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Europe’s best four year-olds squared off in today’s Gr. I Criterium Continental with a €240,000 purse, 2100 meters autostart, 18 starters with one scratch at Paris-Vincennes in the UET Masters Series) vying for its winners invitation to the Prix d’Amerique. The slick gaited, well-mannered Tumble Dust (4m Crazed-Affinity-Victory Dream) with Bjorn Goop up for trainer Tomas Malmqvist and owner Stall Tumble Boys, rallied to score by a nose at 13.8/1 odds in 1.10.7kr. Tumble Dust scored from post nine, outside first tier, and battled to the front in fast tempo before allowing a game 16/1 Amiral Sacha (4m Ganymede-Nostalgia Sacha) to gain the front for Gabrielle Gelormini with Malmqvist’s stablemate 33/1 Backfire (4f Offshore Dream-Fashion Brodde) behind Tumble Dust. Positions remained unchanged until even-money choice Aladin d’Ecajeul rolled near the leaders on the outside. Off the final bend Tumble Dust found room to the outside and Backfire found space on the pegs as the favorite faltered and Amiral Sacha battled on with great courage. The top three were noses apart on the line. Tumble Dust secured his tenth career win now for earnings of €510,169. Aladin d’Ecajeul ended fourth, Akim du Cap Vert fifth and J-P Dubois’ Tast of Bourbon was seventh. Fractions were 1.05.2kr at 1500; 1.08.5kr at 1000; 1.10.9kr at 500, 1.10.7kr at the finish. On post-race interview reinsman Bjorn Goop was quoted as saying Tumble Dust was good today, got over the track well and still had gas left. Goop recorded his seventh win in France this year with the Criterium Continental triumph. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink.com

Bird Parker (3m Ready Cash-Belisha-Fakir du Vivier)) scored a decisive six length victory in today’s Gr. I Prix de Vincennes (€240,000, 2700 meters monte, 13 starters) at Paris-Vincennes. This winner was off at 6.3/1 odds while favored Booster Winner finished a fading eighth at 1.3/1. Yohan Lebourgeois rode Bird Parker as the pair drew clear from the field starting at head-stretch. Philippe Allaire trains the winner for owner Elisabeth Allaire. Brutus de Bailly (3m Niky-Ninon de Bailly) was second for Mathieu Mottier at 13/1 with Best of Jets (3m Magnificent Rodney-Plume Jets) and Bilibili (3m Niky-Quetty du Digeon) next across the line. The winner was timed in 1.13.7 in modest fractions (1.12.7kr at 1500; 1.12.8kr at 1000; 1.13.3kr at 500; 1.13.7kr at finish). Bird Parker recorded his fifth career win for €525,430 earned. Thomas H. Hicks

