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The gallant 11-year-old Commander Crowe took the prestigious Gr. I International Aby Stora Prix today in Sweden in a raceoff with the other heat winner Quid Pro Quo. The gelded son of Juliano Star-Somark-Mack Lobell recorded his 60th career victory in 102 starts, now for earnings of 32,010,516SEK, that is over US$4,669,000 at today's conversion rate. The race-off began with the Commander from post one (determined by coin flip), Orjan Kihlstrom up, and Quid Pro Quo electively started from post five to gain advantage from the banked track. Erik Adielsson hustled Quid Pro Quo (5m Yankee Glide-Hostage-Express Ride) to the front and set a reasonable pace. Then in front of the stands, and abundant cheering fans, Orjan Kihlstrom took a hard shot at the youthful leader but could not clear. Commander dropped behind his rival around the second turn and then again made a harder challenge for the lead on the backstretch. Despite heavy urging by Adielsson, Quid Pro Quo's desire was broken and the Commander surged past with 400 meters to go and opened a quick five lengths that he extended to ten bythe  top of stretch. Kihlstrom put the whip away and jogged to the line eased up in 1.12.1kr (1:56.01 mile rate) to pocket another 400,000SEK for Snopgarps Gard AB and trainer Fabrice Souloy, in what was a strategically superb match-race. Quid Pro Quo earned 100,000SEK for his raceoff effort and for the day he earned 700,000SEK. The Aby Stora Pris commenced in 1936 and has been raced each year since. Sebastian K won the 2012 and 2013 editions and that horse was lauded today with videos of his successes and free t-shirts for the fans. Rapide Lebel, Lisa America and Torvald Palema won this race in 2011, 2010 and 2009. Race record before today's heats was 1.11.3kr set by Red Chili Pirat in 2006. Double winners of the Aby Stora Pris include some greats - Sebastian K. (2012, 2013), Gidde Palema (2003, 2005), Victory Tilly (2000, 2002), Zoogin (1995, 1996), Idéal du Gazeau (1981, 1982), Lyon (1970, 1972), Gelinotte (1956, 1957) and Iran Scott (1951, 1952). Ake Svanstedt has won the race six times as driver and Stig H. Johansson is a five-time winner. North American-bred winners have included Sea Cove and Prince Mystic. Roosevelt International competitors also won this classic, including 1960 Roosevelt winner Hairos II (Willem Geersen), Oscar RL (Henri Levesque), Roosevelt winner in 1981-1983 Ideal du Gazeau (Eugene Lefevre), 1990 Roosevelt victor Reve d'Udon, and Pluvier III (Gunnar Nordin), the Roosevelt winner in 1965. Quid Pro Quo (5m Yankee Glide-Hostage-Express Ride) took heat one from post six with a decisive victory in 1.10.3kr. Owned by Stall Gladiator the winner recorded his first 2014 win in eight starts, now for career earnings for 5,040,760SEK. Erik Adielsson handled the winner that defeated Norway’s Juliano Rags reined by Noralf Braekken with Reven d’Amour third for Bjorn Goop. Commander Crowe left from post five but was unable to clear the front and raced without cover throughout for Orjan Kihlstrom. The Crowe faded to seventh. Joke Face made a miscue at the start.  The second heat was a surprise as Commander Crowe left hard again for Orjan Kihlstrom from post four, but this time he made the front with Quid Pro Quo in the pocket. Joke Face was first to move but was unable to get alongside the Commander as Kihlstrom rated the pace and accelerated  enough to win by a length from Quid Pro Quo with Juliano Rags third ahead of Solvato. Time for the 1640 meter autostart test was 1.10kr (1:52.63 mile rate). The victory for Commander Crowe was number 59 in 101 starts, now for earnings of 31,610,516. Snopgarps Gard AB owns the winner. The heat winners earned 400,000SEK for their victories. The undercard so far has produced interesting winners. Sylvester America scored in 1.15.2kr over 2140 meters autostart for trainer Jerry Riordan and reinsman Johan Untersteiner. The Italian bred three year-old son of Varenne-Armbro Voice-Garland Lobell recorded his fourth win in 10 starts for owner Lisa Riordan, and earned 50,000SEK first money. The Klass II Final for 200,000SEK to the winner went to Poker Kronos (5g Viking Kronos-Frances Lavec-Tenor de Baune) for trainer/driver Robert Bergh. He scored in 1.12.6kr for his fifth win in seven 2014 appearances, and his fifth straight. My Gliding Angel (4f Yankee Glide-My Shooting Star-Malabar Man) also won on the card in 1.13.6kr for trainer/driver Bjorn Goop in a narrow three-way photo over the Varenne mare Rare Wise As (Linda Allercrantz up for trainer Jerry Riordan) and favorite Backfire was home third with Johnny Takter up. Another US import, Single Sock, finished fourth. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink.com      

