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Cagnes sur Mer this day held their featured Prix Roland Jaffrelot (purse 53,000€, 2925 meters, 12 starters) with the 1.12.9kr timed victory to 2.9/1 favorite Cicero Noa (7g Mandarino Blue-Ma Belle Reine). Pierre Vercruysse was the winning pilot for breeder/owner/trainer Jan Vanhoucke and Cicero Noa won for the eighth time in 64 career starts now for 435,280€ earned. The 8.6/1 Black d’Arjeanc (8g Prince d’Espace) was second for Nicolas Ensch and 15/1 Clif du Pommereux (7m Love You) took third with Stephane Cingland at the lines for trainer Sylvain Roger and owner Noel Lolic. The 78/1 Balthazar Maza and 8.7/1 Bad Boy du Dollar took the fourth and fifth checks. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink  

July 24, 2019 - Harness racing trainer/driver Pierre Vercruysse took three victories at Enghien this day including the Quinte+ race of the day and the Gr. III Prix de la Chaussee d’Antin. The Q+ Prix de Picpus (purse 38,000€, 2875 meters, 14 starters) began the streak with victory to 2.9/1 Funky Jet (4m Sam Bourbon-Pine Apple Jet) clocked in 1.14.8kr with trainer Vercruysse at the lines for Ecurie Augustin-Normand. This Jean Etienne Dubois bred trotter now has three wins in three 2019 starts and he is six for seven for the career. His life earnings are now 76,050€. 62/1 Futur du Chene (4g Milord du Chene) was second ahead of 22/1 Franklin Park (4g Prince Gede). 32/1 Fynio du Pommereux (4g Timoko) and 32/1 Falco Somolli (4m Tropic Jet) completed the top five and set up a Q+ payoff of 78,501.80€ to six winning 2€ tickets. The Q+ pool was 2,669,498€ and the handle on the race from all wagers exceeded 5,677,000€. Funky Jet Vercruysse was back shortly for a victory with 3.3/1 Crazy Charm (7g Prodigious-Know How) timed in 1.13.5kr in the Prix du Medoc (purse 58,000€, 2875 meters, 11 starters). This one is also owned by Ecurie Augustin-Normand and was bred by Jean Philippe Dubois. He now has 14 career wins in 40 starts for 204,970€ earned. 21/1 Gross Weight (8g Scarlet Knight-Elma Jet) took second for Clement Duvaldestin and third went to 3.4/1 All Feeling (9m Otello Pierji) for pilot Eric Raffin. Crazy Charm The day’s feature race was the Gr. III Prix de la Chaussee d’Antin (purse 80,000€, 2875 meters, eight starters) and the 7/10 favorite Drole de Jet (6m Coktail Jet-Likely Jet) scored timed in 1.12.9kr for trainer/driver Vercruysse. It was the winner’s second straight victory and he is now a nine-time winner in 25 starts good for 427,775€. Ecurie des As owns Drole de Jet that was bred by Jean Etienne Dubois. 2/1 Etonnant (5m Timoko-Migraine) was second with Bjorn Goop teaming for owner/trainer Richard Westerink. 10/1 Dascalia (6f Norginio) took third with Eric Raffin aboard for trainer Alphonse Vanderghen. Drole de Jet   Thomas H. Hicks     Thomas H. Hicks  