Roxane Griff (9f Tenor de Baune-Julia Mesloise-Sancho Panca) rallied stoutly from fourth around the final bend to decisively score in today’s Gr. II UET Masters Series Monte Prix Jules Lemonnier (€120,000 purse, 2175 meters, 8 starters) in a sharp 1.11.8kr. Eric Raffin rated the gallant mare perfectly for trainer Sebastien Guarato and owner/breeder Ecurie Griff. Roxane Griff won for the 20th time in her career, now for earnings of €2,567,218, today at 3/5 odds. In her last seven outings she has a 1-3-2 slate with three mounted starts and four to sulky. Earlier this year she won the prestigious Prix de Cournulier (monte), the world’s richest monte race, a week before the the Prix d’Amerique . She then finished a solid fourth in that sulky classic. Germany’s Armando Kievitshof raced well today and held second for Philippe Masschaele and trainer Carine de Soete, in what was only his second monte start since April, at 25/1 odds. Torre Crepin (7g Capriccio-Ianaka) was third at 9/1. Well regarded veteran Singalo contested the event near the leading pack and eventually went offstride in late stretch. Today’s Gr. II Prix Une de Mai (€120,000, 2175 meters, 12 starters, two year-old females) went to front-striding Classica du Ruel (2f Scipion du Goutier-Romance du Ruel-Jam Pridem) with trainer Franck Anne up for breeder/owner Annick Bazin. The victory was the second of her brief career now for €127,480 earned. She was timed in a sharp 1.13.7kr, at 4.3/1 odds, in defeating Couleur Citron (2f Coktail Jet-L’aunou du Fier) and teamster Yohan Lebourgeois for Philippe Allaire who trains for Ecurie J-P Barjon. Conception (2f Ready Cash-Soeur Winner) was third for Joseph Verbeeck, trainer Allaire and owner Ecurie Val de Moulin. The Prix de Strasbourg (€88,000 purse, 2850 meters, 12 starters) also graced the card with that win to 4/5 favorite Trophee de Jaba (7g Kesaco Phedo-Otika Vita-Gal d’Hautmoniere) trained and reined by J-M Bazire. He was up in the final stride to score in 1.14.2kr to record career victory 17 for €447,900 earned. He posted his third straight win. The de Chene (7g Blue Eyes America-Heparine) was second for J.L.Cl. Dersoir, also trainer, with third to Tornado de l’Ocean (7g Look de Star-Talvina) with Pierre Levesque teaming for trained Mike Lenders and owner Ecurie J-P Barjon. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink.com

Friday Group action at Paris-Vincennes began what will be a super-charged racing weekend, illustrative of the winter-meet class of racing. The Gr. II Prix Emmanuel Margouty (€120,000, 2175 meters, 11 two year-old colt starters) went to the Thierry Duvaldestin trained and reined Cristal Money (2m Coktail Jet-Making Money-Himo Josselyn) in 1.14kr. The Richard Cohen owned colt rallied in mid-stretch and as 4.5/1 second choice held off Celebrissime (2m Password-Invre de Victorire) and Yohan Lebourgeois. That one was off as 1.6.1 favorite for trainer Philippe Allaire and owner Frederic Sauque. Franck Leblanc’s Coquin Bene (2m Rancho Gede-Noble Nanette) closed well for third with J-M Bazire aboard at 11/1. Winning Cristal Money has four victories in seven starts for €108.650 in this his initial campaign, Vittel de Brevol (5m Jag de Bellouet-Lady de Brevol-Capriccio) captured the Gr. III Prix Sans Dire Qui (€105,000, monte, 2700 meters) with David Thomain in the irons for trainer Sebastien Ernault. This 9/10 favorite easily dispatched Veloce du Banney (5g Quaro-Jiva du Banney) with Yohan Lebourgeois up for trainer/owner Franck Leblanc at 10/1. Italian registered invader Palomar LB (5m Varenne-Gilly LB) was third for Elisabeth Allaire and trainer Harri Rantanen at 9/1. The winner scored in 1.13.1kr for his 14th lifetime win now for €371,100 earned. In ten 2014 starts the winner has six victories. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink.com

