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It has been reported by Karsten Bønsdorf, USTA Senior Newsroom Correspondent that affter the defeat Sunday afternoon in the Prix de France, where Face Time Bourbon finished second, his regular driver, Björn Goop, was sacked by the main owner, Italian Antonio Somma. Somma has long been unsatisfied with Goop as the driver of maybe the world’s best trotter at present, and just after the race, Somma wrote on Twitter that Goop was sacked. Today Somma was interviewed on the French racing television channel Equidia and said that Sebastian Guarato, who trains Face Time Bourbon, was free to pick any of these five drivers in the future to drive the top trotter: Eric Raffin, Gabriele Gelormini, Yoann Lebourgeois, Matthieu Abrivard and Franck Nivard. Sebastian Guarato had already made his choice and made it public, that Eric Raffin is the new driver of Face Time Bourbon. “Raffin is an obvious choice,” Guarato said. “He has driven Face Time Bourbon twice in races and has won both times.” Eric Raffin will drive Face Time Bourbon on March 6 in the Prix de Selection at Vincennes. Björn Goop has driven Face Time Bourbon in 29 races and has 24 wins and four seconds. On Jan. 31, Face Time Bourbon (with Goop) was an easy winner of the famous Prix d’Amerique for the second year in a row. From the USTA

December 13, 2020 - Face Time Bourbon (5m Ready Cash-Vita Bourbon) overcame an early miscue as he jetted from an outsie starting position, to win the harness racing Gr. II Prix du Bourbonnais (Prix d’Amerique qualifier 2, purse 95,000€, 16 International starters) at Vincennes. Bjorn Goop engineered the victory as he gathered FTB and proceeded a slow grind to the front on pedestrian fractions (1.17.1kr at 1500 meters remaining; 1.15.9kr at the 1000 and 1.14.7kr with 500 to go; final time 1.13.8kr). Delia du Pommereux and Chica du Joudes were close to the leader and then in the final bend Valzer di Poggio and Victor Ferm, both Jean Michel Bazire trainees, made a charge. FTB held easily to score his 27th career victory now for 2,247,940 in life earnings. Sebastian Guarato trains the Scuderia Bivans Srl owned performer. Victor Ferm (6m Nad Al Sheba) held gamely for second with Alexandre Abrivard up and third went to Moni Viking (7m Maharajah) for Matthieu Abrivard. The top three earned an Amerique Prize invite along with Bretagne top three of Diable de Vauvert, Feliciano and Bahia Quesnot. For a video reply of the Bourbonnais click here. Face Time Bourbon Thomas H. Hicks

The 6.8/1 outsider Tony Gio (7m Varenne-Ilaria Jet) rallied to win today’s Gr. III Grand Prix de la Federation Regionale du Nord (purse 90,000€, 2700 meters autostart, eight starters) held at La Croise Laroche in France. He was clocked in 1.10.8kr. Eric Raffin teamed the Sebastien Guarato trainee for Scuderia Bivans Srl to his seventh career victory in 51 starts now for life earnings of 867,815€. The winner exploded past early pocket sitter, 1.6/1 Bold Eagle (8m Ready Cash-Reethi Rah Jet) reined by Bjorn Goop for trainer Guarato and owner Pierre Pilarski, that had followed 47/1 leader Express Jet (5m Goetmals Wood-Run For Jet) until top of the stretch. Bold Eagle was second beaten two lengths. The 8/10 favorite Looking Superb (6m Orlando Vici-Classical Pine) with J-M Bazire aboard was away last before making a halfway point move to the death seat alongside Express Jet. But his effort was futile and he finished a tired fourth with Express Jet fifth for Pierre Vercruysse. Bazire’s stablemate, 18/1 Bel Avis (8g Ganymede-Gloria Maris) rallied late to be third for Alexandre Abrivard. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink

Bold Eagle (7m Ready Cash-Reethi Rah Jet) worked his way to the front near the quarter mile station after away fourth, and proceeded on before sprinting away from his opposition in late stretch for a three length score over the sloppy racetrack, following pre-program rains, in the Gr. I International Grand Criterium de Vitesse Nice-Matin at Cagnes sur Mer (purse €200,000, 1609 meters autostart, 13 starters). Race time was a new record 1.08.9kr (1:50.88 mile rate) easily lowering the mark set last year by Timoko of 1.09.5, and previously Varenne in 2002. The 2/5 favorite is owned by Pierre Pilarski and is trained by Sebastian Guarato, Jean-Etienne Dubois bred the champion now with 38 wins in 50 starts for €4,041,620 earned. 12/1 Billie de Montfort (7f Jasmin de Flore), with Nicolas Ensch up for trainer Guarato and owner Philippe Dauphin, sat the pocket and leading early and finished there timed in 1.09.2. Third was 168/1 Dijon (5m Ganymede-Sonote d’Aunou) for trainer/driver Romain Derieux and owner Mauricette DeSousa, timed in 1.09.4kr. 4.4/1 Bird Parker (7m Ready Cash) was fourth for J.Ph. Monclin clocked in 1.09.5 and placed fifth was 26/1 Anna Mix (7f Ludo de Castelle) driven by Bjorn Goop and clocked in 1.09.8kr after being parked first up.. Une Serenade was fifth to the line and a dq for interference. Prix de Paris winner Bird Parker, a slow starter today, tried to contest leading Bold Eagle near the three quarter mark with a three wide move but was no match and flattened late.  The race card before the exhilarating sprinter classic included a Republican Guard performance and wins by Duke de Carless (Nicolas Montagne up), Cirrus Atout (Gabriele Gelormini driving), American Jet (Romain Derieux the trainer/driver), and Baronne de Bapre (Stephane Cingland), all in upper level contests, the fastest clocked in 1.14kr over the off track early in the day. But, in race six for amateurs in the Prix du Club de l’Eco Nice Matin, a 14 horse field racing 1609 meters autostart for €10,000, posted a 1:55.83 winning time by 3/1 Best Jenilou (7g Goetmals Wood-Pirogue Jenikou) reined by Mlle Morgane Le Vexier for trainer David Bekaert and owner Mauricette De Sousa. This team defeated Artiste and Auchille d’Udon. Franck Nivard - Bold Eagle - Grand Critérium de Vitesse Nice-Matin -Cagnes-sur-Mer Thomas H. Hicks  

January 14, 2017 - The Gr. II Prix Maurice de Gheest (purse €120,000, 2700 meters, eight starters) was expected to be an easy conquest for 1.1/1 Equinoxe (3m Texas Charm-Pelagie) and 2.2/1 Everest Vedaquais (3m Ready Cash-Spandelle) but both were disqualified, the latter for an early miscue and the former after an impressive victory, presumably for being rough gaited in the lane. Victory was thus awarded to fast-closing 6.9/1 Eridan (3m Ready Cash-Topaze d’Atout) with David Thomain in the irons for harness racing trainer Sebastian Guarato and owner Philippe DeWulf, timed in 1.16kr. Placed second was 30/1 Easy des Racques (3m Rodrigo Jet-Ombre des Racques) reined by J.Ph Monclin and placed third was 5/1 Euro du Chene with Franck Nivard up. The Quinte+ Gr. II Prix de Croix was the day’s co-feature (purse €120,000, 2850 meters). Well respected Treasure Kronos, racing with shoes, and Cobra Bleu was miscue dq’s. 9.3/1 odds barefoot In Vain Sund (5m Revenue-Staro Yasmine) was an impressive rallying winner for Franck Nivard. This pair followed good outer tier flow and surged three wide in the late final bend to just get up for the 1.12.5kr clocked victory, with a quick final fraction (the timed was 1.13.1kr with 500 meters remaining). Daniel Reden trains the winner for Stall Zet. 3.6/1 Carat Williams (5m Prodigious-Miss Williams) took second, beaten a nose, for Gabriel Gelormini and trainer Guarato. Third was the 9/10 favorite pacesetting Traders (5m Ready Cash-Graziella) for David Thomain and owner/trainer Philippe Allaire. 84/1 Tango Negro (5m Infinitif-Lisetta Real) rallied from far back to be fourth for Bjorn Goop, trainer Jerry Riordan and owner Graziano Ceccaroni, with fifth to Tony Gio (5m Varenne-Ilaria Jet) reined by Christophe Martens for Scuderia Bivans SRL and trainer Vincent Martens. The Gr. III Prix du Forez/Prix les Seniors (purse €105,000, 2700 meters, 11 starters) went to 1.12.8kr timed and 5.1/1 odds Anzi des Liards (7g Look de Star-Nausicaa du Sud) with Romain Derieux at the lines for breeder/owner Richard Padovani and trainer David Bekaert. 7/1 Athos des Elfes (7m Ganymede-Lazio du Bourg) was second for trainer Joel Van Eeckhaute and reinsman Franck Nivard. Third was rail hugging 4.2/1 Altesse de Mirel (7f Ready Cash-Ina de Mirel) for trainer/driver Pierre Vercruysse and owner Florence Allera. The winner closed stoutly as the time with 500 meters remaining was 1.13.8kr. A superb Saturday afternoon Paris-Vincennes program began with newly aged three year-olds contesting the Prix de Montreuil (monte, purse €36,000, 2700 meters, 11 starters), with an open-lengths victory earned by 1.3/1 favorite Eiffel Tower (3f Ready Cash-Nouvelle d’Atout). The Alexandre Abrivard teamed filly was clocked in 1.18.2kr and is trained by J-M Bazire for breeder/owner Mme. Ottavia Roffi-Urano. 22.4/1 Etincelle de Rocha (3f Repeat d’Ombree-Rondinara) was the distant second for Matthieu Abrivard and 13.5/1 Extase de la Basle (3f Redea Josselyn-Ibiza de la Masle) was third with Eric Raffin in the irons. Monte performers continued with the Prix de Mauquenchy (purse €90,000, 2175 meters, 10 European starters) and 9/10 favorite Catalogne (5f Cygnus d’Odyssee-Jabadie) prevailed for Mathieu Mottier, trainer Denise Mottier and Ecurie Cheffreville). 7.2/1 Codie de Beaulieu (5f Oyonnax-Melody d’Arcy) closed well for second, handled by J-Y Ricart. Third went to the 6.9/1 and Matthieu Abrivard teamed Chiuricahua (5f Pomerol de Laumac-Phoenix Arizona). Thomas H. Hicks