The back half of the today’s Paris-Vincennes card was terrific and included the eQ+ race of the day.  The eQuinte+ Prix d’Arras (purse 48,000€, 2700 meters, 16 European starters) this day went to 1.13kr timed Class Action with Ch. Dreux aboard, the owner/trainer as well. Off at 23/1 Class Action defeated the 25/1 odds Tooltime (9f Carmody Lobell-Etoile) with David Thomain aboard for trainer Bjorn Goop. Angle Of Attack (7g Scarlet Knight) was third as the 1.1/1 favorite and reined by Gabriele Gelormini for trainer Robert Bergh. 12/1 Angel d’Or and 44/1 Coco de Rocha completed the top five. The exact order eQuinte+ paid 148,650.20€. The featured Prix Comte Pierre de Montesson, also named the Criterium des Jeunes 2019, (Gr. I, purse 170,000€, 2700 meters) for three year olds saw 3/2 odds Green Grass (3f Bold Eagle-Tootsie Smiling) prevail by a short nose for driver Gabriele Gelormini, trainer Sebastien Guarato and owner Sebastien Dewulf. Green Grass now has six career wins in 10 starts for 238,900€ earned. Race time was 1.14.3kr off even fractions. The 9/1 Golden Bridge (3m Ready Cash-Usenza) was second driven by Yoann Lebourgeois for trainer Philippe Allaire and owner Michel Tessier. 37/1 Girls Talk (3f Brilliantissime-Be My Girl) took third with David Thomain up for trainer Allaire, ahead of another Allaire trainee, the 26/1 Gatsby Perrine (3m Bird Parker-Unabella Perrine) that Anthony Barrier teamed for owner J.F. Mary. 10/1 General du Park was fifth for Alexandre Abrivard, ahead of Granon Vedaquais and Greenpeace. Express Jet (5m Goetmals Wood-Run For Jet) was a powerful, mostly front end harness racing winner of today’s Gr. II Prix Ovide Moulinet (purse 100,000€, 2700 meters, six starters) timed in 1.12.6kr with trainer Pierre Vercruysse aboard at Vincennes. The winner scored for the seventh time in a 30 race career now for 446,860€ in life earnings. The 2.9/1 odds winner defeated 2.4/1 Enino du Pommereux (5m Coktail Jet-Noune du Pommereux) with Matthieu Abrivard up for trainer Sylvain Roger and owner Noel Lolic. Third was the 1.2/1 Earl Simon (5f Prodigious-Tindrana) handled by Franck Ouvrie for Ecurie Skytten and trainer Jarmo Niskanen. The Prix des Pontavices (Gr. III monte, purse 90,000€, 2175 meters) went to the 4/5 odds favorite Boss du Meleuc (8g Lucky Blue-Rafales du Meleuc) timed in a quick 1.10.5kr (fractions 1.07.8kr at the 1500 to go mark; 1.08.9kr at the 1000 and 1.10.8kr with 500 meters remaining) with Alexandre Abrivard in the irons for trainer/owner Yannick Alain Briand. The Boss scored for the 18th time in 61 career starts for 650,100€ earned. The 3/2 second choice Clegs des Champs (7g Legs du Clos) was second for David Thomain, trainer Thierry Raffegeau and owner J.Y. Roze. 52.8/1 Codie de Beaulieu (7g Oyonnax) was third for jockey Mathieu Mottier. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink

Monday’s action at Le Croise Laroche was led by the Prix Ganymede (purse €22,000, 2825 meters, 16 starters) and the 1.17.9kr timed winner was 10/1 Bonheur Nocturne (7g Ni Ho Ped d’Ombree-Rencontre Joyeuse) clocked in 1.17.9kr. Pierre Vercruysse teamed the winner for trainer Guy Verva. 3.4/1 Banquro (7g Ready Cash-Le Suedoise) was second for Guillermo Roig-Balaguer, the trainer/driver. 5.9/1 Beatnik Turgot (7g Otello Pierji-Harpe d’Or) took third for Florian Desmigneux driving for trainer B.J. Crebas. Vercruysse returned a winner with 6.2/1 Elixir Castelets (4m Coktail Jet-Ophelie Jet)  in the Prix Poroto (purse €15,000, 2700 meters autostart, 16 starters)  timed in 1.16.7kr. Elixir Castelets The owner/trainer  is Yannick Desmet of the winner defeated even money Eliazure (4f Ready Cash-Ticola Williams)  driven by Rick Ebbinge for trainer Paul Hagoort and owner Jos. Vanduffel. Third was 25/1 Encore Sun (4m Navarro Sun-Quille des Brovets) driven by Nico d’Haenens for trainer Henk Grift.   Thomas Hicks

November 3, 2017 - Well regarded Cobra Bleu (5m Fortuna Fant-Nuit Irisee) returned in victory today at Le Croise Laroche, winning the harness racing Grand Prix du Nord 5Ans (purse €40,000, 2825 meters distance handicap, 10 starters) clocked in 1.15.3kr. Pierre Vercruysse drove Cobra Bleu, one that he also trains, for breeder/owner Nathalie Chepdelaine. The 2/5 favorite overcame a 25 meter handicap, and after catching his rivals, staged a four wide move to the lead with a lap remaining, to defeat 7/1 Chic (5f Look de Star-Marine du Hausey), Franck Nivard up,  and 10/1 Coeur de Loup (5g Jet Fortuna-Otra Luna) reined by trainer Philippe Deaugeard. Cobra Bleu scored his second 2017 win in only three starts and now has 10 career victories for €442,640 earned. Cobra Bleu is one to watch at the Vincennes Winter Meet. He has shown up before, placing second last Christmas day in the Criterium Continental and he won Gr. II events such as the Prix Phaeton and Prix Ephrem Houel, also in 2016. Evening racing this day at Paris-Vincennes was highlighted by the Quinte+ Prix Barbara (purse €48,000, 2100 meters autostart, 18 starters) that resulted in a 1.13.3kr timed victory by 43/1 Agi de Crenes (7g Joyou d’Amour-Ovation de Crennes) reined by J.P. Maillard. 8.2/1 Atout de Gainaut (7g Gazouillis) was next for Eric Raffin and third was 4.7/1 Aquero de Soudes (7g Dahir de Prelong) for Alain Laurent. Monday the Paris-Vincennes afternoon program will be worth tracking with its three Gr. II events and other meaningful contests. PRIX REYNOLDS 120 000€ Groupe II - Monté - 2 175m - International PRIX REINE DU CORTA 120 000€ Groupe II - Attelé - 2 175m – 3yo females PRIX ABEL BASSIGNY 120 000€ Groupe II - Attelé - 2 175m -3yo males Well respected Tornado Bello (monte), three year old fillies Electra Jet, Elegantissime, Erming d’Oliverie  and three year old colts Express Jet, Espoir Prestance, Eridan and Ecu Pierji will be at the start. Thomas H. Hicks  