Vabellino picked up another big race for trainer of the moment Sebastien Guarato as the 45 million euro Winter Meeting hits full swing with racing every day this month at Vincennes, Paris until Christmas Eve. Driven by Eric Raffin, Vabellino defeated a high class European field in the 115,000 euro Prix de Chateaudun recording a fast 1’13”1 (1.57.3MR) for the 2850m journey. Ugo de Nieul from Romain Derieux’s barn was second ahead of Elles W Phedo who was driven by Johanna Lindqvist for French-based Swede Thomas Claesson. But the focus of French racing is on a stellar weekend coming up, where the 4YOs and 2YO seasons reach their climax, as well as one of the premier montes, the group one Prix de Vincennes. On Friday there is the running of the top 2YO race for colts, the Prix Emmanuel Magouty in which Celebrissime will attempt to emulate his half brother Brillantissime, who won the race last year. The Philippe Allaire trained colt will face stiff opposition from another colt by boom sire Password in Caid Griff who won the other Group III race for 2YO in the lead ups. Consul Madrik, Cristal Money, Canari Match are the other coltss to have caught the eye thus far. On Saturday it is the turn of the fillies in the Prix Une de Mai will see Campo Rossa favoured to beat Classica du Ruel, Cuise la Motte, Capucine de Nacre and unbeaten filly Cirantana who makes her first start at group level. Meanwhile in Italy Tast of Bourbon warmed up for Sunday’s group one Critierium Continental with a win in the Group II Gran Premio Royal Mares in Naples Italy this week. She blasted from the gate to take control of the race and was simply too strong for the rest of the field, pouring on the power to have a big lead by the turn, and though last year’s winner Orsia (Angus Hall) made up some ground in the straight, the winner won easing up. Rodeo Drive Ok (Conway Hall) was third ahead of another former winner of the race Linda di Casei (Uronometro). “The race came off well” said the driver Davide Di Stefano. “ The credit goes to a great trainer, Jean Baudron, who has prepared bringing it here in Naples in top form “. Tast du Bourbon is a French-owned daughter of Donato Hanover owned and bred by Jean Pierre Dubois and registered in Denmark since she is ineligible for the rich French domestic programme. Her next assignment if the Criterium Continental, a race which she is seemingly bred for with her dam Qualita Bourbon a former winner of the Criterium Continental, as was her sire Love You. Her grand dam Etta Extra also left Mara Bourbon who was second in the race, and the Criterium des Jeunes winner Sam Bourbon, who is the sire of exciting Australian 3YO Twice As Much, last season’s NSW Breeders Challenge Trotters Final winner. Courtesy Harness Racing New Zealand  

Final lineup and post positions are set for Sunday’s prestigious Criterium Continental for €240,000 and contested over 2100 meters autostart. The French leading four year-olds drew very well. Tomas Malmqvist’s entry of Backfire and Tumble Dust drew posts eight-nine and J-P Dubois’ Tast of Bourbon (by Donato Hanover-Qualita Bourbon) will start from the inside of the second tier. The winner of the event earns an invitation to the Prix d’Amerique. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink.com  

Twenty-six European four year-old trotters have been engaged in Sunday’s €240,000 Criterium Continential at Paris-Vincennes with the winner earning a Prix d’Amerique invitation. The Gr. I UET Masters Series test will be contested over 2100 meters autostart. Of those engaged, 17 are from countries other than France (nine from Italy, two each Denmark, Norway and Sweden, and one each from Finland and Germany). The top contenders based on career earnings in euros include: Akim du Cap Vert, €710,880, Franck Anne trainer/driver Aladin d’Ecajeul, €694,940, Sebastien Guarato trainer, Eric Raffin driver Axelle Dark, €582,712, Philippe Allaire trainer, Joseph Verbeeck driver Backfire (SWE), €444,680, Tomas Malmqvist trainer, driver tba Atlessima, €442,740, Philippe Moulin trainer, driver tba Tumble Dust (DEN), €402.173), Tomas Malmqvist trainer, driver tba Also in the lineup is the emerging, powerful Athos des Elfes, a winner of €389,030, shown below training this week at Grobois. The top trotting day also features the Gr. I monte Prix de Vincennes for three year-olds over 2700 meters. Booster Winner, Bird Parker and Brutus de Bailly are engaged, each with career earnings of over €300,000. The card also includes the Gr. II monte €120,000 Prix Emile Riotteau over 2700 meters. Sebastian Guarato trainee Astor du Quenne heads this group. On Saturday Paris-Vincennes hosts the Gr. II €120,000 Prix Une de Mai for two year-old fillies over 2175 meters. Campo Rosso and Classica du Ruel lead this group. The aged monte campaigners will battle in the Prix Jules Lemonnier for €120,000. Nine will contest this Gr. II International UET Masters Series event over 2175 meters. Roxane Griff and Singalo are the top earners in this field. The historical Prix d’Amerique leaders continue to shrink. Louis Baudron announced that Village Mystic has been withdrawn from competition this winter due to injury recurrence. His status on the racetrack will be determined after the 2015 breeding season. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink.com