Today’s Gr. II Prix Octave Douesnel (purse €120,000, 2700 meters, 11 starters) went to 1.3/1 Carat Williams (4m Prodigious-Miss Williams) with David Thomain up for harness racing trainer Sebastian Guarato and owner Mme. Francoise Deboudaud, clocked in 1.13.1kr with a rallying finish (fractions 1.17.3kr with 1500 to go; 1.14.9kr at the 1000, 1.13.9kr with 500 remaining). The winner raced in the death seat and wore down 1.4/1 Charly du Noyer (4m Ready Cash-Ornella Jet) in the drive. The latter was reined by Yoann Lebourgeois for trainer Philippe Allaire and owner Olivier Henri Thomas. Third was 42/1 Clif du Pommereux (4m Love You-Noune du Pommereux) took third for trainer/driver Sylvain Roger. Cad Griff and Cupidon du Vivier were fourth and fifth. The Gr. I Criterium des 3 Ans (purse €240,000, 2700 meters, 15 starters) went to 26.3/1 Diego du Guelier (3m Kepler-Ophelie la Garenne) with Mathieu Mottier up for owner/trainer Denise Mottier. He was timed in 1.14.1kr (fractions 1.13.6kr at 1500 to go; 1.15.1kr at 1000; 1.15.1kr with 500 remaining) in a gritty performance defeating 7/10 favorite Django Riff (3m Ready Cash-Rasta Perrine) that Philippe Allaire trains for breeder/owner Elisabeth Allaire. Third was 31/1 Allaire trainee Dawana (3f Ready Cash-Sanawa) that he owns and that Gabriel Gelormini teamed. Draft Life and Dijon were fourth and fifth for Eric Raffin and Romain Derieux, their drivers Thomas H. Hicks  

Two year-olds harness racing colts contested the Gr. II Prix Ourasi (purse €80,000, 2200 meters, 10 starters) Friday evening with 6.2/1 Eridan (2m Ready Cash-Topaze d’Atout-Coktail Jet) posting an impressive 1.15.7kr timed victory. David Thomain teamed the Sebastian Guarato trainee that is owned by Ph. Dewulf. The winner’s dam was a career winner of €179.541 with a 1.12.7kr record. The 4/5 favorite Everest Vedaquais was a dq. Finishing second was 17/1 Everest de Ginai (2m Love You-Nymphe de Ginai) handled by Gabriel Gelormini for trainer Philippe Allaire and Finland owner Reima Kuisla OY. Third was Eros du Chene (2m Un Amour d’Haufor-Oulanova) for Franck Nivard. The evening’s Quinte+ Prix Hilda (purse €46,000, 2850 meters, 16 starters) went to 1.15.7kr timed and 4.8/1 odds Aurore de Chloee (6f Islero de Bellouet-Loisiane de Nacre). Anthony Barrier piloted this winner for trainer Emmanuel Varin inn defeat of 85/1 Ariane du Nil (6f Ni Ho Ped d’Ombree-Melby du Lin) with Maxime Bezier the trainer/driver. 4.9/1 Azela des Plaignes (6f Lilium Madrik-Ibiza des Plaignes) was third in a photo for trainer/driver Denis Brossard, also trainer. Secret Boy (8g Allison Hollow-Sugarcanes Riviera) took tonight’s Winter Cup at Wolvega (purse €6,960, 2100 meters autostart, 8 starters) timed in 1.15kr at 5/1 for Dion P. Tesselaar.  The 9/10 favorite Olympic Kronos (8g Viking Kronos-Ebony Kronos) was second for Joseph Verbeeck and trainer Lutfi Kolgjini. Third was 29/1 Radamante (6g Ganymede-Tenderembrace) Thomas H. Hicks  