September 30, 2017 - Drole de Jet (4m Coktail Jet-Likely Jet-Defi d’Aunou) and harness racing trainer/driver Pierre Vercruysse set the pace and hung on for a neck victory in today’s Gr. I International Grand Prix de l’UET (purse €400,129, 2140 meters autostart, 10 starters, four year olds). The winner, lightly raced by Vercruysse who said his colt is “very good”, left from post two and led from the start, setting a modest tempo. Off at 18/1 on the ATG network Drole de Jet bested 4.3/1 Born In The USA (4m Muscle Hill-Christina Rose-Chocolatier) and driver Erik Hoitomt for trainer Nora Hanssen. Third went to 7/1 Monark Newmen (4m Orlando Vici-Lady Value-Alf Palema) and Fredrik Persson. Gareth Boko was fourth after a pocket journey. The winning Drole de Jet recorded his sixth career victory in 13 starts.  Race time was 1.11.9kr (fractions 1.09.9kr at the first 500 meters, 1.12.5kr at the 1000 mark, 1.13.1kr after 1500 meters).  DROLE DE JET | Grand Prix de l'U.E.T. - Solvalla (30.09.2017) Grand Prix de l'UET 2017, Europe Tour - Victory Celebration Thomas H. Hicks  

June 23, 2017 - Friday evening harness racing action at Paris-Vincennes included the Quinte+ Prix le Parisien (purse €48,000, 2850 meters, 16 starters) with victory to Sweden’s Bison Spiro (6m Sinou Madrik-Juliana Z) driven by Pierre Vercruysse at 9.3/1 odds. Stall Spiritos owns the Mme. Anna-Karin Rundqvist trainee. 4.2/1 Schubert (6m Abano As-Glide Be Nimble) was second with Franck Nivard up for Ecurie Gerrits Recycling and Philippe Billard, trainer. 36/1 Suricato Jet (6m Ideal Luis-Zoy Ami) took the third spot for reinsman Franck Ouvrie. Race time was 1.14.1kr. The undercard this evening was led off by the Prix Lydia (purse €54,000, 2700 meters, 13 starters) and 5.9/1 Crepe de Satin (5f Le Retour-Ina d’Avril) was victorious timed in 1.14.9kr and was driven by Bjorn Goop. Bruno Marie trains this property of Ecurie BKM. 10/1 Chocolat du Bourg (5m Nahar de Beval-Malouvia) was second for Franck Nivard and owner/trainer Joel Van Eeckhaute. Third was 9/1 Chtiot de Bellande (5m Defi d’Aunou-Joyeuse Coulonces). On the same program the €52,000 purse Prix Sappho was raced over 2700 meters by 13 contestants and the 1.14.6kr timed winner was 10/1 Daisy Jenilou (4f Singalo-Rosee Jenilou), handled by Francois Lecanu and trained by P.A. Rynwalt-Boulard. 6/1 Daljemosa (4f Kaiser Soze-Jaldemosa) was next for David Thomain. Later was the Prix Hygica (purse €48,000, 2850 meters, 16 starters) and the 1.13.8kr timed winner was 1.7/1 favorite Sir Ratzeputz (7m Love You-Celebrate) driven by Bjorn Goop. Timo Nurmos trains this one for Guldsvarten AB. 16/1 Rodin (7m Love You-Eva Kant Gianfi) was second for driver G.P. Minnucci, ahead of 65/1 Ungaro d’Eva (9g Ipson de Mormal-Lomolly) and Tony Le Beller. Thomas H. Hicks