In case you have not already signed up for Harnesslink’s great newsletter called Insider Access, then here is your chance.  Just click here and within seconds you will be on track for the latest news in harness racing that you will not see or read about anywhere else, even on our own website. Each issue includes an in-depth Stallion review not available anywhere else. All previous reviews can now be viewed at www.stallionsphere.com This week’s Insider Access newsletter contains the following feature stories: Drop your foot and pay the fine - Last week Harnesslink featured its most controversial article ever. Thousands of views and hundreds of comments, both pro and con, on the David Miller interview about dropping his foot in the Progress Pace at Dover Downs. Insider Access archive available - Following requests from our readers in relation to previous editions of Insider Access, we are providing a link for those looking to catch up on some news they missed. Simply click here and delve through the archives as Insider Access and Harnesslink continue to lead the way in providing the latest news from around the world. AU: You're only as good as your last win - We have all heard the adage "you are only as good as your last win." Well, it would appear at least one well-known trainer has come to realise this to be true. NZ: 1000 wins and hardly a murmur - One thing that we struggle with in the harness racing game in New Zealand is how we treat our superstars of the sport. In any other sport they shower there stars with awards and public recognition when they achieve something special. Stallion Review – YANKEE CRUISER – Continuing on with our stallion review series today we have produced an in depth review for the excellent racehorse and stallion Yankee Cruiser 1:49.3s ($1,457,346). Don’t miss out on the next edition of Insider Access. The newsletter currently comes out every other Tuesday morning (North America), Tuesday afternoon (Europe) and Wednesday morning (Australasia).

In case you have not already signed up for Harnesslink’s great newsletter called Insider Access, then here is your chance.  Just click here and within seconds you will be on track for the latest news in harness racing that you will not see or read about anywhere else, even on our own website. Each issue includes an in-depth Stallion review not available anywhere else. All previous reviews can now be viewed at www.stallionsphere.com This week’s Insider Access newsletter contains the following feature stories: Stallion Review – YANKEE CRUISER – Continuing on with our stallion review series today we have produced an in depth review for the excellent racehorse and stallion Yankee Cruiser 1:49.3s ($1,457,346). AU: You're only as good as your last win - We have all heard the adage "you are only as good as your last win." Well, it would appear at least one well-known trainer has come to realise this to be true. NZ: 1000 wins and hardly a murmur - One thing that we struggle with in the harness racing game in New Zealand is how we treat our superstars of the sport. In any other sport they shower there stars with awards and public recognition when they achieve something special. Drop your foot and pay the fine - Last week Harnesslink featured its most controversial article ever. Thousands of views and hundreds of comments, both pro and con, on the David Miller interview about dropping his foot in the Progress Pace at Dover Downs. Insider Access archive available - Following requests from our readers in relation to previous editions of Insider Access, we are providing a link for those looking to catch up on some news they missed. Simply click here and delve through the archives as Insider Access and Harnesslink continue to lead the way in providing the latest news from around the world. Don’t miss out on the next edition of Insider Access. The newsletter currently comes out every other Tuesday morning (North America), Tuesday afternoon (Europe) and Wednesday morning (Australasia).

