Perhaps also the level of competition that  McWicked faced was unusually light compared to typical North American FFA years. Lazarus N was only himself for a few starts and beat McWicked twice and the rest of the group had seen their best days or were just not truly top class....perhaps what Shartin N did was historic, while what  McWicked did was merely dominant....But FFA is more high profile than is the pacing mare division and historically voters favor the FFA Star, renowned trainers like Casie Coleman, and horses with prior records of stardom!        Close call!   Great subject for debate!   Two world champions!      WHICH WAY WOULD YOU GO??

December 1, 2018 - Gr. II monte Prix Joseph Lafosse at Vincennes, purse 120,000€, 2700 meters, eight harness racing five year old starters, saw the 4/5 odds favorite Dexter Fromentro disqualified for a miscue and that open the door for 2.2/1 second choice Dryade du Parc (5f Ludo de Castelle-Orelia d’Ecublei) to score for Eric Raffin, in the irons for breeder/owner/trainer Patrick Lecullier. Race time was 1.13.2kr for the now eight time winner in 33 career starts that had her earnings increase to 235,170€. 5.1/1 Daelia de Vandel (5f Ready Cash-Maelia de Vandel) was second for Matthieu Abrivard and trainer Cedrik Megissier. 13/1 Dubai d’Essarts (5f Kaisy Dream) was third for Francois Legadeuc ahead of 35/1 Dragon du Fresne (5m Saphir Castelets) and 85.1 Danja du Desert (5f Meaulnes du Corta). The Q+ Prix de Saint-Georges de Didonne (purse 80,000€, 2850 meters distance handicap, 18 starters) went to 5.5/1 Canular (6g Jet Fortuna-Gohelle) with Yoann Lebourgeois up for trainer Didier Brohier. Race time was 1.14.3kr off even fractions. The 11/1 Coquin de Fontaine (6g Ozio Royal) was second for Anthony Barrier and breeder/owner/trainer Bruno Courault. The 25 meter handicapped  and 14/1Chica de Joudes (6f Jag de Bellouet) was third for owner/trainer/driver Alain Laurent. Cabernet (6g Prince Gede) at 5.2/1 and 8.5/1 Cocktail Julino (6g Pagalor), handicapped 25 meters, completed the top five in exact order and those 2€ ticket holders received 9,096€ Thomas H. Hicks

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