The Quinte+ Prix des Blois (purse €95,000, 2100 meters autostart, 14 European starters) today went to 1.12.5kr timed and 3.1/1 odds Altesse du Mirel (6f Ready Cash-Ina de Mirel) racing barefoot. Pierre Vercruysse trains and drive the winner for harness racing owner Mme. Florence Allera and breeder Mlle Anette Holmgren. Altesse record her 12th career victory now for €543.990 earned, leading this one in quick fraction before yielding after the first 1000 meters. She then raced in the pocket until mid-stretch when she rallied between rivals to win. Fractions were as follows (1.10.1lr with 1500 to go; 1.11.4kr with 1000 meters remaining, 1.12.5kr with 500 to go). 4.4/1 Arazi Boko (9g Varenne-Laura Kemp_ was second for Franck Nivard, trainer Fabrice Souloy and Sweden’s Ecurie Piret. 2/1 Unice de Guez (8g Capriccio-Eau Blanche) held third on the pegs for trainer/driver J-M Bazire Replay: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9RZo3yP5W0 The Prix de Murat (purse €54,000, 2850 meters, 18 European starters) went to 5.3/1 Beverly Boulevard (7f Quite Easy-Long Beach) for J-M Bazire, trainer Fabrice Souloy and Swedish owner Mme. Camilla Vikstrom, clocked in 1.15.2kr. 112/1 Cuba Cohiba (8f Scarlet Knight-Havannas Hanna) was second for P-Y Verva ahead of 30/1 Angelina BR (8f Angus Hall-Fiery Chip). The Prix de Saint-Aubin les Elbeuf (purse €85,000, 2850 meters, 10 starters) went to 1.15.2kr timed and 5.5/1 Bad Boy du Dollar (5m Magnificent Rodney-Nymphe du Dollar) with trainer Sylvain Roger up. 4/5 favorite Baladin Hongrois (5g Bon Conseil-Reludie Hongroise) took second for trainer/driver Arnaud Desmottes. 3.8/1 Bel Avis (5g Ganymede-Gloria Maris) was third for trainer/driver J-M Bazire and Wildenstein Stables Ltd. The Prix de Blangy (purse €36,000, 2850 meters, 15 starters) went to fast closing 8.4/1 Deepstack (3m Royal Dream-Missrev) with owner/trainer/driver Bjorn Goop aboard. Jean Philippe Izzo was his breeder. 1.1/1 Dream Cash (3g Ready Cash-Susy Love) was second for trainer/driver Jean-Michel Bazire and owner Ecurie Charmes. 30/1 Diplomate d’Em (3m Love You-Kalmie Melody) was third for trainer Thierry Duvaldestin and pilot Mathieu Abrivard. Race time was 1.15.2kr. Yesterday’s top level monte test was at Vincennes. The 8.7/1 odds Adelia Melodie (6f Lilium Madrik-Piccola Stella) took the Prix d’Honfleur (purse €78,000, 2175 meters, 17 monte entrants) clocked in a sharp 1.12.5kr for Mille Audrey Laroche and trainer Stephane Meunier. Even-money favorite Aventurier Cehere (6g Niky-Iloa de l’Orne was a distant second for Antoine Weils with third to 115/1 Viking de Tremahou (7g Flash de Cosse-Lea Fotuna) for A.Ph. Grimault. Yesterday’s top events in Sweden took place at Solvalla. The Gunnar Nordins (100,000SEK to winner, 2140 meters autostart) went to Globalsatisfaction (4g Kadabra-Glide path-Yankee Glide) for Ulf Ohlsson and trainer Timo Nurmos clocked in 1.14.3kr. Banthechocolate (4f Chocolatier-Bancroft Hall-Conway Hall) was second for Tomi Haapio ahead of Floyd Fortuna (4g Yankee Glide-Jane O’Donnell-SJ’s Photo) with Erik Adielsson driving. The Gosta Nordins (100,000SEK to winner, 2140 meters autostart) went to 1.15.2kr timed Attack Diablo (6g Blue YorkYankee-Chanson d’Inverne-SJ’s Photo) for Christoffer Eriksson driving for Peter Untersteiner. Charrua Forlan and Partout Simoni were next to the line. The card also included the Mehammer Stuteri (100,000SEK to the winner, 1640 meters autostart) for two year-olds. 27/1 Drizzle CC (2f Sam Bourbon-Tucson Yankee-Lindy Lane) scored for driver Pierre Nystrom timed in 1.16.4kr. Violet Bi (2f Equinox Bi) was second for Kenneth Haugstad and trainer Jim Oscarsson. Thomas H. Hicks  

