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Today’s Gr. I UET Masters Series Grand Criterium de Vitesse at Cagnes-sur-Mer went to veteran Timoko (9m Imoko-Kiss Me Coulonces) with harness racing driver Bjorn Goop aboard for trainer/owner Richard Westerink. The purse was €200,000 with 45% to the winner of the 1609 meters autostart sprinter contest, the last major trotting race of the winter season in France. Timoko was away quickly from post seven in the 13 horse field, following scratch of Un Mec d’Heripre, as was first to lead Oasis Bi (8m Toss Out-Up Front JM) with Johnny Takter up for trainer Stefan Pettersson. Takter parked Timoko for about three-eighths mile before yielding to the winner. Goop then rated the pace craftily and kept Oasis Bui boxed in the pocket until into the stretch when Timoko pulled away for two lengths plus victory. Off as 4/5 favorite, Timoko and 6.8/1 second finishing Oasis Bi bested 159/1 Luckycharm Hanover (8m Andover Hall-Lady Luck Hanover) that closed strongly along the pegs for Yannick Alain Briand. Spain’s Trebol (9m Hot Blues-Sally Can Wait-Prince Mystic) rallied from far back to nab fourth at 13/1 for trainer/driver Gabriel-Angel Pou Pou. The 162/1 outsider Vicomte Boufarcaux was fifth. Kadett CD and Going For Gold Zaz were disqualified for breaks and Anna Mix was unplaced at 14/1 while 4/1 Voltigeur de Myrt finished seventh behind longshot Air Frame at 143/1. Time for the winner was 1.10.2kr (race record 1.09.6kr in 2002 by Varenne). Timoko also won this classic event in 2015 and 2013. His now three wins compares well with legendary Une de Mai, a five time winner from 1969-84, and Ourasi that won four times from 1986-89. Thomas H. Hicks

Next Sunday’s (March 13) Grand Criterium de Vitesse de la Cote d’Azur initially has engaged 24 international upper-level harness racing trotters in the annual Gr. I UET Masters Series sprinter classic over 1609 meters autostart. The purse is €200,000 at Cagnes-sur-Mer.  Usually this event gives hope to those that were beaten in the Triple Crown series and those not entered in all of those contests. Richard Westerink’s Timoko, the 2013 and 2015 winner, is in the field along with the 2014 winner Univers de Pan for Philippe Daugeard. Italy’s Mack Grace SM, on a comeback trail at age ten, and sprinter Un Mec d’Heripre are in this group along with Anna Mix, Oasis Bi, Pascia’Lest and Voltigeur de Myrt that might show up on their best day. The race record of 1.09.6kr (mile race 1:51.98) was set in 2002 by legendary Varenne. The winners of this race include many legendary trotting performers (below) with multiple winners being Une de Mai (five times consecutively), Ourasi (four wins a row), and two each by Roquepine, Bellino II, Eleazar, Kaseco Phedo (the second fastest timed winner at 1.09.9kr in 2004), Meaulnes du Corta and Timoko. Année Vainqueur S/A* Pays Temps Père Driver Deuxième Troisième 2015 Timoko M.8  France 1'11"3 Imoko Björn Goop Maven Vanika du Ruel 2014 Univers de Pan M.6  France 1'10" Kenya du Pont Philippe Daugeard Pascia' Lest Vanika du Ruel 2013 Timoko M.6  France 1'10"2 Imoko Jos Verbeeck The Best Madrik Rêve de Beylev 2012 Santa Rosa France F.6  France 1'10" Kaisy Dream William Bigeon Quaker Jet Rêve de Beylev 2011 Quaker Jet M.7  France 1'10"8 Love You Jean-Étienne Dubois Priscilla Blue Brioni 2010 Meaulnes du Corta M.10  France 1'11" Voici du Niel Pierre Levesque Brioni Priscillia Blue 2009 Meaulnes du Corta M.9  France 1'11"2 Voici du Niel Pierre Levesque Igor Font Offshore Dream 2008 Opal Viking M.8  Suède 1'11'1 Turnpike Taylor Jorma Kontio Nijinski Blue Opus Viervil 2007 