Bolero Love (5m Love You-Orelady) was the 3.7/1 upset harness racing winner of the Gr. I Prix de L’Etoile at Vincennes (€240,000 purse, 2200 meters, 10 starters) clocked in 1.10.4kr for teamster Gabriel Gelormini. Racing barefoot this Sebastian Guarato trainee (bred by Ecurie D) defeated 7/10 favorite Django Riff (3m Ready Cash-Rasta Perrine) and Yoann Lebourgeois. This Philippe Allaire trainee was bred and is owned by Elisabeth Allaire. 6.1/1 Dollar Macker (3m Saxo de Vandel-Salt Lake City), another Allaire trainee, was third for J-Ph Monclin and owner Olivier Henri Thomas. Prix de l'Etoile G1 BOLERO LOVE The excellent Vincennes card also included the €50,000 Prix d’Avallon (2100 meters autostart, 12 European starters) went to 1.11.5kr timed and 11.7/1 odds Seattle Bi (5f Equinox Bi-Las Vegas Bi). Roberto Andreghetti teamed the Alessandro Gocciadoro trainee owned by Scuderia Dielle. 22/1 Blue Sky (5f Opium-Loumana Flor) took second for Pierre Levesque (trainer Thomas Levesque) and third was 123/1 Baileyse (5f Opus Viervil-Lance de Fourches) with Alexis Garandeau up for breeder/trainer Christian Douillet. Thomas H. Hicks

The August 11 monte headliner at Enghien was the Gr. II Prix de Landres (purse €120,000, 2875 meters, 16 starters). The 1.14kr impressive harness racing winner was 18.4/1 odds Astor du Quenne (6m Opus Viervil-Qualinka du Quenne) with Alexandre Abrivard in the irons. Sebastian Guarato trains this Ecurie Haras de la Coquenne property. 4.4/1 Amour Fou (6g Meaulnes du Corta-Nice Star) was a distant second for Franck Nivard, trainer Thierry Raffegeau and owner J-Y Roze. 60/1 Valse de Reve (7f Mister President-Nouba Houba) lasted for third handled by Camille Levesque for owner/trainer Allain Roussel. The Enghien feature was the Quinte+ Prix de la Concorde (purse €70,000, 2875 meters, 17 starters). Even-money favorite Utinka Selloise (8f Qjipsey Vinoir-Mercedes Tebe) scored in with veteran reinsman J-M Bazire driving the J-M Baudouin trainee. 8.3/1 Ursule du Bouffey (8f Indy de Vive-Illusion du Coq) was next for P-Y Verva with third to 7.3/1 Vikishima (7f Magnificent Rodney-Fleur du Perche) driven by A.A. Chavatte. Bazire also won the Q+ on August 10 with Aubrion de Gers in the Grand National du Trot Paris-Turf. Enghien’s Prix de Nouzonville (purse €60,000, 2875 meters, 15 entrants) this day went to 2.6/1 favorite Chicago Blues (4m Prodigious-Orleans) timed in 1.14.9kr. Cl. Duvaldestin teamed the Thierry Duvaldestin trainee that Ecurie Bresil owns. 9.4/1 Bellino d’Auvrecy (5m Ganymede-Lady d’Auvrecy) took second with Gabriel Gelormini up for the Sebastian Guarato/Ecurie Lucky Star team. 7.7/1 Class Petteviniere (4m Repeat Love-Noce Petteviniere) landed third driven by Dominik Locqueneux for trainer Ch. De Groote. Also on the Enghien program was the Prix de la Porte d’Italie (purse €70,000, 2875 meters, 16 entrants). 2.7/1 Barrio Josselyn (5m Scipion du Goutier-Pike Josselyn) scored in 1.15kr for J-M Bazire and owner Mme. O. Roffi-Urano. 60/1 Bon Copain (5m Love You-Haie) was next for Francois Lecanu, and the Raffegeau/Roze trainer and owner team. 1/1 Blues d’Ourville (5g Password-Pursuit of Charm) took third for Mathieu Mottier. The Quinte+ August 10 feature in France was the Gr. III Grand National du Trot Paris-Turf (purse €90,000, 2950 meters distance handicap, 18 starters) at Saint Malo. The 1.15kr timed winner was 3/5 favorite Aubrion du Gers (6g Memohis du Rib-J’Arrive du Gers) with Jean Michel Bazire up. He owns and trains this one. 23.2/1 Boeing du Bocage (5m Scipion du Goutier-Lora du Cap Vert) landed second for Loic Guinoiseau with the fine rally. 168/1 Vignia la Ravelle (7f Diamant Gede-Jirania Le Ravelle) took third for owner/trainer/driver E.G. Blot. At Avenches (Suisse) on August 10 the Coupe des 4 Ans (purse €13,850. 3000 meters autostart, seven starters) went to 1.23kr timed and 3.3/1 odds Fast And Furious (4m Main Wise As-You’ve Got Mail). Owner/trainer Andre Humbert was the teamster. 7.3/1 Global Spotify (4g Judge Joe-Claudia) took a close second over the off going with trainer Marcel Humbert up. The 1.3/1 favorite Chopin du Martza (4m Ganymede-Polka du Martza), trained by Renaud Pujols and driven by Fra Quatreuil was third. Thomas H. Hicks