Briac Dark (3m Prince Gede-Queen des Charmes) took the Gr. III Prix Jules Lepentier (€76,000, 2700 meters, 14 starters) in 1.16.5kr for trainer/driver Franck Anne and owner Guy Barou on a rainy Saturday afternoon at Paris-Vincennes. The 1.2/1 odds favorite easily handled Bamaka des Angles (3g NI Ho Ped d’Ombree-Ixia des Angles) reined by Pierre Vercruysse and trained by J-P Piton. Baccio Josselyn (3m Scipion du Goutier-Pika Josselyn) rallied for third for trainer/driver J-M Bazire. The Gr. III Prix Oscar Collard (€95,000 purse, 2100 meters, 17 starters) went to Moving On (5f Quite Easy-Kings Blondie) with Franck Nivard aboard. The Fabrice Souloy trainee is owned by L.C. Equine AB for this 1.13.4kr victory. The 3/2 favorite easily dispatched Very Well Jet (5m Love You-Encombevineuse) with Mathieu Mottier up with the J-M Bazire teamed Vinci de l’Abbaye (5m Otello Pierji-Kybovmette) ending third. The Quinte+ Prix de la Ville de Cabourg (€80,000 purse, 2100 meters autostart, 18 starters) went to red-hot Ustinof du Vivier (6g Look de Star-Melba du Vivier) and Eric Raffin at 1.6/1 odds. The Y-A Briand trainee is owned by Jean –Yves Lecuyer and scored in 1.13.4kr for his 21st win in 48 starts. Two J-P Barjon owned campaigners finished two-three. Tina du Citrus (7f Niky-Onna Lisa) placed at 50.8/1 for Franck Ouvrie and trainer Bjorn Goop with third to Tornado de l’Ocean (7g Look de Star-Talvina) for Pierre Levesque and trainer Mike Lenders. The wet and wild card concluded with longshot winners ranging from 38/1 to 90/1. Paris-Vincennes action resumes Sunday afternoon. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink

Noras Bean (9m Super Arnie-Easy Bean-Songcan) grabbed an early lead for reinsman Stefan Soderqvist in the V-75 Gold contest over 1640 meters autostart on Saturday at Mantorp, Sweden. After five-hunded meters favorite Digital Ink (5g Super Photo Kosmos-Laverde des Pres-Filou des Boscall), with Orjan Kihlstrom up for trainer Stefan Melander, got alongside the leader. Those positions were remained to last turn. Digital Ink lost ground at the beginning of the home stretch and it looked like Noras Bean could prevail. But with only hundred meters to go the Stall TZ owned Digital Ink made a comeback and managed to secure the narrow win in 1.12kr. Miss Sue V. (6f Credit Winner-Sunday Yankee-Muscles Yankee) grabbed the third position for driver Bjorn Goop, trainer Daniel Reden and owner Stall Zet. The winner earned 150,000SEK for the victory, his 18th in 42 outings for career earnings of 4,082,800SEK. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink.com

Favorite Louvre (9f Piccardo-Defile-Ganymede) and reinsman Federico Esposito took Sunday’s €66,000 Gran Premio Duomo at Firenze, Italy by a length. The winner covered the 1600 meter autostart course in 1.13.4kr to defeat No Man’s Land (7f Coktail Jet-AJ’s Babydoll’Donerail) with Pietro Gubellini up, third place Per Amore Gual with Marco Stefani and Orsia (6f Angus Hall-Tigre OM-Zebu) handled by Alessando Gocciadoro. Saturday at Kincsem Park the marathon Baka Handicap (4200 meters or 2 5/8 miles, eight starters, 1.1HUf million purse) was raced over a sloppy surface and in heavy rain. Miki (8m Baltic Bet-Viki-Witsends Speedy) overcame a 40 meter handicap to score in 1.24.6kr with a late stretch rally with amateur teamster Tamas Kelemen up. Csaba Lakatos trains the winner that record his fourth 2014 win in 13 starts. Noble Rose (7g Peki van Kemp-Edina Rose) was second, covering 4240 meters. Nocsabasz (7m Tony Oaks-Zala szepe) was third for Veljko Mazsity, this one handicapped 100 meters. The Kincsem Park undercard featured Oroshaza Varos DIJA went to Slovakia’s Jasa GL (5f Lets Go-Jasna) with Jozef Sagaj driving. The winner covered 1960 meters in 1.21kr to defeat Ferrari In Red (7f Likable River-Oranka) with Emese Vezer driving as this pair traveled an extra 20 meters. Serbia’s Amazon Banker (6f Wall Street Banker-Annie) was third. Jasa GL also won the featured Betolakoda DIJ on November 29 over 2500 meters autostart. Trainer Dusan Zorko drove that day winning in 1.19.5kr. Other interesting winners on December 6th included Rachel CR (4f Indro Park-Briggie Hanover), Harlynda (5f Abano As-Sparkling) and Black Coffee (5m Running Sea-Active Pia). by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink.com