Trainer Richard Westerink's Timoko, a winner of over €2.68 million, leads Sunday's Gr. I Gran Prix de Wallonie field at Mons Ghlin. Bjorn Goop will team this favorite in the €180,000 purse UET Masters Series event. Uhlan du Val, Roi du Lupin and Pascia'Lest are the likely closest rivals. August 10, 2014 Mons Ghlin (BE), Gran Prix de Wallonie, Gr. I International UET Masters Series, €180,000 purse, 2300 meters autostart, 9 starters Horse in post-position order, driver/trainer, career earnings in euros, country Olmo Holz, Christophe Martens, Vincent Martens, 524,696, Italy Pascia'Lest, Roberto Andreghetti, Thierry Duvaldestin, 983,772, Italy Paladin Bleu, Bernard Piton, Lois Thieulent, 769,610, FR Roi du Lupin, Anthony Barrier, J-P Marmion, 1,708,845, FR Timoko, Bjorn Goop, Richard Westerink, 2,689,690, FR Uhlan du Val, Cedrik Megissier driver/trainer, 837,890, FR Deuxieme Picsous, Jos. Verbeeck, F. Lejon, 618,469, SWE Onyx d'Em, Rik Dupuydt, Mme. C. DeSoete, 706,121, FR Oibambam Effe, Salvatore Carre trainer/driver, 337,542, Italy Separately, following a poor effort under saddle this week at Enghien, it was announced that former great international speedster Rapide Lebel will likely be retired. Both trainer Guarato and driver Eric Raffin reportedly stated that his career should end, albeit final decision rests with the owner. The nine year-old gelded son of Ginger Somolli earned €1,816,922 with three Gr. I career victories and a speed record of 1.09.4kr. Thomas H. Hicks  

Uppercut de Manche (6g Neutron du Cebe-Nuit de Manche-Coktail Jet) easily took today's Gr. II International UET Masters Series Prix de Londres (€120,000 purse, 2875 meters, 13 starters) monte test at Hippodrome Enghien-Soisy. Damien Bonne reined the winner (to his 12th career win for €294,450 life earnings), trained by Thierry Reffegeau for owner Jean-Yves Roze. Timed in 1.13kr, the winner, off at 2.1/1 odds, vanquished veteran ten year-old Quarlos with Mathieu Mottier aboard, with 68/1 Risque Tout third for Philippe Masschaele, who rode in Canada this past weekend. Well-regarded Sam Gibus and Rapide Lebel were disqualified. The exceptional Enghien card today also included the €80,000 Prix de la Porte d'Italie (European, 2875 meters, 11 starters) that went to Ravenna with Franck Nivard up for trainer Fabrice Souloy. The Denmark registered six year-old son of Legendary Lover K-Coccola Jet-Supergill scored in 1.14.3kr at 4.7/1 odds to record his ninth career win, now for €205,126 earnings. Vabellino, the 9/10 favorite, was second for Eric Raffin and trainer Fabrice Souloy, with Italian invaders Plutonio (5m Self Possessed) third for Franck Ouvrie and Olimpus Caf (6m Varenne) fourth for Damien Bonne. The €70,000 Prix de la Concorde (European, 2875 meters, 12 starters) went to Sometime (8f Blue Dream-Isaline Fortiniere-Vikings Way) at 2.6/1 odds for reinsman Christophe Martens and trainer Vincent Martens. The mare recorded her 10th career win for €395,360 as she overcame a 25 meter handicap. Recital du Lys was second for Damien Bonne and Saphir de Fille, also handicapped 25 meters, ended third for Eric Raffin. Well-regarded Alex The Winner (4m Orlando Vici-Likely Jet-Defi d'Aunou) took the Prix de Nouzonville (€65,000 purse, 2875 meters, 14 starters) that was the Quinte+ race of the day, with a €3 million jackpot. Owner/trainer Jean-Etienne Dubois teamed the winner, timed in 1.15.1kr, to his sixth career win, now for earnings of €145,370. Off at 3/1, Alex The Winner defeated Atout du Lerre, with trainer Franck Anne aboard at 16/1, and third place Act Of Love, at 24/1 for Mathieu Mottier. The fourth and fifth place finishers were off at 14/1 and 28/1 and the exact order €2 ticket interestingly paid only €11,590. Win/place only handle on the Q+ race was over €998,600. Thomas H. Hicks