Valko Jenilat (7m Kepler-Perle du Roc) took today’s Q+ Enghien featured Prix de Buenos-Aires (purse €120,000, 4150 meters, 15 International starters) clocked in 1.17.1kr, stepping home by three lengths for harness racing driver Eric Raffin. Off at 5.4/1 the winner is trained by Sebastian Guarato for Ecurie G&F Raffre. Second was 2/1 Tiego d’Etang (9m Chaillot-Harolene) was second in a close battle, for Charles J.Bigeon and trainer Christian Bigeon. 12.6/1 Alienor de Godrel (6f Orlando Vici-Julietta) was third for trainer/driver Franck Anne and Ecurie AB Trot. 9.4/1 Swedishman (10g Gogo-Valgana) was fourth for driver Franck Nivard, trainer Thierry Duvaldestin and owner Gaylor Chaudemanche. 20/1 Bahia Quesnot was fifth for reinsman Matthieu Abrivard. The Enghien Prix Montmartre (purse €55,000, 2150 meters autostart, 16 European entrants) went to 21.3/1 odds Pingus Vang (9g SJ’s Photo-New Wonder) for J-M Bazire and trainer Fabrice Souloy. 4.8/1 Super Ariel (7f Super Arnie-Orika Lep) was second for Matthieu Abrivard in a close finish with 6.1/1 Rooibus (7m Rotation-Miss Tessami) for Eric Raffin. Bjorn Goop trains Rooibus for B.S. Stable HB. The race was clocked in 1.13.5kr. 1.3/1 favorite Dawana (3f Ready Cash-Sanawa) easily took the Prix de Rome (purse €85,000, 2875 meters, 15 European starters) as the Philippe Allaire owned and trained lass was timed in 1.14.8kr. Gabriele Gelormini teamed the winner to her sixth win in ten career starts now for €263,050 and she’s emerging as a good one, as was her dam. 92/1 United Love (3m Conway Hall-Dolly Kronos) rallied to be second for Eric Raffin. 18/1 Dream Darling (3m Sam Bourbon-Let’s Go Darling) held third for driver/owner Jean-Pierre Dubois and trainer Yves Boireau. Francoise Laroche bred this one. Thomas H. Hicks  