Kesaco Phedo M.9  France 1'10"7 Caballio in Blue Jean-Michel Bazire Smashing Victory Frisky Bieffe 2006 Kazire de Guez M.8  France 1'11"3 Udo de Touraine Jean-Michel Bazire Kool du Caux Lets Go 2005 Vasterbo Daylight F.8  Suède 1'10"5 Spotlite Lobell Ake Svanstedt Ilster d'Espiens Likable River 2004 Kesaco Phedo M.6  France 1'09"9 Caballio in Blue Jean-Michel Bazire Alesi OM Revenue 2003 Gigant Neo M.5  Suède 1'13"2 Super Arnie Jean-Michel Bazire Flambeau des Pins Ilster d'Espiens 2002 Varenne M.7  Italie 1'09"6 Waikiki Beach Giampaolo Minnucci Fan Idole Flambeau des Pins 2001 Gobernador M.7  France 1'11" Buvetier d'Aunou Dominick Locqueneux Gébrazac Not a Spacecase 2000 Moni Maker F.7  États-Unis 1'10"5 Speedy Crown Jimmy Takter Remington Crown The Bad Boy 1999 Remington Crown M.6  Suède 1'12"2 Lord of All Jos Verbeeck Mr Quickstep Érestan des Rondes 1998 Écho M.6  France 1'11"1 Qlorest du Vivier Jean-Étienne Dubois General November Moni Maker 1997 Gum Ball M.6  États-Unis 1'11"5 Speedy Crown Stig-H. Johansson Triple T. Storm Activity 1996 Crowning Classic M.5  États-Unis 1'12"7 Crowning Point M. Baroncini Houston Laukko Toss Out 1995 Houston Laukko M.7  Finlande 1'11"5 Choctaw Brave Jorma Kontio Coktail Jet Ina Scot 1994 Giant Force M.5  États-Unis 1'13"3 Meadow Road Olle Goop Queen L Volcan des Rotours 1993 Sea Cove M.7  Canada 1'12"8 Bonefish Jos Verbeeck To the Gate Lucky Tilly 1992 Peace Corps F.6  États-Unis 1'13"8 Baltic Speed T. Jansson Ziggy Hanover Vittorio 1991 Mr. Lucken M.7  Suède 1'12"4 Able Mission T. Jansson Peace Corps Sorrento 1990 Express Ride M.7  États-Unis 1'12"5 Super Bowl H. Korpi Friendly Face Sabre d'Avril 1989 Ourasi M.9  France 1'14"5 Greyhound Michel-Marcel Gougeon Quinio des Bordes Friendly Face 1988 Ourasi M.8  France 1'12"7 Greyhound Jean-René Gougeon Potin d'Amour Grades Singing 1987 Ourasi M.7  France 1'14" Greyhound Jean-René Gougeon Grades Singing Mon Tourbillon 1986 Ourasi M.6  France 1'15"1 Greyhound Jean-René Gougeon Mon Tourbillon Micron Hanover 1985 Mon Tourbillon M.7  France 1'15" Amyot Jean-Pierre Viel Lutin d'Isigny Minou du Donjon 1984 Lurabo M.7  France 1'14"5 Ura Michel-Marcel Gougeon Lutin d'Isigny Mon Tourbillon 1983 Spice Island M.5  États-Unis 1'14"5 Lindy's Pride Kurt Hormann Ianthin Lutin d'Isigny 1982 Hymour M.9  France 1'15"9 Nonant le Pin Jean-Pierre Dubois Super Male Idéal du Gazeau 1981 Idéal du Gazeau M.7  France 1'14"6 Alexis III Eugène Lefèvre Iris de Vandel Ianthin 1980 Hadol du Vivier M.6  France 1'14"1 Mitsouko Jean-René Gougeon Idéal du Gazeau Gadamès 1979 High Echelon M.5  France 1'15"9 Patara Jean-Pierre Dubois Éléazar Hadol du Vivier 1978 Éléazar M.8  France 1'15"4 Kerjacques Léopold Verroken The Last Hurrah Hurgo 1977 Éléazar M.7  France 1'15" Kerjacques Léopold Verroken Delfo Dauga 1976 Bellino II M.9  France 1'15"3 Boum III Jean-René Gougeon Dimitria Clissa 1975 Bellino II M.9  France 1'15"4 Boum III Jean-René Gougeon Dimitria Axius 1974 Amyot M.8  France 1'16"7 Garde Moi Michel-Marcel Gougeon Buffet II Casdar 1973 Une de Mai F.9  France 1'15"8 Kerjacques Jean-René Gougeon Buffet II Dart Hanover 1972 Une de Mai F.9  France 1'15"8 Kerjacques Jean-René Gougeon Dart Hanover Keystone Spartan 1971 Une de Mai F.7  France 1'17"3 Kerjacques Jean-René Gougeon Vanina B Verdict 1970 Une de Mai F.6  France 1'16"4 Kerjacques Jean-René Gougeon Tony M Tivaty Pélo 1969 Une de Mai F.5  France 1'16"8 Kerjacques Jean-René Gougeon Eilen Eden Tidalium Pelo 1968 Roquépine F.7  France 1'15"3 Atus II Henri Levesque Eilen Eden Seigneur 1967 Roquépine F.6  France 1'16"5 Atus II Henri Levesque Petit Amoy F Quarina 1966 Quioco M.6  France 1'16"3 Vermont Michel-Marcel Gougeon Petit Amoy F Raskolnikov Z 1965 Ozo F.7  France 1'16"7 Vermont Roger Massue Fury Hanover Behave 1964 Nike Hanover M.7  Italie 1'19"2 Star's Pride Lumberto Bergami Hurst Hanover Fury Hanover Thomas H. Hicks  