The $5 million Breeders Crown year-end championships will return to Canada in 2015 after a two-year hiatus. Woodbine Entertainment Group has signed a letter of intent to host all 12 events in the fall of next year announced WEG Executive Vice-President of Racing Jamie Martin and Tom Charters, president of the Hambletonian Society, which owns and administrates the series. Woodbine last hosted all 12 races in 2011 and 2012, handling more than $8.5 million on the events, and luring international stars Rapide Lebel and Commander Crowe to compete against North America's greatest trotters - San Pail and Chapter Seven -- for Crown titles that resulted in eventual Horse of the Year honors. Details on dates and format of the events are to be determined.   by Moira Fanning, for the Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown  

Hippodrome Enghien-Soisy today featured the Gr. II International UET Masters Series Prix de Washington, a one-mile autostart test for a purse of €120,000. Ten horses battled in this one, on a rain-made soggy clay surface, including heavily favored Univers de Pan. Off the mobile gate Pierre Vercruysse hustled Napoleon Bar to the front from post four. Pascia’Lest took the pocket immediately.  Napoleon Bar maintained his advantage to the line to win by a diminishing length. Pascia’Lest held the pocket position for Franck Nivard until emerging late to gain second. Roi du Lupin  raced in the death seat with Univers de Pan and Philippe Daugaerd  behind that one and veteran Ru de L’Airou third on the inner. Rapide Lebel was rough gaited at the start, lost position, and raced third on the outer before again becoming choppy gaited late to finish eighth. Behind Napoleon Bar at the finish in order were Pascia’Lest, Roi de L’Airou with Pierre Levesque up closing on the inner, Univers de Pan on the outside and game Roi du Lupin holding stoutly fifth. Univers de Pan lacked his usual kick at the end and albeit gaining slightly lost a photo for third as the 3/2 favorite. The race was clocked in 1.10.7kr after a modestly rated pace (1.11.5kr at the 500 meters to go mark), far off the race record of 1.09.4k set by Rapide Lebel in 2012 and followed by 1.10kr in 2009 by that winner Premiere Speed. June 28, 2014, Enghien-Soisy, Prix de Washington, €120,000 purse Gr. II International UET Masters Series, 1609 meters autostart, 10 starters, 1.10.7kr (time 1:53.81) Napoleon  Bar (7m Varenne-Dalmazia-Coktail Jet), Pierre Vercruysse up for trainer Catello Savarese and owner Emiliano Stecca, 2.1/1, Italy, his 15th career win for €811,671 earnings Pascia’Lest (5m Varenne-Superiors Sun-Diamond Way), Franck Nivard for trainer Thierry Duvaldestin and owner Samuele Querci, 5.8/1, Italy, career earnings now €983,772 Roi de L’Airou (9g Cygnus d’Odyssee-Cour d’Intheville-Opior), Pierre Levesque aboard for trainer Patrick Martin, 42/1 Napoleon Bar is from the Italian registered mare Dalmazia (Coktail Jet-Takeda-Mon Tourbillon). Next dam Madamacristina is by Top Hanover, a son of Ayres-Elaine Rodney. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink.com

The International Gr. II Prix de Washington headlines the Saturday June 28 card at Enghien, France. Veteran gleding Rapide Lebel is in the field along with 2014 successful international star Univers de Pan and recent winner Napoleon Bar. This test for €120,000 purse is one of the few one-mile autostart events in France. The field includes four career winners of over one million euro. June 28, 2014 Enghien, Prix de Washington, International  Gr. II UET Masters Series, €120,000 purse, 1609 meters autostart, 10 starters In post position order, horse, driver, life earnings in euros Quoumba de Guez, J-M Bazire, 1,162,469 Rapide Lebel, Eric Raffin, 1,816,922 Napoleon Bar, Pierre Vercruysse, 863,365 Pascia’Lest, Enrico Bellei, 953,772 Ru de a’Airou, Pierre Levesque, 660,720 Roi du Lupin, Anthony Barrier, 1,645,345 Univers de Pan, Philippe Daugeard, 1,375,430 Viscaria, G. Gillot, 313,260 Tornade di Digeon, F. Darondel, 432,120 Alizua du Kastel, Emmanuel Allard, 221,690 by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink.com