Bold Eagle (3m Ready Cash-Reethi Rah Jet-Love You) remained undefeated in 2014 as he recorded his ninth 2014 victory in the Gr. I €240,000 Gran Criterium for three year-olds at Paris-Vincennes. Bold Eagle made a decisive move for Franck Nivard  to the lead around the last bend, opened a five length advantage and held off late rallies by Brillantissime (3m Ready Cash-Ivre de Victoire-Buvetier d’Aunou) and Pierre Vercruysse with third to the consistent Billie de Montfort (3f Jasmin de Flore-Quiismy de Montfort-And Arifant) with Eric Raffin up for trainer Guarato. Sebastien Guarato trains the winner for Ecurie Pierre Pilarski. Philippe Allaire trains Brillantissime for owner Frederic Sauque. Bold Eagle was off as the 1/2 favorite with Brillantissime and Billie de Montfort were 19/1 and 10/1 respectively. Bold Eagle scored in 1.13.6kr over the 2700 meters to defeat 13 rivals in an evenly rated contest (1.13.1kr at 1500; 1.13.7kr at 100; 1.14kr at 500; 1.13.6kr finish) and now sports 11 wins and one placing in 13 career starts for earnings of €360,800 lifetime. The slick-gaited colt is not very big but has manners and quick speed. He’ll improve with maturity as will the next pair at the finish today in what is a good class of three year-olds Interestingly, the pedigrees of the Bold Eagle and Brillantissime have commonality. Bold Eagle’s second dam Hippodomia is by Workaholic from April Pearl by Passionnant while Brillantissime’s dam Ivre de Victoire is by Buvetier d’Aunou from the same April Pearl. April Pearl’s daughters have produced ten winners of over US$100,000 including Risque Tout (US$1,318,331) plus the promising 2014 two year-old Celebrissime. Today’s Gr. II Prix O. Douesnel for four year-olds drew nine players going for €120,000 over 2700 meters. 1.4/1 favorite Aladin d’Ecajeul (4m Quaker Jet-Nancy d’Ecajeul-Halimede) took the prize for jubilant teamster Eric Raffin, trainer Sebastien Guarato and owner Ph. DeWulf. The winner scored in 1.14.8kr and now has 11 wins and eight placings in 22 career starts, now for earnings of €694,940. Amiral Sacha (4m Ganymede-Nostalgique Sacha) was second for David Thomain with pacesetter and second wagering choice Athos des Elfes (4m Ganymede-Lazio du Bourg) third for veteran trainer/driver Joel Van Eeckhaute. The pick 5 Prix Crecy La Chapelle (€75,000 purse, 16 starters, 2850 meters) went to 11/1 odds Tripolia (7f Sancho Panca-Garivana) and J-Ph Mary, also trainer/owner. The winner scored in 1.15.1kr after slow early fractions in the race (1.17.5kr at 1500; 1.16.9kr at 1000; 1.16.2kr at 500; 1.15.1kr finish). Un Charme Fou (6m Love You-Ma Crown) was second for Franck Nivard, also 11/1, with Sergent du Rib (8g Baccarat du Pont-Hermine du Rib) third for trainer/driver J.L.Cl. Dersoir. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink.com