14.6/1 Sud (10g Kerido du Donjon-Ima du Houx-Vikings Way) was the upset winner of today’s Quinte+ Gr. III Prix Jules Roucayol (purse €80,000, 2925 meters, 15 European starters) driven by Xavier Fontaine. 117.6/1 Starter du Rib (10g Ganymede-Jiviga) was second for trainer/driver J-Ch Feron and owner Ecurie Rib, with 7.9/1 Oropuro Bar (8m Love You-Ubatuba Oaks) home third. 14.6/1 Sire de la Creuse was fourth with well-regarded 5.3/1 Going For Gold ZAZ (8m Scarlet Knight-Spritte ZAZ) fifth for Dominik Locqueneux. Time for the winner, now with career earnings of €669,820, was 1.14.2kr and the longshots generated a sizeable exact finish Q+ payoff. Also at Cagnes-sur-mer the Prix de Pezenas (purse €17,000, 2925 meters, 13 starters) went to 7/10 favorite Defi The Best (3m Timoko-Pampa) for trainer/driver Yannick Alain Briand and Ecurie des Charmes. 4.6/1 Destin de Bry (3m Coktail Jet-Ovadara) was second for driver/trainer Romain Derieux and owner Antonio De Sousa. Time was 1.20.3kr for the lightly raced youngster. On the rain-soaked CSM course 3/5 favorite Bering (5g Sam Bourbon-Nigella-Cedre du Vivier) scored in 1.18.9kr in the Prix de Seville (purse €28,000, 2925 meters, 18 starters) for driver Christophe Martens, trainer Vincent Martens and Stall Verrazzano AB. 78.8/1 Bijoa des Loups (5g Nahar de Beval-Jodie du Bois) was second for trainer/driver M-J Ruault. 6.8/1 Beaux Arts (5g Coktail Jet-Royale Surprise) ended third for Romain Derieux and owner De Sousa. At CSM the 1.8/1 odds As Dore (6m Coktail Jet-Dragiree D’Or) won timed in 1.15.1kr in the Prix d’Olargues (purse €32,000, 2925 meters, 18 starters) with Dominik Locqueneux aboard for trainer Robert Bergh. 7/1 Togo de Bassiere (9g Orsy Dream-Gerasa) ended second for trainer/driver Nicolas Ensch. At Toulouse Le Cepiere another Timoko foal, Douloureuse (3f Timoko-Migraine), scored in the €21,000 purse Prix d’Astaffort over 2100 meters. Timed in 1.20.7kr the winner bested seven rivals including second finishing Demolition Blue (3f Maestro de Neuvy-Narkese Blue). Racing at Wolvega this evening produced several interesting winners. The €6,600 purse Finale Regio Challenge over 2100 meters autostart went to the 1.16.8kr winner Darwin Boko (6g From Above-True Colors) with John De Leeuw up for trainer Peter J. Strooper. Frankie Lobell (4g Dream Vacation-Lightning Prayer) took the €6,600 Prix Wilma Vab der Zwann over 2100 meters autostart. Hugo Langeweg Jr. drove this one to the 1.16.1kr victory. First Dream (4m Lindy Lane-Hungadream) also scored at Wolwega timed in 1.1.9kr for Dion P. Tesselaar in an event worth €5,500 over the 2100 meter autostart course. The day’s featured Prix Gouden Paard (purse €9,900, 2600 meters, eight starters) went to the 1.16.3kr timed, 4.3/1 odds Secret Boy (8g Allison Hollow-Sugarcanes Riviera) for Dion Tesselaar. Favorite Banker Transs R was second with Crizzly Bear third for Jos. Verbeeck. Thomas H. Hicks  