Harness racing 3/10 favorite Bold Eagle (5m Ready Cash-Reethi Rah Jet) overcame a 25 meter handicap to easily win today’s Prix des Sables-d’Olonne clocked in 1.11.3kr (mile rate 1:54.72) over his 2800 meter journey (1.74 miles). Eric Raffin was again at the lines for trainer Sebastian Guarato, owner Pierre Pilarski and breeder Jean-Etienne Dubois. Bold Eagle scored his 25th win in 28 starts, now for career earnings of €1,948,300. 21.5/1 Akim du Cap Vert (6m First de Retz-Prima du Cap Vert) took second for owner/trainer/driver Franck Anne with 9.4/1 Baltic Charm (5m Passwrod-Ilikova) home third for Matthieu Abrivard and trainer Guarato, owner St. Szwarc and breeder Jean-Philippe Dubois. 9/1 Alderman and 41/1 Beau Gamin were next. Bold Eagle was away alertly in the bulky field and eventually secured a pocket position where he remained until the final turn. Then he rapidly accelerated to the front and drew off.     Thomas H. Hicks

June 6. 2015 - Today’s excellent Paris-Vincennes card showcased two Group events, the Quinte+ and other fast-class races. The harness racing card started off with the Gr. III Prix Istres (€68,000 purse, 2700 meters, 14 European three year-old fillies) and 7/2 Cavalleria (3f Prodigiois-Janga) took the win for Eric Raffin and trainer Sebastian Guarato. She was clocked in 1.16.1kr for an effective start to finish trip. 17/1 Tresor (3f Andover Hall-Rafale) was second for trainer/driver Santo Mollo and Italian owner Scuderia Dream Sas. 9/1 Cala Rossa (3f Lets Go Along-Lee Nova) was third for Julien Dubois aboard. Philippe Moulin trains this one for Ecurie Victoria Dreams. The Gr. II Prix Louis Jariel (€120,000 purse, 2175 meters, 11 starters) went to 3.4/1 Ave Avis (5m Kesaco Phedo-Magna Avis) for trainer/driver J-M Bazire. Mme. O. Roffi-Urano is the owner. He was clocked in 1.11.3kr off even fractions (1.10.4kr at 1500; 1.10.9kr at 1000; 1.11.6kr at 500). Altesse du Mirel (5f Ready Cash-Ina de Mirel) was a game second at 17/1 for trainer/driver Pierre Vercruysse and owner Mme. F. Allera. The 7/10 favored Aladin d’Ecajeul (5m Quaker Jet-Nancy d’Ecajeul) was third for reinsman Eric Raffin, trainer Sebastian Guarato and owner Ph. Dewulf. The Jean-Etienne Dubois owned and trained Africaine (5f Oiseau de Feux-Italienne) was fourth at 5.5/1 for Gabriel Gelormini. Today’s Gr. III Prix de Gien (€68,000 purse, 2700 meters, 14 European three year-olds) went to 2.1/1 favorite Cobra Bleu (3m Fortuna Fant-Nuit Irisee-Duc de Jiel) and trainer/driver Pierre Vercruysse, clocked in 1.14.6kr. G-E Morin is the breeder/owner of this five time winner of €114,340. Tesora Degli Dei (3m Igor Font-Isabella Dei-Pine Chip) was second for trainer/driver Pietro Gubellini at 28/1 for owner Scuderia Mary Forever and breeder Az. Agr. Degli Dei. 4/1 Cocktail Meslois (3m Roc Meslois-Ocarina Mesloise) ended third for trainer/driver Pierre Belloche and breeder/owner Ecurie Bois Doufray. Italy’s Perkins Grif (6m Classic Photo-Radiant Victory) took the Quinte+ (€2.2 million jackpot) Prix du Quercy (€85,000 purse, 2850 meters, 14 European starters) with Roberto Andreghetti aboard. Fabrice Souloy trains for owner Scuderia Future 2004 Srl. The 7/2 odds winner was clocked in 1.13.4kr. Second was 10/1 Sahara Fairytale (6f Viking Kronos-Sahara Shadow) from Sweden, trained and driven by Christophe Martens for owner Canberra HB. 10/1 Victoria du Jouan (6f Insert Gede-Jirondelle) was third for teamster William Bigeon and trainer J-L Bigeon. The Prix de Velleneuve-sur-lot (€48,000 purse, 2700 meters, 15 European starters) resulted in a 1.12.2kr victory for 1.3/1 favored Venosc de Minel (6g Laetenter Diem-Melia Monochrome) for J-M Bazire and owner/trainer Mme. S. Raimond. 34/1 Palomar LB (6m Varenne-Gilly LB) from Italy was second for trainer/driver Pietro Gubellini and owner Scuderia AeC  Borsami ahead of Perfect Power (6g Ken Warkentin-Enjoy My Face) from Sweden, handled by trainer Christophe Martens at 14/1. Sweden’s Tell Mr No Lies and Staro Foot Loose were fourth and fifth. Thomas H. Hicks