Phillipe Allaire’s Brillantissime (5m Ready Cash-Ivre de Victoire-Buvetier d’Aunou) took today’s Gr. I Premio Duomo UET Masters (purse €110,000, 1600 meters autostart) at Firenze, Italy (1000 meter track) in gate to wire fashion timed in 1.12.4kr. Pierre Vercruysse reined the winner that easily held off Sharon Gar (5f Varenne-Geneve Gar-Lemon Dra) driven by Gaetano Di Nardo and third to Stella di Azzura (5f Supergill-Genny de Azzurra-Pine Chip) for Alessandro Gocciadoro. Note, the second dam of Sharon Gar is Happy Diamonds (Diamond Exchange-Sharon’s Streak-Sirloin).  Interesting to me was the naming of the undercard races after well-known trotters Toss Out, Keystone Patriot, Friendly Face, Intact Hornline, Italiano, Crowns Invitation and Brads Photo. Two undercard winners were Trillo Park (4m Varenne-Mystery Flight-Balanced Image) for Enrico Bellei timed in 1.12.2kr over 1600 meters, and Velvet Dancer (2m Mondiale OK-Natalie Starlight-Self Possessed) in another 1600 meter autostart contest with a purse of €13,200. This winner was clocked in 1.13.1kr. Thomas H. Hicks  

November 20, 2016 - Venkatesh (7m Varenne-Honey Face) stormed home in the four wide path to win the harness racing Prix de Cosse Le Vivien (purse €75,000, 2100 meters, 15 European starters) at Vincennes. The Lutfi Kolgjini trainee was driven by Pierre Vercruysse for Sweden’s Stall Venkatesh. The 21.1/1 odds winner was timed in 1.11.8kr off quick fractions (1.07.6kr at 1500 to go, 1.10.9 at the 1000; 1.12kr at 500 remaining. Even-money favorite Reckless (6m Ready Cash-Haver) held for second the photo finish with Bjorn Goop aboard, also trainer/owner. Ulexa des Plans (8f Jag de Bellouet-Lola Dessuti) was third for pilot Matthieu Abrivard and trainer Philippe Deaugeard. Thomas H. Hicks

Even-money odds Alex The Winner (6m Orlando Vici-Likely Jet) took today’s Amiens featured Prix Vrai Lutin (purse €30,000, 2900 meters, 11 starters) for driver Pierre Vercruysse. Pierre Pilarski  (also owner of Bold Eagle) owns this Jean-Etienne Dubois trainee that was bred by Pierre Alexandre Dubois. The 1.15.7kr timed winner defeated 3.1/1 Andiamo de Monchel (6g Kiwi-Narthys de Monchel) handled by J-M Bazire and 14/1 Amadeus Quick (6g Prince d’Espace-Quinta Vaumicel) for Frank Lecanu and trainer Franck Leblanc. At Cagnes-sur-Mer the Prix de Rome Tor di Valle Memorial (purse €36,000, 2925 meters, eight International starters) went to 1.4/1 favorite Sahara Fairytale (7f Viking Kronos-Sahara Shadow) with Christophe Martens up. This 1.14.2kr timed winner is trained by Vincent Martens for Manocapo AB. 3/1 Varus du Bocage (7m Paisy Dream-Novia du Bocage) was second for trainer/driver Romuald Mourice and 9/1 Undici (8g Kaiser Soze-Jobeth) was third. Also at CSM was the Prix de la Place Navine (purse €30,000, 2925 meters, 13 starters) and 10.1/1 Butler (5m Ready Cash-Odyssee d’Isques) scored for Ch.R. Degiorgio, and breeder/trainer/owner Anders Lindqvist clocked in 1.14.5kr. 13/1 Bebeto (5g Sam Bourbon-Rafala du Rib) was second for trainer/driver J-P Ensch and 4.9/1 Bien Aller (5g Defi d’Aunoiu-Linabelia) was third with owner/driver/trainer Romuald Mourice aboard. Thomas H. Hicks