The next round of Scandinavian trotting classics occurs Saturday at Kouvola, Finland with the Gr. I Kymi Grand Prix with a €150,000 purse (2100 meters autostart course). Last year’s winner Womanizer will battle 2014 Elitloppet winner Timoko (Bjorn Goop to drive) and 11-year-old champion Commander Crowe, a winner last weekend at Wolvega against weak competiton. Robin Bakker will team the Commander for trainer Fabrice Souloy.  Commander Crowe won this event in 2009 and 2012. Prussia, Italy’s Ken Warkentin mare that was sixth in the Elitloppet final, will be at the start for trainer/driver Pietro Gubellini. Jag de Bellouet recorded that fastest time in 2006 at 1.11.1kr. Kymi Grand Prix - €150.000 – Gr. I UET Masters Series – 2100 meters autostart 1.            Up Date Hoss (Erik Adielsson) 2.            Bagley (Johnny Takter) 3.            Commander Crowe (Robin Bakker) 4.            Deuxieme Picsous (Peter Ingves) 5.            Amour d’Occagnes (Christopher Martens) 6.            Ed You (Mika Forss) 7.            Aaron de Veluwe (Tuomas Korvenoja) 8.            Prussia (Pietro Gubellini) 9.            Womanizer (Tommi Kylliäinen) 10.          Timoko  (Björn Goop) 1998-2013 winners of this top race in Finland, begun in 1998, are shown below. Year Winner Sex/Age Coutry Timekr Sire Driver Second Third 2013 Womanizer S H.9  Suède 1'12"2 Tap In Tommi Kylliäinen Hard Livin Caddie Comet 2012 Commander Crowe H.9  Suède 1'12" Juliano Star Christophe Martens Womanizer Maxwell Mayday 2011 Rapide Lebel H.6  France 1'12"8 Ginger Somolli Éric Raffin Lisa America Amour Ami 2010 Brioni M.7  Allemagne 1'12"7 Timberland Joakim Lövgren Oceano Nox Lisa America 2009 Commander Crowe H.6  Suède 1'13" Juliano Star Peter Ingves Marathon Man Oceano Nox 2008 L'Amiral Mauzun H.9  France 1'12"3 Bon Conseil Jean-Michel Bazire Going Kronos Arras 2007 Camilla Highness F.7  Suède 1'12"8 Super Arnie Peter Ingves Spring Ray Lupin de l'Odon 2006 Jag de Bellouet M.9  France 1'11"1 Viking's Way Christophe Gallier Lass Zefyr Passionate Kemp 2005 Prime Prospect M.6  États-Unis 1'12"8 Primrose Lane Andrea Guzzinati Tag the Devil Cold Hard Wind 2004 Kart de Baudrairie H.5  France 1'13"2 Bridge Jean-Michel Bazire Tag the Devil Classico Merett 2003 Flambeau des Pins M.7  France 1'13"2 Quiton du Coral Mathieu Fribault E.V.Cane Noa Savoy 2002 Legendary Lover K. M.7  États-Unis 1'14" Armbro Goal Steen Juul Jam Pridem Général du Pommeau 2001 Exchequer M.9  France 1'13"5 Takima Ahti Antti-Roiko Com Hector Lanceur 2000 BWT Magic M.4  Finlande 1'14"9 Lançon Ahti Antti-Roiko Incognito Kemp The Bad Boy 1999 Défi d'Aunou M.8  France 1'14"9 Armbro Goal Jean-Étienne Dubois Meadowbranch Lou Louise Laukko 1998 Dryade des Bois F.7  France 1'14"6 Off Gy Jos Verbeeck Express First Call Me by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink.com    