May 28, 2015 - Harness racing action aplenty this day in France. and Sweden as the Pick 5 Prix SES Racing Team (€28,000 purse, 2800 meters, 18 starters) went to 1.2/1 favorite A Nous Trois (5m Orlando Vici-Quallas) with Eric Raffin up. Sebastian Guarato trains this 1.14.8kr winner. 8/1 Always Perfect (5m Prodigious-Oh Butterfly) was second for owner/trainer/driver Julien Dubois ahead of 2.3/1 Atout du Lerre (5g Oakwood du Closet-Haquikmie) with driver/trainer Franck Anne piloting. At Nancy-Brabois FR the trotting contests were also interesting. Their Prix Ecole de Nancy (€30,000 purse, 3175 meters distance handicap, eight European contestants) went to 1.18.5kr clocked Kazire du Bob (7g Kazire de Guez-Blow Out Kemp) at 2.2/1 for teamster Franck Ouvrie. Bjorn Goop is his trainer for Stall Torpedo HB of Sweden. 2.3/1 Oronte di Cesato (7m Allison Hollow-Enzaran) reported home second for Christophe Martens, trainer Vincent Martens and owner Onsorio Perfetti of Italy. 13/1 Ungador (7g Gobernador-Oceanic Melody) was third. Also at Nancy-Brabois the Prix des Freres Muller (€25,000 purse, 2600 meters, nine European starters) went to 1.16.7kr winner Vasco d’Orsinval (6g Malicieux Gede-Nuit de Pontignies) at 6/1 for trainer/driver A. Garandeau. 5/1 Shark Attack (7g April Perfect-Step by Step) was next for Philippe Masschaele, trainer J-F Van Dooyeweerd of Holland with 1.3/1 favorite Unogaren (7g Land du Coglais-Neige de la Garen) third for Julien Raffestin, trainer Robert Bergh and owner Ecurie Etoile. At Bergsaker SWE a 2014 Elitloppet starter Shaq Is Back (8m Credit Winner-Vivica Hall-Victory Dream) and trainer/driver Daniel Reden won the Travakademiens Sponsorers Trot (30,000SEK first prize, 2140 meters autostart, 10 starters) clocked in 1.11.3kr for a comfortable win over Rocky Race (10m Super Arnie-Etoile Race-Lindy’s Crown) and Leif Witasp. Stall Zet owns the winner that was US bred by Steve Jones and Fair Winds Farm. This was win number 21 for Shaq in 71 starts good for 4,554,037SEK won. Another last year Elitloppet contestant Sanity (9g Love You-Flash Light-Mack Lobell) was third today for Ulf Eriksson. Sanity has 30 wins in 78 starts for earnings of 10,246,942SEK. It was reported that now retired superstar Maharajah will be presented to the audience on Sunday. He started in four Prix d’Amerique’s winning his last try. He never started in an Elitloppet. The Stefan Hultman trainee won the Olympic Trot, the Prix de Paris, the Swedish Derby, and European Derby and E3. Orjan Kihlstrom drove Maharajah in all but two of his 59 career starts that produced 31 victories for over 23SEK million earned. The “King” will be shown at Solvalla shortly after noon local time. Thomas H. Hicks