Julien Dubois teamed Texas Charm (7m Cygnus d’Odyssee-Kamela Charm) to victory in today’s €120,000 Gr. II International UET Master Series Prix du Bourbonnais at Paris-Vincennes.With the triumph, Texas Charm automatically earns a spot in the prestigious Prix d'Amerique in late January. Dubois left alertly to gain the front from then pocketed Solvato (5m Donato Hanover-Solveig) and teamster Orjan Kihlstrom. Texas Charm led throughout setting slow fractions and won without urging from Dubois by three-quarters of a length timed in 1.14.9kr. Uhlan du Val (6m Islero de Bellouet-Indiana Beautiful) rallied late for second driven by Cedric Megissier ahead of Solvato. Kadett CD (7m Scarlet Knight-Kiss Of Life) ended fourth with fifth to Viking de Val (5m Baccarat de Pont-La Forgude Val). Next across the line were Mosaique Face, Severino, Ready Cash and Soleil du Fosse. Ready Cash overcame his 25 meter handicap quickly and raced in the second tier with cover until top of stretch when he quickened before flattening out in the late going, albeit without urging and timed in 1.14.5kr Texas Charm was off as 2.3/1 favorite and he secured career win 15 now for earnings of €1,070,530) for owner Ecurie Victoria Dreams and trainer Philippe Moulin. The rated fractions were 1.17.2kr at 1500; 1.16.4kr at 1000, 1.16kr at 500 before 1.14.9kr finish. Ucapata (6f Otello Pierji-Love Me Cherie) easily scored in tonight’s €54,000 Prix Le Parisien, the Quinte+ featured event on the Vincennes card. F-P Bossuet teamed the winner to the 1.13.2kr victory over 2850 meters for European eligibles (14 in the field). The winner was off at 4.4/1 odds in the defeat of Tirade (7f Memphis du Rib-Galilee du Val) at 25.5/1 for Romain Derieux and 17/1 Photo Princess (9f Super Photo Kosmos-Milady Hornline) with trainer M. Lonborg up. The Q+ jackpot was €4.55 million and was not hit albeit the exact order payoff exceeded €229,000 for a €2 wager. Graded Action at Paris-Vincennes and Bergsaker Today’s Prix de Bourbonnais undercard at Paris-Vincennes was a great one with three graded events and other upper class races. Valse de Reve (6f Mister President-Nouba Houba) started the day with victory in the Prix de Seichen Sur Le Loir for €90,000 that attracted 11 monte contestants going 2175 meters. The winner, reined by Camille Levesque, scored in 1.11.7kr as 1.1/1 favorite over Victoire Smiing (5f Memphis du Rib-Kediva) for Damien Bonne and Vic du Boisnant (5m Gazouillis-Ode du Boisnant) with David Thomain aboard. The Prix d’Hautefort for a €60,000 purse showcased 18 European trotters in this 2100 meter autostart contest. Timed in 1.12kr the victory went to Joker Stursk (7g Rotation-Ariel Stursk) teamed by Orjan Kihlstrom for trainer Torbjorn Jansson. Off at 8/1 the winner scored by a length over Ti Amo de Carly (7g In Love With You-Native de Carly) handled by Arnaud Desmottes with third to Tafaiko Sax (7g Nobilis Jiel-Nafaiku) with Franck Ouvrie driving. The Gr. II Prix Ariste Hemard (€120,000 purse, 2700 meters, 11 starters) went to the Franck Leblanc trained and owned Anna Mix (4f Ludo de Castelle-Ires) driven by Franck Nivard at 5.7/1 odds. The battle for second went to fast closing Altese du Mirel (4f Ready Cash-Ina de Mirel) at 4/1 for trainer/driver Pierre Vercruysse over Africaine (4f Oiseau de Feux-Italienne) with owner/trainer/driver Jean-Etienne Dubois up. The Gr. III Prix Narquois (€95,000 purse, 2700 meters, 10 starters) went to 3.6/1 odds Valko Jenilat (5m Kepler-Perle du Roc) for Glenny Delaume and trainer Sebastien Guarato. The dominant pacesetter scored in 1.15.2kr in a well-rated effort. 19/1 outsider Votka Bleue (5f Jasmin de Flore-Joyeuse) was second for Franck Nivard ahead of 9/10 favorite Vinci de l’Arbaye (5m Otello Pierji-Kyboumette Bloue) with trainer/driver J-M Bazire at the lines. Booster Winner (3m Love You-Quille Viretaute), the 1/2 favorite in the wagering, took the Gr. II Prix Raoul Ballaire (€120,000 purse, 2175 meters, nine starters, monte for three year-olds). Eric Raffin teamed the winner for trainer Sebastien Guarato as he opened a decisive lead and then tired late holding off Beauty Turgot (3f Hand du Vivier-Quouragana) with Franck Nivard in the irons for trainer Fabrice Souloy. Bilibili (3m Niky-Quetty du Donjon) was third for Alexandre Abrivard, trainer L-Cl Abrivard and owner J-P Barjon. Timed in 1.13.5kr the race yielded fast early fractions – 1.07.1kr at 1500; 1.09.7kr at 1000; 1.12.4kr at 500 from which the leader staggered home to victory. V75 Gold at Bergsaker Elsewhere today in Europe, at Bergsaker SWE, the V75 Gold (150,000SEK to the winner, 2140 meters autostart), went to Traveling Man (9m Supergill-Kimberly Lobell-Speedy Somolli) with Kenneth Haugstad up for trainer Daniel Reden. The veteran scored his 25 career victory in 84 starts, now for earnings of 2,820,250SEK. The 1.12.5kr winner defeated stablemate Miss Sue V (6f Credit Winner-Sunday Yankee-Muscles Yankee) with Bjorn Goop up. Ariel Boko (7f Lemon Dra-Exciting Kronos-Viking Kronos) was third for Ulf Ohlsson ahead of former Elitloppet winner Nahar and driver Robert Bergh. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink.com