Friday’s card at Paris-Vincennes is highlighted by two graded events, one being monte, and the day’s Quinte+ event with the jackpot over €3 million. The classic €120,000 Prix Chambon P starts off the card, a Gr. II international UET Masters Series event with 10 quality starters. Uhlan du Val is the early choice and will be handled by reinsman Cedrik Megissier. The Prix Lavater for monte specialists is a distance handicap event and the early favored Atlessima starts with a 25 meter penalty. Erik Raffin will be in the irons of Atlessima. Prix Chambon P, Gr. II UET Master Series International, €120,000, 2850 meters, 10starters Oropuro Bar, Marco Smorgon,  Italy Olmo Holz, Christophe Martens, Italy Ru de l’Airou, Pierre Levesque, FR Une Fille d’Amour, David Thoman,  FR Uhlan du Val, Cedrik Megissier, FR Rapide du Digeon, Damien Bonne, FR Roxana de Barbray, Pierre Vercruysse, FL Severino, Christian Bigeon, FR Quinoa du Gers, Franck Nivard, FR Reve de Beylev, Eric Raffin, FR Early choices-Uhlan du Val, Severino, Olmo Holz Prix Lavater, Gr. II Monte, €120,000, 2850 meters distance handicap, 10 starters Astree de l’iton, Yohan Lebourgeois Anna Mix, Franck Nivard Agrippine, Alexandre Abrivard Aquarelle de Fael, David Thomain Aston Fly, Jonathan Carre Al Capone Jet, Mathieu Abrivard Airport, Pierre-Yves Verva A Nous Deux, Nathalie Henry Asana Trembladaise, Anthony Dollion Atlessima, Eric Raffin, travels 2875 meters Early choices-Atlessima, Anna Mix, A Nous Deux Prix Pythia, European, €72,000, 2700 meters, 17 starters, Quinte+ jackpot €3,050,000 Ugor du Beauvoisin, Alexandre Abrivard Elles W.Phedo, J-M Bazire, Sweden Orione Degli Dei, Pierre Vercruysse, Italy Uprince, Franck Nivard Tamara Jiel, Jos. Verbeeck Richmond Park, Frederic Senet Tintin d’Ecouves, Mathieu Abrivard Krangel, Damine Bonne, Sweden Sometime, Christophe Martens Titus de Baffais, Thierry Duvaldestin Touch of Quick, Eric Raffin Tpoaze de Gournay, P-Y Verva Sam Gibus, Sebastien Baude Ton Reve de Cahot, David Thomain Ugo de Nieul, Romain Derieux Radjah de Venel, Anthony Barrier Tornado Bello, Pierre Levesque Early choices-Uprince, Tornado Bello,Orione Degli Dei In other news,  Commander Crowe trained yesterday at Caen and is expected to race next week at Wolvega in preparation for the Kymi Grand Prix at Kouvola, a race that he won in 2009 and 2012. It was also reported that Rapide Lebel is being aimed for the June 28 Prix de Washington. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink.com

Timoko returned to form tonight by winning the Gr. II UET Master Series 120,000e Prix Kerjacques at Vincennes. The Richard Westerink owned/trained classmaster scored in 1.12.7kr over the 2700 meter distance for teamster Bjorn Goop. Goop was fast off the start and gained command before yielding to Rapide Lebel in the first lap stretch. The pair then re-took the front before yielding to Rapide du Digeon and Franck Nivard. Nivard dictated an easy pace and held the front until Timoko left the pocket and assumed the lead for good halfway down the long Paris-Vincennes stretch. Rapide du Digeon held for second with veteran Roi du Lupin third. Rapide Lebel enjoyed a three spot trip along the inner, followed Timoko's move and then tired in the stretch to finish a well-beaten sixth. May 2, 2014 Paris-Vincennes, Prix Kerjacques, 120,000e, 2700 meters, Gr. II UET Masters Series, 10 starters Fractions: 1.13.7kr at 1500; 1.13.4kr at 1000; 1.13.3kr at 500; 1.12.7kr finish 1st Timoko (7m Imoko-Kiss Me Coulonces-And Arifant), Bjorn Goop up for Richard Westerink trainer/owner, 6.8/1 2nd Rapide du Digeon (9g Urfist des Pres-Gerveine Barnes), Franck Nivard up for Thierry Raffegeau, 7/1 3rd Roi du Lupin (9g Fleuron Perrine-Helia de Saint), Anthony Barrier for J-P Marmion, 0.8/1 Back in field Quoumba de Guez 5th; Rapide Lebel 6th; dq were Severino and Striking Actions by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink.com    