May 9, 2015 - Villeroi (6m Oiseau de Faux-Pocahontas) took today’s co-featured Prix du Gatinais (€85,000 purse, 14 European starters, 2700 meters) timed in 1.12.6kr for harness racing driver Eric Raffin and trainer Sebastian Guarato. Ecurie Pierre Pilarski owns the winner that scored at odds of 4.7/1. Tornado Bello (8m Jag de Bellouet-Enfilade), the half-brother to Offshore Dream, was a game pacesetting second for Thomas Levesque and trainer Mike Lenders as 2.3/1 favorite and third went to Triskell Pacha (8g Elio Josselyn-Derose de la Butte) and teamster Franck Nivard. Sometime pressed the lead during much of the contest but tired and went offstride late. Fractions were solid with a quick final 500 meters (1.13.1kr at 1500; 1.13.5kr at 1000; 1.13.2kr at 500 and 1.12.6kr finish). This race was today’s Quinte+ with a jackpot of €3.55 million. The Gr. III Prix Guillaume de Bellaigue (monte, €120,000 purse, 2700 meters, 7 International starters) went to rallying Nene’Degli Ulivi (8g Uconn Roc-Maureen Lobell) and Alexandre Abrivard for trainer Vincent Lacroix. Off at 7.7/1 the winner recorded career victory 17 in 40 outings, scoring in 1.14.4kr off slow fractions (1.13.5kr at 1500; 1.15kr at 1000; 1.15.7kr at 500, 1.14.4kr finish) set by second place 25/1 odds Vision Intense (6f Prodigious-Intense Action) ridden by Nathalie Henry for Ecurie Victoria Dreams and trainer Philippe Moulin. Rarely a pacesetter Vision Intense raced very well. Great mare Roxane Griff (10f Tenor de Baune-Julia Mesloise) rallied valiantly late to be a close third for Eric Raffin, trainer Guarato and Ecurie Griff. She was off at 4.7/1 and raced fifth on the pegs until late in the lane. The Prix du Perreux (European, €80,000 purse, 13 starters) for upper class campaigners went to Rember Mail (5m Toss Out-E Mail Spin) and reinsman Christophe Martens for trainer Victor Martens at 3.1/1 odds. He rushed to the front with 1000 meters to go and led to the line scoring in 1.14.8kr for owner Ecurie GIGA Srl of Italy. Perkins Grif (6m Classic Photo-Radiant Victory) was second at 7.5/1 after making a strong push of the last turn and sustaining that run throughout the stretch for Roberto Andreghetti. Fabrice Souloy trains this one for Scuderia Future 2004 Srl. Rooibus (6m Rotation-Miss Tessani) was third along the pegs for trainer/driver Bjorn Goop and owner BS Stables AB at 8.5/1.  Fractions were pedestrian that set up a quick and wild finish (1.14.7kr at 1500; 1.15.5kr at 1000; 1.16.2kr at 500; 1.14.8kr finish). Thomas H. Hicks

May 1, 2015 - The Gr. II Prix Kerjacques (€120,000,2700 meters, nine international starters) highlighted the Vincennes card this day for top class harness racing entrants. The 3/5 favorite Ustinof de Vivier (7g Look de Star-Melba du Vivier) won his fourth straight for trainer Sebastian Guarato and driver Mathieu Abrivard, scoring in 1.13.3kr off well rated fractions (1.14.6kr at 1500; 1.13.9kr at 1000; 1.14.6kr at 500) as the winner rallied in the lane for a three length victory despite drifting out and racing absent cover for much of the journey. Jean-Yves Lecuyer bred the great-gaited winner. Olmo Holz (7m Uronometro-Veuve du Kras) was second at 42/1 for Christophe Martens and 50/1 Uppercut de Manche (7g Neutron du Cebe-Nuit de Manche) reached the line third for Damien Bonne. Roxane Griff was fourth for Eric Raffin and Une Fille d’Amour finished fifth for David Thomain. Timoko reached the lead shortly after the start, yielded for a pocket ride and ended eighth, showing little. The undercard showcased the Prix Bettina (€48,000, 2100 meters autostart, international, 17 starters) at Vincennes for sprinters and trainer Fabrice Souloy conditioned the top two finishers. 14/1 Peace Of Mind (6f Uronometro-Erica d’Alfa) rallied to secure the win clocked in 1.12kr for Italy and reinsman Bjorn Goop. Souloy’s Tell Me No Lies (6g Offshore Dream-B Glorious) was a close second at 3.3/1 for driver Franck Nivard with 18/1 Vigna La Ravelle (6f Diamant Gede-Jirania La Ravelle) third for J-M Bazire beaten only a length. Thomas H. Hicks

April 26. 2015 - Aladin d’Ecajeul (5m Quaker Jet-Nona d’Ecajeul) took Sunday’s feature at Argentan with Eric Raffin up.  Sebastian Guarato trains the winner for owner Philippe Dewulf. The even-money favorite recorded career win 12 in 27 starts for earnings in excess of €857,000. The Criterium de Vitesse (€100,000, International with 13 starters, 1609 meters autostart) winner was clocked in a rapid 1:52.3 (1.09.8kr). Italy’s Pascia’Lest (6m Varenne-Superiors Sun) was second for Andrea Guzzinati at 11/1 with 10/1 Univers de Pan home third for Philippe Daugeard. Beckman finished fifth. The winner is a future European star for years ahead, in our opinion. Thomas H. Hicks

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