Friday evenings’ harness racing action at Paris-Vincennes included the Q+ Prix Neptuna (purse €54,000, 2850 meters, 17 entrants) and a host of upper-class events including two Groupe II contests. The Gr. II Prix Gaston de Wazieres (purse €120,000, 2100 meters, 17 female four year-old participants) began the groupe action. 5.4/1 Combattante (4f Sam Bourbon-New York) scored timed in 1.12.4kr for Pierre Vercruysse. Louis Baudron trains and owns the fine mare. 24/1 Caly LouLou (4f Gazouillis-Neige de Genetine) took second for trainer/driver Matthieu Abrivard and 47/1 Clara du Pontseuil (4f Mich Phili-Osaka d’Occagnes) was third to the line. The Gr. II Prix Gaston Brunet (purse €120,000, 2100 meters, 11 four year-old male starters) was won by 2.3/1 Charly du Noyer (4m Ready Cash-Ornella Jet) timed in 1.12.4kr and reined by Yoann Lebourgeois. Philippe Allaire trains the winner for Olivier Henri Thomas. 19/1 Caid de Jumily (4m Oiseau de Feux-Ravenna) was second for Matthieu Abrivard and 3.8/1 Clif du Pommereux (4m Love You-Noune du Pommereux) took third spot for trainer/driver Sylvain Roger. Charly du Noyer The Q+ started the festivities and the 1.12.9kr clocked winner was 1.7/1 Akayama (6f Prodigious-Nirosaka) with David Thomain aboard for trainer Alain Roussel. She defeated 3.2/1 Verzee Carisaie (7f Ni Ho Ped d’Ombree-Harmonie Carisaie) handed by Eric Raffin for owner/trainer J-Et. Thuet.  Outsider Vizzavona (7f l’As de Viretaute-Gocity Coulonces) at 73/1 was third for owner/trainer/driver M-X Charlot. The Prix Aletheia (purse €75,000, 2850 meters, 14 starters) was next and the 1.13.1kr winner was 2.3/1 Aubrion du Gers (6g Memphis du Rib-J;arrive du Gers) with trainer/owner Jean-Michel Bazire at the lines. 2.3/1 co-choice Athos des Volos (6m Lynx de Bellouet-Penelope des Volos) rallied for second with Matthieu Abrivard driving and 4.6/1 Aero King (6g Hooper-Quormina du Hour) held third for reinsman Anthony Barrier. Near end of the program, and on the petit piste, was the Prix Palma (purse €35,000, 2850 meters, 12 three year-old filly starters) and 5/2 odds Datcha (3f The Best Madrik-Quoska des Arris) was an easy winner for Franck Nivard and trainer Emmanuele Ruault. Ecurie Comte P de Montesson is the owner. 12/1 Dynamite du Boulay (3f Defi d’Aunou-Mona Lisa Jet) rallied for second with Eric Raffin up for trainer Thierry Reffegeau. Third was 11.3/1 Dunyasha (3f Sam Bourbon-Troila du Corta) that Gabby Gelormini teamed for trainer Yves Boireau and owner Jean-Pierre Dubois; The race time for these lightly raced females was 1.18.4kr. Thomas H. Hicks

It's official...Jordan Stratton has replaced Jerry Lewis as the new American genius in France. Stratton led Yonkers Raceway's quintet of harness racing drivers Sunday afternoon to a win over their French counterparts in the opening round of the inaugural Drivers' Cup. Round One was contested in two races, each featuring 10 trotters at the mile-and-one-quarter distance and included in the seven events simulcast to a French-hubbed audience. Scoring was compiled using a 17/12/9/7/6/5/4/3/2/1/ points formula (five points in the event of a scratch, an occurrence which did not come into play here). Stratton picked up the gauntlet for the locals, earning a share of a win with 23-1 Lily's Swan Pond ($15.80 dead-heat win mutuel) in the $18,800 first event and easily winning the second event with Cousin Eddie ($7.40) The first event (2:31.2) was a Yonkers' sweep, with captain Jason Bartlett getting the other half of the win pie with 11-10 favorite Hasty Proffitt ($2.80 dead-heat win mutuel). Headsaregonna Turn (Tyler Buter) was an unlucky third. Stratton was not in a sharing mood in the second race (2:29.4) of the competition, isolated for much of the race with "Eddie" as the pair won by 7¼ lengths. Paris Princess N (Pierre Levesque) was a best-of-the-rest second, with Massive Talent (Dan Dube) third. The final team totals were 85 points for Yonkers (45 + 40), and 47 for France (26 + 21). "It was just an honor for me to be asked to participate," Stratton said. The first trotter (Lily's Swan Pond) hung a bit late, but at least was able to get there for the dead-heat. The second one (Cousin Eddie) is just very sharp right now. "The French drivers are all pros, but they don't have the small-track experience." "This is true," French captain Pierre Vercruysse said. "There are some half-mile tracks in Europe and we do watch (Yonkers) races when they are simulcast to France, so we learned from that. Vercruysse, who did have an extended stateside stay earlier in his career, was appreciative of this return visit. "Everyone in our party was very well-received." Pat Lachance was the fifth Beatle for Yonkers, while France's other participants were Matthieu Abrivard, Nicolas Ensch and Franck Ouvrie. The French returning the hosting favor in June, with Yonkers' contingent going to Paris (Vincennes) for a pair of races. Sunday afternoon's $50,000 Open Handicap Trot, also at the added distance, was won by a repeating Major Athens (Brian Sears, $9.80) in 2:26.3. Frank Drucker

