Day At The Track
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The long 1,950-metre harness racing track at Caen, Normandy, was the theatre for the very first qualifying session for the 2-yo. crop, on Friday 20th May. 57 colts and fillies qualified out of 78 presented (73%) on the 2,000-metre course which they had to trot in 1'21''5 k/r minimum. The fastest of the session was an incredible Esko de Rebomard (Extreme Aunou) who trotted 1'16''5 k/r-- an all-time record at this age and at this time of the year! Sebastien Guarato qualified two impressive colts: Eturn Money (1'16''9), a nephew of Return Money and of the good Cristal Money; and Eridan (1'17''1) by Ready Cash and a mare by Coktail Jet. Next session will be on Friday, May 27, at Caen. Mark Kentell

The Group One International Oslo Grand Prix was won by the American interest, Arch Madness, with Bjorn Goop in the bike. The French gelding Rapide Lebel only managed to finish fifth, putting a stop to his long series of wins in France.

As the winter season at Paris-Vincennes just closes, we analyse the eleven Group 1's raced between November and early March. Last Saturday (March 5), Paris' racecourse closed its doors on the winter season which started at the beginning of November.

Saturday's (March 5) harness racing meeting at Paris-Vincennes was the last of the winter meeting. But Paris' racecourse closed in style, as there were two Group Two events and a Group One on the card, among some other interesting races.

With the precision of a sharpshooter, Severino hit the second target, which his harness racing trainer Christian Bigeon had jotted in his winter diary: the Prix Ovide Moulinet. A success that fulfilled his contract as he only just turned five. After a hectic start earlier in the season, the offspring of Gobernador and Katia de Tillard adjusted the rudder in December by winning the Criterium Continental, hence qualifying for the Prix d'Amerique Marionnaud in which he brilliantly finished sixth.

French harness racing sire Buvetier d'Aunou died last week (February 17). Tired, he was euthanised at 22. He hadn't started his breeding season yet. Bred and trained by Jean-Pierre Dubois (photo), Buvetier d'Aunou was not only a good sire, but also a great competitor on track.

Second in the Prix d'Amerique behind Ready Cash, then second again in the 'revenge' Prix de France, still behind Ready Cash, it was about time the Swede took home a Group One harness racing event from Paris. And indeed Maharajah was successful, winning the 4,125-metre marathon event which closes the famous winter trilogy at Paris-Vincennes.

The duellists of the latest Prix d'Amerique, Ready Cash and Maharajah, were once again on track for harness racing revenge. But the competition wasn't reduced to a duel and those who were placed in the Prix d'Amerique all wanted to have their share of the cake.

Vincennes celebrated the 79th edition of the Prix de Cornulier (Gr.1 - 700,000 euro - 2,700 m), a race considered as the world championship of mounted trotting. Olga du Biwetz won this tear's event, way in front of the favourites.

France's best 3-year-olds gathered in the 'Criterium des 3 Ans', the greatest event for French Trotters of that generation. The Criterium des 3 Ans (Gr. 1 - 240,000 euro - 2,700m) is a special race and several of its winners have marked the history of French harness-racing afterwards.

Fabrice Souloy's 7-year-old harness racing mare, Private Love, won Saturday's (December 11) second prep' race for the Prix d'Amerique, finishing in front of the favourite, Qwerty (Pierre Levesque).

France's Pari Mutuel Urbain (PMU) announced a few months ago their wish to deploy the company's activities in foreign countries. The French model, which consists of financing the harness racing industry, should work in other countries, they say. It was today, December 6, that a first partnership with Belgium was signed.

Paris-Vincennes racecourse reopened for its annual harness racing winter season which started last Wednesday to finish at the beginning of March next year.

By winning the Criterium des 5 ans (Group 1, 3,000 m, 240,000 euro), Roc Meslois trained and steered to victory by Pierre Belloche, is now the leader of his harness racing generation in France.

The Sweden Cup final went to Italy, as Pietro Gubellini steered in self-trained Irving Rivarco to victory in the elim' and in the final and added over 62,000 euro to his harness racing account. Just as in the qualifying heat, Irving Rivarco was the fastest to leave the mobile gate and took the responsibility of the lead.

The 4-year-old French Trotter, Speedy Blue, trained by Jean-Philippe Mary, won Saturday's Gr.1 'Criterium des 4 Ans' (240,000 euro) at Paris-Vincennes, the 'derby' for four-year-olds. The favourite, Severino, crossed the wire with two outsiders in front of him, rated at 55-1 and 105-1 respectively.

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