Champion French gelding Rapide Lebel makes his return to group racing in the120,000 euro Prix Kerjacques, a UET Masters Series event and the first race on the card at Vincennes on Friday evening. Sebastien Guarato's 9YO son of Ginger Somolli will make his first appearance since running third in the Prix Paul Buquet in December 2012. The gelding was sidelined and briefly retired with a hairline fracture which has since responded to treatment. Since he was out for more than 12 months, he had to requalify at Grosbois, which he did in style in mid-March and then crossed the border into Belgium for a warm-up race, which he trotted in record time of 1.14.4kr for 2850m on the Hippodrome Wallonie, at Mons. However Guarato's star did not train on to his liking and he decided to bypass last week's Olympiatravet final in favour of tomorrow's Prix Kerjacques. It will be interesting to see if the third-ranked horse in France's stellar R-generation can recapture the form he showed in 2011 when he won four group ones in Belgium, Finland and Sweden and two group twos in France, and also finished runner-up in the Elitloppet and the North American Breeders Crown, which was that year held at Woodbine in Canada. Rapide Lebel has won 29 races and 1,814,522 euros, thus far, putting him third on the money earnings of the crop of 2005. Thierry Raffegeau's accomplished gelding Roi du Lupin was second to Quinoa du Gers in last week's Criterium de Vitesse de Basse Normandie, the second time he had been runner up in Argentan's biggest race. The fifth-highest money earner of the R-generation is most accomplished under saddle, but like Rapide Lebel, being a gelding restricts him from all of the classique races, and to have earned 1.55 million euros speaks volumes for his ability. In 2012, his best year, he won no less than four group two montes and also the rich group two Grand Prix de Sud Ouest, (180,000 euros). He was also runner up in three monte group twos and two under harness group two races. Last year he only started twice, both times under saddle with a second placing in the Prix du Calvados, but he returned to the track this year in January, although so far he has raced solely in the bike, with two minor wins in Belgium before he gradually stepped up in class. French handicappers have liked what they have seen and he was the early favourite. Richard Westerink's Timoko was a disappointment in the Prix d'Atlantique, with questions asked about the drive of Pierre Vercruysse afterwards after he finished fourth. Top Swedish driver Bjorn Goop is aboard the talented stallion son of Imoko for the Prix Kerjacques, with Vercruysse aboard Austrian entrant Striking Actions who races out of the Dominique Locqueneux stable. Love You stallion Ulysse has also been more prominent in monte racing of larte but Mike Lenders has stuck his under saddle star back in harness for a crack at the 120,000 euros, which in France of course pays down to seventh place, leaving only two to go home empty handed here. Rapide du Digeon, Quoumba de Guez and Severino have attracted some support in early markets, although the vast majority of the money is on the three big names. PRIX KERJACQUES Vincennes 02/05/14 FR Group 2 Int, UET Masters Series 2700m 6-10 120 000 euros 1 Tintin d'Ecouves (h Lucky d'Hilly - Oasis de la Basle) Dr: Mathieu Abrivard Tr: Vincent Jarry 2 Striking Actions (h Oaklea Bluejay - Dream Qui) Dr: Pierre Vercruysse Tr: Dominik Locqueneux 3 Ulysse (h Love You - Loctudy) Dr: Pierre Levesque Tr: Mike Lenders 4 Rapide du Digeon (v Urfist des Pres - Gerveine Barbes) Dr: Franck Nivard Tr: Thierry Raffegeau 5 Severino (h Gobernador - Katia de Tillard) Dr: Christian Bigeon Tr: Christian Bigeon 6 Quoumba de Guez (s Urfist des Pres - Vanina de Mareuil) Dr: Jean Michel Bazire Tr: Jean Michel Bazire 7 Roi du Lupin (v Fleuron Perrine - Helia de Saint Pol) Dr: Anthony Barrier Tr: Jean Paul Marmion 8 Rapide Lebel (v Ginger Somolli - Koranie des Noes) Dr: Eric Raffin Tr: Sebastien Guarato 9 Timoko (h Imoko - Kiss Me Coulonces) Dr: Björn Goop Tr: Richard Westerink by David Sanders, for Harnesslink.com