Today’s €40,000 Grand Prix Charles Desrousseaux over 2825 meters drew 11 international harness racing starters at Hippodrome Le Croise Laroche. 6.1/1 Africaine (6f Oiseau de Feux-Italiene) recorded the quick 1.12.7kr victory for reinsman Pierre Vercruysse and owner/trainer Jean-Etienne Dubois. 14.8/1 Ugo de Nieul (8m Cygnus d’Odyssee-Marmonie de Nieul) was second for trainer/driver Romain Derieux with 5.6/1 Adelia de Melodia (6f Lilium Madrik-Piccola Stella) third for Franck Ouvrie. 9/10 favorite Swedishman (10g Gogo-Volgana) was fourth for Thierry Duvaldestin. At Kincsem Park the 600,000Huf Varga Henriett Memorial over 1960 meters went to the fast closing Harlynda (7f Abano As-Sparkling-Coktail Jet) for trainer/driver Veljko Mazszity. This winner recorded victory 14 and 30 starts. Samuel Becket AT (4m Diablo Va Bene-Simb Lorrikeet-Pearsall Hanover) was second driven by trainer Tibor Hajnal. Celebrity Classic (7m Classic Response-Musli Star-Somolli Star) landed the third spot for Csaba Lakatos. Thomas H. Hicks

Friday’s Quinte+ was at Cagnes-sur-mer this evening in the Prix de Barcelone (purse €55,000, 2925 meters distance handicap, 16 European starters) with 13.2/1 Toi de Clerlande holding on for a nose victory timed in 1.14.9kr. Harness racing driver Pierre Vercruysse drove the winner for D-J Henry. 4/1 Un Nuage d’Osmoz (8m Nuage Noir-l’Etoile d’Esprit) overcame a 25 meter handicap to be second for Gabriele Gelormini with 20/1 Tipol de Nappes (9g And Arifant-Fete) home third. Sire de la Creuse and Ulf du Noyer ended fourth and fifth. The Q+ without jackpot returned over €44,200 for a €2 wager. The €38,000 purse Prix de Jerez de la Frontera (2925 meters, nine starters) went to 1.16.9kr winner Consul Madrik (4g Quitus du Mexique-Kiss Me de Trevant). The Franck Anne trainee defeated 1.4/1 favorite Clarabelle (4f Ready Cash-Rebelle) by a nose, the latter driven by owner Jean-Pierre Dubois and trained by Yves Boireau. 16/1 Cinor (4f Orlando Vici-Shire des Douets) was third for Romain Derieux and Ecurie AB Trot. The €30,000 purse Prix de Madrid (2925 meters, eight starters) went to 1.19.4kr timed .5/1 odds favorite Douce Rebelle (3f Sam Bourbon-Rebelle) with owner Jean-Pierre Dubois up. Yves Boireau trains this one too. 12/1 Dame D’Yvel (3f Uniclove-Mitchea) was second for Gabriel Gelormini with 25/1 Dalton Picard (3g Rolling d’Heripre-Une Picarde) third for J-F Senet, also trainer/owner. Rebelle, dam of the winner, is an 11 year-old mare by Defi d’Aunou-Island Dream-Coktail Jet that is reflective opf J-P Dubois’ Classic franco-american pedigrees. She was a winner of US$94,973 on the racetrack and has produced solid money-earners such as Statue of Liberty, Brooks, Clarabelle and Douce Rebelle. Second dam Island Dream earned US$625,000 and produced US$354,000 winner Not Disturb, US$736,000 winning Infinitif and US$355,000 earner Viva Island. .............................................................. Christmas Day (4g Ready Cash-Rocmaline), the .5/1 odds favorite in the Prix de la Societe du Cheval Francais (purse €18,000, 2625 meters, 12 starters), scored timed in 1.17.5kr for Tony Le Beller. 21/1 Crazy Night (4f Halimede-Renegade) was second beaten four lengths with 13/1 Cynthia Clem (4f Hulk des Champs-Quinte Joie) third to the line. The Prix de Boe (purse €24,000, 2575 meters autostart, 16 starters, apprentice drivers) went to the 1.16.8kr winner and 3/2 favorite Soleil de France (10g Giant Cat-Histoire de France) for teamster P-I Desaunet. 12/1 Univers d’Enfer (8m Coktail Jet-Hermine d’Enfer) rallied for second ahead of the 18/1 odds Ta Rose du Boirond (9f Fripon Rose-Jacinthe Express) The Prix d’Amiens (purse €38,000, 2625 meters, 18 European starters) this day at Agen le Passage went to 41/1 Ut Win (8g Kallighan-Kea de Fourcade) for owner/trainer/driver J-H Treich clocked in 1.14.6kr. 6.3/1 Ultra Daidou (8g Love You-Djakarta) was second for Tony Le Beller with 190/1 Titan de Begadan (9g Gazouillis-Idjala de Begadan) was home third in the blanket finish, Saturday racing action at Kincsem Park featured the 1.5Huf million purse Sennyey Geza Memorial over 1800 meters autostart. Credits by Myself (10m Credit Winner-Me Myself and I-On The Take) rallied three wide off the final bend and got up to win in the final strides for reinsman Dejan Katanic and trainer Aron Denes timed in 1.16.3kr. He was off at 50.5/1 odds. Grumetti (8g Varenne-Tabora-Pine Chip), at 2.8/1 odds, set the pace off the gate for Balazs Juhcsz and trainer Denes and held gamely to salvage second with Milliondollar Lux (10m Ganymede-Dadaumpa Jet-Supergill) between horses third for trainer/driver Emil Csordas at 7.4/1. Favorite Rinette Streamline was disqualified for a miscue. On the Kincsem Park card, the Mothers Song Handicap for 360,000Huf went to the 1.17.7kr winner Offenbach Bigi (8m Andover Hall-Pinebank) for trainer/driver Emil Csordas. Off at 2.4/1 this winner bested Zavita Meerswal and Szimfonia. Thomas H. Hicks  