Trainer Stefan Hultman and manager Travkompaniet confirmed that Maharajah will not defend his 2014 Prix d’Amerique title. The veteran nine year-old son of Viking Kronos-Chili Khan-Giant Chill faced a brief interruption in training recently and will not have time and sufficient racing tests to be a peak form for the world’s top trotting event in late January. No decision has been made on the future racing career of Maharajah. Maharajah won almost 6.9SEK million in his four starts in the Prix d’Amerique from 2011-2014. His long-time reinsman Orjan Kihlstrom has signed on the team of the US import Solvato in Saturday’s Prix du Bourbonnais at Vincennes. Trainer Veijo Heiskanen appears to have Solvato in good form as evidenced by a rallying win a week ago. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink.com

Veteran Beckman (7g Turbo Sund-Nins Palema-Alf Palema) won today’s featured €95,000 Prix de Blois for european trotters at 7.8/1 odds. The Swedish registered campaigner was driven by Franck Nivard for trainer Fabrice Souloy and owner J-P Izzo as he recorded victory 27, good for career earnings in excess of €550,000. Beckman rallied late to score in 1.12kr over the 2100 meter autostart distance against 13 rivals. The race was the Quinte+ race of the day with a €4.5 million jackpot. Beckman is a winter meet specialist and last winter was victorious at Vincennes on February 2, January 5, December 25 and 14, November 23 and October 25. Seduisant Fouteau (8m Gazoullis-Elisalde) was second for Charles Dreoux with Ricimer (9m Hermes du Buisson-Gyka de la Chaise) home third for Herve Sionneau. The Q+ returned over €251,000 for a €2 play to those selecting the top five finishers in exact order.  Rapports (pour 2€) Tirelire 4.500.000 € - Numéro plus : 2764   Ordre :       251.328,00€   Désordre :       2.094,40€   Bonus 4 :       140,40€   Bonus 4sur5 :       52,50€   Bonus 3 :       35,00€   by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink.com

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