Day At The Track
Grosbois, harness racing

Grosbois is not your everyday training facility

Grosbois, France – Growing up in New Jersey in the USA and getting into the harness racing industry, I was around when they broke ground and built exquisite training facilities at Showplace and Gaitway Farms. But they are not that exquisite when compared to Grosbois, just outside of Paris, France. In fact, there may not be another harness racing training facility in world that could be compared to Grosbois. Upon entering the grounds, the entrance way features wrought-iron 20-foot gates attached to 12-foot walls that encompass the entire facility, which is just over 1,000 acres in size. In the far distance you can see a huge Manor House and green grass and dirt roads, also paths that lead to wooded areas with harness racing trotters galore jogging about. We were greeted at the horsemen’s entrance by Damien Beau, who is with the International Department of LeTROT, that oversees all of trotting in France. He was our guide for the private tour. We first went to the home of renowned Swedish and French trainer Anders Lindqvst, who was so kind to show us his home, his office, and his attached courtyard with maybe 40 stalls filled with trotters. There are no pacers in Europe except for Ireland and England. Linqvist first became interested in harness racing at the age of 14. “I wanted to be a professional soccer player,” Linqvist said. “But someone took me on a jog with a horse and I really liked that. My father wanted me in the family business,” Lindqvist added. “but after I worked with the horses a little, I trained a fast mile and that feeling convinced me to go into harness racing. “My first good horse I got I was age 22,” Lindqvist recalled. “And it was at that point that I said goodbye to working for my father part-time and took up harness racing full time. This horse, which gave me many wins, was at the time, sadly named Mr. Nixon. But despite his name he was my foundation horse. Mr. Nixon raced for me 431 times. That is the all-time record still in Sweden. “Then I was once racing in the Elitloppet in 1985,” Lindqvist said. “And after the race with Viroid (finished 5th) I was contacted by Mr. Lew Barash in the USA, asking me to come and race in the International Trot at Roosevelt Raceway and then I was hooked on international racing. “From there I was on my own for ten years,” Lindqvist explained. Until the great trainer/driver Jean-Pierre Dubois asked me to work for him in France. It was like being invited to be part of the Dream Team in basketball and I have been here ever since.” Lindqvist has driven in 19 countries, even twice in Russia. “When I won my first race in Russia,” Lindqvist said. “I got towards the winner’s enclosure, they stopped me and said they had to take my whip away. This was some security people and I did not understand why. Then I saw that the trophy was going to be presented to me by President Valdimir Putin and realized security would not let anyone get near him with a whip. That was something very special in my life.” Anders home has four bedrooms in addition to the attached 40 horse stalls and he said he pays around $8,000 per month rent for everything. That might seem a lot, but he also rents his spare bedrooms and most of his stalls to other trainers for their horses. He said it is like that throughout Grosbois, although some of the beautiful homes and barn areas are leased by horse owners, who turn around and rent or trade rooms/stalls for trainers and grooms to take care of their horses. Lindqvist also has a coffee vending machine in his office. Why one might ask and Anders jokingly said because during the winter season he has so many visitors he gives away around 4,000 cups of coffee. There are over five miles of just jogging tracks at Grosbois. It also has two tracks that horses can fast work on, a five-eighths mile track and a 15th/16th mile track, where horses can qualify to race at nearby Vincennes Racetrack. They also have an equine hospital on the grounds that is used by some 15 veterinarians. That many vets are needed for the 1,500 racehorses that call Grosbois home throughout the winter season. There are also numerous blacksmith shops on the grounds. At Grosbois, there are about 60 people that work in track maintenance to keep the large grounds clean and the track surfaces in prime shape. They use three different materials that are used on the jogging tracks and horseman use certain courses depending if they want a deep cushion, harder or softer surfaces for the horse’s hooves. You will also see many trotters being ridden at Grosbois as in France they have many trotting races under saddle. This past weekend the richest monte race (monte means under saddle) in the world took place at the Vincennes track with 15 horses racing for a purse of 650,000 euros. There is also a very nice horseman’s cafeteria and a party room on the grounds, tennis courts and soccer fields. The jogging trails also cut through the massive wooded area of Grosbois where people jogging horses have come across wild boar, reindeer, foxes and many birds of prey. The entire area was purchased and developed into the training facility in 1962 and continues to grow. It is 11 miles from the outskirts of Paris and only six miles away from the Vincennes Racetrack. And what if the weather is raining but you still need to work your horse. Then you just head over to the covered training track or perhaps lunge-line your horse at the indoor arena. It’s all at Grosbois. Coming up on Thursday, it’s back to Grosbois we go, this time to visit the special Manor House that is home to the French Trotting Museum and more. by Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink

Golden Renka,Harness racing

Golden Renka wins feature

Tuesday’s Paris-Vincennes featured Prix de Pont-Audemar (purse 53,000€, 2100 meters autostart) saw 1.2/1 Golden Renka (4m Saxo de Vandel-Saskia des Emois) rally to a harnes racing victory for pilot Jean Michel Bazire, Ecurie Ostheimer and trainer J-M Baudouin.   The winner was clocked in 1.12.6kr as he won for the fourth time in 16 career starts, now for 108,190€ earned. 4.9/1 Gwendolo Bella (4m Booster Winner) was second for owner/trainer/driver Christophe Feyte and 5.4/1 Genet de Boitron (4g Ubriaco) took third with owner/trainer Franck Anne aboard.   Racing action returned on the weekend (January 19) at Madinina Martinique with the Prix de la Societe des Courses de Madinina (purse 5,000€, 2600 meters on the turf, distance handicap) and victory went to Beautiful Atout (9g Roc Meslois-Saga d’Atour) with owner/trainer Alexandre Faivre aboard. The winner recorded his first win in Martinique and first career victory now for 62,280€ earned. Bavarois Varlet and Boycott trained the winner, these two handicapped 50 and 25 meters.   Beautiful Atout On the Madinina card was also the Prix Claude Cayol (purse 5,000€, 2600 meters distance handicap on the turf) saw 25 meter handicapped Ussein Royal (12g Lilium Madrik-Heloire) score in 1.20.3kr for J.F. Gate, his third win in the last four starts and 13 th in his career, now for 83,160€ in life earnings. 25 meter penalized Unoki and non-penalized Avais Contraire trailed the winner to the line in a driving finish.   Thomas H. Hicks

Harness racing

Paris preparing for the Prix d’Amerique

Paris, France – Not a lot of people can really say in Paris that they know nothing about the Prix d’Amerique race this Sunday at the Hippodrome Paris-Vincennes. It’s on nearly every major street pole intersection throughout this wonderful city. Big, bold and beautiful, a harness racing horse draped in the colors of the American flag. Every year the Prix d’Amerique is the richest race in the world for old trotters, only this year the prestigious event is even bigger as it is the 100th anniversary of this spectacular day of racing. The Grand Prix d’Amerique was created to pay homage to the Americans for the help which they gave to France during the First World War. And every year the French go all out in this special day as a tribute to America. The race card will have 11 races, most of them held in early on. Then it’s parade time with perhaps the greatest display of tribute to America taking place on the track. The drivers are brought in on Harley-Davidson antique motorcycles, stilt-walkers dressed in the Stars and Stripes, the prestigious French Lancers Brigade on horseback and much more will take place. And then there is the actual Prix d’Amerique race. There will be 18 of the world’s top older trotters and sadly no representation from North America this year. These horses will go from a standing start and race 2,700 meters (1.67 miles), up and down a slight hill on the course at breakneck speeds. And, they will be racing for total prize money of 900,000€ euros ($1 million dollars US depending on exchange rate). On the betting side, around $40 million euros ($44.3 million US) will be wagered on Sunday. There will be 40,000 plus people coming out to the racetrack to view the race and all the special festivities that day and approximately 36 countries will broadcast the race on four different continents. It’s a big deal to say the least. And what about the horses that have entered the race. The return winner from last year, Belina Josselyn, is back. She is one of only a handful of mares who will be taking on their male counterparts in the Prix d’Amerique. Jean-Michel Bazire trains and drives Belina Josselyn, who comes into the race off a very impressive triumph two weeks ago in the Grand Prix of Belgium at Paris-Vincennes. The nine-year-old mare by Love You is a career winner of 2,335,470€. Other world class champion trotters in the race include two-time Prix d’Amerique winner, Bold Eagle, who back in October 2019 traveled to Canada and won the Breeders Crown at Mohawk Park; 3.1 million euro winner Propulsion is shipping in from Sweden; 2018 Elitloppet winner Ringostarr Treb will be in the race for trainer Jerry Riordan, Face Time Bourbon, Beillie de Montford and a host of other top flight trotters will be in the race. Also, this week Harnesslink will be reporting from the world class training facility, Grosbois, plus coverage of the horse sale Thursday and Friday, the Standardbred Expo Friday and the superb race cards this Saturday and Sunday at the Hippodrome Paris-Vincennes. It’s been sunny and around 40 in Paris as we toured the wonderful city a bit after landing this morning. There is a possible forecast of rain showers on Sunday and it is hopeful that will change later this week. Our hotel, the Pullman in Bercy Centre, is sold out this weekend as are other hotels in the area as the hype begins to build for the big race day on Sunday. Here are the leading 25 horses for the Prix d'Amerique. This number will get reduced to 18, By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink

Eliot dAmbri

Groupe winners on Cornulier program

January 19, 2020 - Saturday’s Cornulier harness racing program at Vincennes included several other groupe level races and some other interesting events. The Prix Roxane Griff (monte, purse 50,000€, 2175 meters, nine starters) began the “interesting” action with a quick 1.11kr clocked victory by 9/10 favorite Egao Jenilou (6g Village Mystic-Queen Jenilou) with Eric Raffin aboard for trainer Louis Baudron. He won for the ninth time in 26 career starts now for 272,460€ earned. 7/2 Dede de Montauren and 9/1 Daniel Bon trailed the winner to the line. The first groupe test was the Prix Bellino II (Gr. III, purse 80,000€, 2100 meters, 11 starters) and 5.5/1 Gimy du Pommereux (4m Coktail Jet-Noune du Pommereux) scored for Matthieu Abrivard, trainer Sylvain Roger and owner Noel Lolic. The victory was his fourth in 12 career starts now for 132,810 in life earnings. 18/1 Gia Olmenhof (4f Ready Cash) rallied for second for Christophe Martens and 2/1 Girolamo (4m Uriel Speed) took third for Franck Ouvrie. Gimy du Pommereux The 80,000€ purse Prix de Mirande (Gr. III, 2700 meters, eight five year old starters) produced a 1.12kr timed victory for 3/2 odds Fire Cracker (5g Quaro-Urganza) for Eric Raffin at the lines for trainer Gregory Thorel. He scored for the eighth time in 24 appearances for career earnings of 191,200€. 1.1/1 favorite Fairplay d’Urzy (5m Ready Cash) and driver Jean Michel Bazire was second and 6/1 Foxtrot Sea (5m Olitro) was third for Cedrik Megissier. Fire Cracker The Gr. III Prix Michel Marcel Gougeon (purse 90,000€, 2850 meters, nine starters) saw 3.2/1 Eliot d’Ambri (6g Tipunch River-Rivale du Raleis) score for the hot teamster Eric Raffin. Race time was 1.14.9kr as the winner increased his career earnings to 196,380€. 2.8/1 Eclat de Gloire (6g Tiego d’Etang) was second for Loris Garcia and 10/1 Éclair du Mirel (6m Orlando Vici) and pilot Matthieu Abrivard took third money. Eliot d’Ambri Monte action resumed in the Prix Camille de Wazieres (Gr. II, purse 100,000€, 2175 meters, eight starters). 5.6/1 Gospel Pat (4m Uriel Speed-Namorosa) scored timed in 1.12.9kr for jockey David Thomain and trainer Philippe Allaire. This was his fifth career victory in 16 outings now for 174,050€ earned. 6.5/1 Gef de Play (4m Gazouillis) was second with Adrien Lamy in the irons for owner/trainer Franck Leblanc. 5.1/1 Gainsborough (4m Bird Parker) took third with Yoann Lebourgeois up. Gospel Pat   Thomas H. Hicks  

The 5/10 favorite Bilibili (9m Niky-Quetty du Donjon) stalked the leaders and wore them down in late stretch to win the Prix de Cornulier (Gr. I International Monte, purse 650,000€ 2700 meters, 16 starters) for jockey Alexandre Abrivard clocked in 1.12.1kr off even fractions. Laurent Claude Abrivard trains the winner for breeder/owner Jean Pierre Barjon as Bilibili repeated his 2019 victory and now has 14 career wins in 45 starts for 1,803,100€ earned. Roxane Grif was also a repeat winner in recent years (2015-16). The 17/1 Etoile e Bruyere (6f Kenor de Cosse) held second for Adrien Lamy and trainer Charles Dreux. Third was 14/1 Feeling Cash (5m Ready Cash-Royale Star) with Eric Raffin in the irons for trainer Philippe Allaire and owner Carlos Lerner. The 75/1 Carla du Castelets and 31/1 Evangelina Blue completed the top five. The exact order Quinte+ top five payoff was 9.905.60 to 174 ticketholders. The Q+ pool was 5,808.430€ and over 11,937,000€ was wagered on the race.  To watch the replay, click here. The time of the race in kilometers was 1'12''1, which did not break last year’s record of 1'11''2, but it was still the 4th best time in the history of the race. Alexandre Abrivard signs a third victory in the Grand Prix de Cornulier, twenty days after being crowned Etrier d'Or for the second time. His trainer Laurent-Claude Abrivard won for the second time with the developer costume (he also won it as a jockey). For owner-breeder Jean-Pierre Barjon, this is a new triumph in one of the two biggest winter races at Paris-Vincennes, he too who saw his colors shine in the Grand Prix d'Amérique with Meaulnes of Corta . The Grand Prix d'Amérique whose 2020 edition is also on the horizon for next week. This time, the father and son Abrivards will be gathered around Excellent , winner of the Ténor de Baune Prize and candidate for the first places. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink

Top groupe level action at Paris-Vincennes began this day with the Gr. II Prix de Pardieu (purse 100,000€, monte, 2175 meters, four year olds) and 14/1 Girly Beco (4f Tiego d’Etang-Verveine Gede) scored 1.12.7kr for jockey Guillaume Martin and trainer Michel Bezier. Herve Guain is the owner/breeder. The 26/1 Gloria Berry (4f Quaker Jet-Tequila Berry) was second with J.Y. Ricart in the irons for owner/trainer Jean Michel Bazire and 2.4/1 Gladys des Plaines (4f Opus Viervil) held third with Eric Raffin up. The co-feature this day was the Gr. III Prix de Brest (purse 90,000€, 2850 meters distance handicap, European) with the outstanding victory to 50 meter handicapped and 4/10 favorite Cleangame (8g Ouragon de Celland-Red Bell) reined by trainer Jean Michel Bazire for owner J-M Rancoule. Cleangame was clocked in a quick 1.11.2kr to record his 33rd victory in 50 career starts, now for 1,269,720€ earned. He stormed home from far back to engage the leaders early in the lane in a furious finish to then hold off 20/1 and 25 meter handicapped Anzi des Liards (10g Look de Star) with Romain Derieux up. The 32/1 Ble du Gers (9g Quinoa du Gers) held third for Nicolas Bazire, trainer Jean Michel and owner Rancoule. 61/1 Carly Loulou (8f Gazouillis) and 89.1 Usain Henna (10m Super Light) completed the top five this Quinte+ event. The exact order Q+ payoff was 24,212.60€ to 42 winning ticketholders with the Q+ pool reaching 4,283,257€ and over 9,239,000€ was wagered on the race. Cleangame The Prix de Pornichet (purse 67,000€, monte, 2700 meters) saw 8.4/1 Bleu Ciel (9g Milord Drill-Quelle Action) win for Adrien Lamy and trainer Jean Morice timed in 1.12.8kr. The winner earned his 15th career victory in 90 starts now for 378,110€ earned. 5,8/1 Boston Terrie (9g Kesaco Phedo) was second ahead of 6.4/1 Cesar de Vrie (8g Magnificent Rodney). Bleu Ciel Sunday the monte champions will contest the Gr. I Prix de Cornulier for a total purse of 650,000€ and we will see if the 2019 winner Bilibili can repeat. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink  

Hungary’s National Trotting Breeders' Association continues its training series, which was launched in 2018, on January 28, 2020 (10:30 am at Kincsem Park), when a world-recognized harness racing breeder and executive, Dr. Paul F. ’’Pete” Spears, will direct our further training. Dr. Spears is President of the Standardbred Horse Sales Company, that conducts an annual early November auction in Harrisburg, PA ((USA), and formerly Vice President of Hanover Shoe Farms, practically growing up there, as his father worked as President and Treasurer of that world renown breeding facility. Dr. Spears has been very active in trot racing and breeding for several decades (his family’s Windsong Stable bred Hambletonian winner Windsong’s Legacy among many stakes winners), and his main expertise is genetics, pedigree analysis and auctions. Standardbred Horse Sales Company In his lecture, Dr. Spears will present examples of the possibility of pairing on related breeding and line breeding issues. He gives his opinion on the x-position and talks about the correct decisions that affect the effectiveness of breeding. There's great interest in this event. In view of this, please indicate your intention to participate by e-mail (ugeto@ugeto.com) as soon as possible. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink

This Sunday Bilibili (9m Niky) faces 15 rivals in the harness racing monte classic Gr. I Grand Prix de Cornulier (purse 650,000€, 2850 meters) at Paris-Vincennes as he seeks to defend his 2019 victory. Traders. Fadu du Chene, Feeling Cash and the young mare Fleche Bourbon are in the field. Bilibili tuned up with a January 5th 1.13kr timed score in the Gr. II Prix du Calvados, a race he also won in 2018 and 2019. He won the Cornulier in 2019 clocked in 1.11.2kr, his best since a 1.10.5kr win in the 2017 Gr. I Prix I’Ile de France over the shorter 2175 meter distance. Jean Pierre Barjon bred and owns Bilibili that will have Alexandre Abrivard in the irons. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink  