Cobra Bleu (4m Fortuna Fant-Nuit Irisee) took Saturday’s featured Gr, II Prix de la Republique de Bachkirie (purse €120,000, 2850 meters, 12 starters) at Paris-Vincennes. The winner scored as 1.4/1 harness racing favorite, timed in 1.14.8kr over a sloppy course. Pierre Vercruysse is trainer/driver of Cobra Bleu for owner G.E. Morin. The well-bred 27/1 Calita Wood (4f Goetmals Wood-Qualita Bourbon) was a fast closing second for Bernard Piton, trainer Yves Boireau and owner Jean-Pierre Dubois. 20/1 Canari Match (4m Extreme Aunou-Ruelle d’Ostal) was third for Frederic Prat. The winner’s sire Fortuna Fant is a son of And Arifant that won the Criterium des Jeunes and Prix Paul Viel at age three. Three year-olds contested the Prix JSS Hippodrome de Russie (purse €32,000, 2700 meters, 13 starters) and 2.6/1 Dobra Droga (3f Goetmals Wood-Oublies Moi) recorded the 1.17.7kr victory for driver Franck Nivard, trainer Fabrice Soukoy and Ecurie Hodij Coatings BV. 152/1 Desideria (3f Coktail Jet-Tentation de Star) was second for trainer/driver P-Y Verva with 1.4/1 favorite Dame Island home fourth for J-M Bazire. Uza Josselyn (5f L’As de Viretaute-Hada) took the Quinte+ Prix CTA Commonwealth Trotting Association (purse €72,000, 2700 meters, 15 European entrants) timed in 1.13.6kr for trainer/driver J-M Bazire. 4/1 Belle Bauloise (5f Ludo de Castelle-Sweet Pearl) ended second for William Bigeon with 9/1 Easytowin home third for Franck Nivard. 45/1 Babylone Seven was fourth for Gabriele Gelormini with fifth to 150/1 Sheyla EK (5f Varenne-Camargue OM) driven by Santo Mollo and trainer Cristian Rizzo and Scuderia RM Team SRL. Today’s card and Sunday as well honored Russia and its equine industry. The monte performers battled in the Prix de la Region Varone J (purse €88,000, 2700 meters, 12 European monte starters) with the 1.14.2kr victory to 1.4/1 favorite Tayson de Houelle (9g Insert Gede-Irina de la Frette) for Eric Raffin, trainer Franck Leblanc and Ecurie Pricing Power. 10.6/1 Art On Line (9g Rite On Line-Lass Fleur) was second with Damien Bonne driving for trainer Fabrice Souloy andTeam Art On Line AB. 7/2 Ugolin du Maine ended third for Mathieu Abrivard. Your Highness (7m Chocolatier-La Belle Lady) took the Prix de la Region Irkoutsk (purse €95,000, 2100 meters autostart, 11 European starters) timed in a sharp 1.11.5kr as the 0.5/1 favorite over the sprinter distance. Franck Nivard was aboard for trainer Fabrice Souloy and PV Racing Stable HB. 4.2/1 Val Royal (7m Capriccio-Quarta de Rib) was second for trainer/driver J-M Bazire and Ecurie des Charmes with 18.5/1 Tropic du Hetre (9g Jasmin de Flore-Ixia de Perthuis) third for Eric Raffin. In Sunday’s Grand Prix de France Rolling d’Heripre has been scratched in the race billed as a battle renewed between Timoko and Bold Eagle. Thomas H. Hicks

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