After a mediocre test at Mons Ghlin recently, connections of Rapide Lebel have reportedly opted out of the April 26 Olympiatravet Final at Aby. Instead, trainer Sebastien Guarato and owner Alexander Battal hope to re-test their comeback kid again in Belgium and will focus of the Prix Kerjacques on May 2 at Paris-Vincennes Noras Bean won Saturday's second Olympiatravet test at Jagersro. Remaining prelims are at Ekilstuna on April 12 and Romme on April 20 by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink.com              

The veteran Rapide Lebel won his first start for money since December 2012 tonight at Hippodrome Wallonie (Belgium), scoring in a track record 1.14.4kr over 2850 meters. Eric Raffin drove the Sebastien Guarato trainee for owner Alexander Prevost to his 29th career win for earnings of over £1.8 million. The nine year-old Ginger Somolli gelding held off fast closing Pas Sans Toi by two lengths, as the winner drifted to the far outside during the stretch. Reactions of driver and trainer were mixed on tonight's effort and they plan for another race on April 19 from which to evaluate Rapide Lebel's fitness. Race summary and replay link follow. March 28, 2014 Hippodrome Wallonie Mons Ghlin, Prix Susan's Pride Kennel (www.eurotierce.be), International, £7,200, 2850 meters distance handicap, 14 starters, 1.14.4kr 1st Rapide Lebel (9g Ginger Somolli-Karanie des Noes-Dream With Me), Eric Raffin up for Sebastien Guarato trainer, Alexander Prevost owner, 2875 meters 2nd Pas Sans Toi (11m In Love With You-Fatre-And Arifant), Lieven de Groote up, 2875 meters 3rd Amigo Ten Doorn (10g Horse de Cotton-Pat Ten Doorn-Yankee Predator), Carlos De Soetz up, 2850 meters 4th Cuoou d'Isques (10g Vivier de Montfort-Elvira de Retz-Podosis), Hein Van Den Herde), 2875 meters 5th Rapide d'Epuisay (9m Ipsalon Janzeen-Diane des Blaves-Katius du Jure), Gerard Vergaerde up, 2875 meters On the same card, which was a mixed group of trots and gallop events, the Anders Lindqvist trained and co-owned (with USA's Peter Gerry) Angel Dark won the Prix du President de l'Association Wallonie du Cheval Trotteur in 1.14.73kr over 1750 meters autostart. The four year-old son of Look de Star won for the second time in his career, competing in just four starts. Angel Dark scored from post 14 in a 15 horse field and rallied five-wide in the stretch, for driver Johanna Lindqvist, to record a convincing victory. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink.com          

Veteran gelded son of Ginger Somolli, Rapide Lebel, a winner of over £1.81 million, makes his official return Friday at Mons/Ghlin, Belgium in an arranged race over 2850 meters (distance handicap). The Prix Susans Pride Kennel drew 14 contestants including several high-earnings veterans such as Pas Sans Toi (£550,700) and Petit Javanais (£453,180). Regular pilot Eric Raffin will team Rapide Lebel for trainer Sebastian Guarato. Prix Susans Pride Kennel - purse £7.200 - meters 2850 distance handicap 1. Player Simoni (Thierry Devouassaoux), Denmark 2. Britt Ten Doorn (Dirk Rotty), Belgium 3. Rodeo de la Besvre (Rudy Lhomme) 4. SolstrÃ¥len (Nico Dhaenens), Denmark 5. Amigo Ten Doorn (Carlos de Soete), Belgium Quoro d'Isques (Hein van der Hende), 2875 meters as will rest of field Agneska (G. Simon) Quandar (Luc Roelens)Rapide d'Epuisay (Gerard Vergaerde) Orage Mauzun (Christophe de Groote) Prince du Lucas (Eddy van Hout) Petit Javanais (J. Van der Putte Jr Pas Sans Toi (L. De Groote) Rapide Lebel (Eric Raffin) Trainer Guarato reports that his pupil is back in good shape and this start will help develop his condition that may lead to an Elitloppet invitation. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink.com  

Veteran French gelding Rapide Lebel returned to action this morning with an impressive requalification effort at Grobois, the legendary training center on the Paris perimeter. With Eric Raffin driving for trainer Sebastian Guarato, Rapide Lebel breezed in 1.12.5kr and was labeled by Guarato as having passed this test. Next up for Rapide Lebel is a possible race at Wolvega in April. The French speedster had not faced competition since December 2012 at Vincennes when he was third in the Prix Paul Buquet. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink.com

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