January 3, 2015 - The barefoot Timoko (9m Imoko-Kiss Me Coulonces) rallied to score impressively in the Gr. II International Prix de Bourgogne (purse €120,000, 2100 meters autostart, 14 entrants with 13 at the start after Texas Charm was scratched) for harness racing driver Bjorn Goop and trainer/owner Richard Westerink. Timed in 1.11.7kr over the rain soaked Paris-Vincennes cinders Timoko was off the 1.3/1 favorite. 11.3/1 Amiral Sacha (6m Ganymede-Nostalgique Sacha) was a good second for Gabriel Gelormini, Ecurie Sidere and trainer Florent Lamare. Moses Rob was third but disqualified for being rough-gaited and that placed 18.4/1 Univers de Pan (8m Kenya du Pont-Gypsilore) third for trainer/driver Philippe Daugeard. Placed fourth was the 2015 Prix d’Amerique winner Up And Quick (8m Buvetier d’Aunou-Fichtre) driven by J-M Bazire with fifth placed to Un Mec d’Heripre (8m Orlando Vici-I Love You Darling) for Roberto Andreghetti. Uhlan de Val was placed sixth. The race was the day’s Quinte+ with a jackpot of €5.25 million and the win/place handle alone exceeded €1.1 million. Stretch replay: The gala event this Sunday showed that Timoko has the Prix d’Amerique in sight. From the start, Mosaique Face (1 - Lutfi Kolgjini) moved ahead and then Timoko (3 - Björn Goop) took the lead into the wind. Then, Up And Quick (2 - Jean-Michel Bazire) provided a big effort to reach the front until the final phase when detached from his rivals for an open-lengths victory. Timoko’s trainer Richard Westerink was quoted after the race: "My pupil was really good at work. Björn Goop has chosen to shift the soon enough. He knew what he was doing. It always surprises me. He knows some inexplicable success. The Prix d'Amérique looks good. We will try to do better than third. He is ready. " Thomas H. Hicks  

December 18, 2015 - Trinity Jiel (8f Goetmals Wood-Flaya de Jiel) took today’s Quinte+ Prix de Tourcoing (purse €70,000, 2850 meters, 18 starters) at Paris-Vincennes timed in 1.13.7kr for teamster Franck Nivard, trainer J.L Dersoir and Ecurie Luck. This 5.3/1 odds winner bested 16.9/1 Spirou d’hautefois (9g Jolmeto-Carmen d’hautefois) and Damien Bonne with 25.7/1 outsider Utelo de Carentone (7g Kiwi-Mauva d’harcouel) third. The Q+ jackpot was €4.45 million. Prix du Neubourg (purse €80,000, monte, 2700 meters, 11 starters) went to the 1.14.3kr winner, 4.7/1 odds Arthur d’Atom (5g Sancho Panca-Manouchka-Buvetier d’Aunou) with P-Y Verva up. 2.6/1 Alexia (5f Prodigious-Ilexia) landed second for Eric Raffin, trainer Philippe Moulin and Ecurie Victoria Dreams. 56/1 Aurea Vikland (5f Prince de Montfort-Kettina de Monti) was third for Damien Bonne. The Prix d’Eurecy (purse €55,000, 2700 meters, 18 European starters) became a quick 1.12.7kr win for A Nice Boy (5g Niky-Pretty Perle) at 14.1/1 odds for driver David Thomain, trainer J-P Thomain and Ecurie du Haras d’Eroble. 57/1 Avenir de Blay (5m Hooper-Mirabelle de Blay-Valberg) landed third for Tony Le Beller with 41/1 Archibald (5g Meaulnes du Corta-Lahore-Capriccio) third for teamster Pierre Levesque. The Prix des Glaieuls (purse €34,000, 2700 meters, 14 two year-olds) went to the 2.9/1 odds, 1.17.3kr timed Dandy de Godrel (2m Timoko-Nigelle Witt) handled by trainer/driver Bjorn Goop for owner Richard Westerink. 4.9/1 Deal Parfait (2m Rieussec-Saga de Laudrea) was second for Franck Nivard, trainer Franck Leblanc and Ecurie Charmes. 31/1 Drole d’Espoir (2m Nem-Orphea de Nay) ended third for J-Ph Monclin driving for trainer/owner J-M Monclin. Last evening at Wolvega was the Grand Prix Jan Offenberg Finale (purse €12,500, 2600 meters autostart, eight starters) and the 1.15.3kr winner was 2.8/1 rallying Ru de l’Airou (10g Cygnus d'Odyssee-Cour d’Intheville) for owner/driver Sven Hoste, 3/5 favorite Roxana de Barbray (10f Speed Clayettois-Iriane de Enclos) just missed on the front for Lorenzo Donati (trainee Roberto Donati for Ecurie Donati) with third to 12.8/1 Varina (6f Norginio-Jalencia) driven by Nico d’Haenen. Thomas H. Hicks    

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