The Grand Prix de Cornulier (monte, Gr.I International, 2700 meters, purse 650,000€) is set for Sunday and initially 29 horses were engaged in what is likely to be an 18 horse field. The well-regarded Bilibili, Fado du Chene and Traders are among the top prospects. Bilibili, trained by Laurent Claude Abrivard for breeder/owner Jean Pierre Barjon, is a nine year old son of Niky and has proven to be an accomplished monte performer as he won the 2019 version of the Cornulier, the richest monte event, and has lifetime earnings of 1,510,600€. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink

Today’s superb Belgique harness racing program also had other groupe level events on the stage. The Prix de Riberac (Gr. IiI, 70,000€ purse, 2700 meters, 15 starters) saw 5/1 Garibaldi (4m Love You-Venitienne) score in 1.13.4kr for Jean Phillipe Monclin and owner Manuel Martinez. The winner recorded his fourth career victory in 11 starts now for 126,780€ earned. The winner joined the hunt with slightly over 500 meters remaining and was a decisive factor in the lane. 17/1 Gelati Cut (4m Coktail Jet) was second for Alexandre Abrivard, ahead of 27/1 Galaxie du Goutier (4f Kaisy Dream) with Clement Duvaldestin aboard. The Prix Association Nationale des Turfistes (purse 67,000€, 2100 meters autostart) saw the turf writers on hand to make the winners presentation to 5.9/1 odds Belle Louise Mabon (9f Derby du Giute), the 1.11.9kr timed victorious trainee of breeder/owner/trainer Yves Dreaux. Eri Raffin was the pilot as Belle Louise won for the eighth time in 58 starts now for 358,980€ in life earnings. “Louise” was there to help receive the winners’ congratulations. The 7/10 favorite Charmeause Royale was second for owner/trainer/driver Matthieu Abrivard ahead of Black Jack From reined by Jean Michel Bazire. Belle Louise Mabon The Prix Djerid (monte Gr. III, purse 90,000€, 2200 meters, eight European starters) completed today’s groupe action and in this one the 1.12.1kr winner was the game 5.2/1 Daida de Vandel (7f Real de Lou - Gallia de Vandel) handled by jockey Alexandre Abrivard for trainer Laurent Claude Abrivard. It was her 10 th career victory in 42 starts and her raised lifetime earnings to 402,580€. Eroa du Chene (6m Un Amour d’Haufor) was second with P.Ph. Ploquin in the irons for trainer Julien La Mer and owner Claude Guedj. 1.9/1 favorite Curly (8g Rolling d’Heripre) took third for jockey Matthieu Abrivard and trainer Thierry Duvaldestin. Daida de Vandel With the day complete some analysts foresee an Amerique lineup that might look something like shown below. Here the bold print horses are those already qualified. Those with a question mark are just that, unknowns at this moment. Several of the outsiders are lifetime winners of over a million euro. It appears that the Cornulier (January 19) is not factored in below.   Thomas H. Hicks

Belina Josselyn (9f Love You-Lezira Josselyn) took today’s Prix de Belgique (Gr. II International, purse 110,000€, 2850 meters, 15 starters) reined by her trainer Jean Michel Bazire for owner/breeder Yvan Bernard. Belina, the 2019 Prix d’Amerique winner, won for the 22nd time in 71 career starts now for 2,335,470€ earned. She emerged from second tier positioning with over 500 meters remaining and covered her last 500 in 1.10kr. She was off at 2.5/1 odds and bested 2.8/1 Enino du Pommereux (6m Coktail Jet) with Matthieu Abrivard up for trainer Sylvain Roger and owner Noel Lolic that was clocked also in 1.12.6kr. The 62/1 Davidson du Pont (7m Pacha du Pont) was third with Franck Ouvrie up for trainer JMB and owner/breeder Albert Rayon. 23/1 Erming d’Oliverie (6f Scipion du Goutier) was fourth for pilot Adrian Lamy and trainer Franck Leblanc. The next three to the line were 35/1 Delia du Pommeruex (7f Niky), 62/1 Looking Superb (7m Orlando Vici), also a JMP trainee, and 6/1 Uza Josselyn (9f Love You) that rallied after being shuffled almost to the end, She was clocked in 1.12.9kr that illustrates the competitiveness of this field. To see the race replay, click here. Belina Josselyn and Enino du Pommereux join the 10 horses previously qualified in the six qualifying races leading to the Prix d'Amerique that began in 1920 and has been raced in each year thereafter except two years during WWII when Vincennes was used as a military camp. The Prix d'Amerique (created to honor America’s efforts to save France in World War I) to be held January 26 will have 18 starters with invites to follow the 12 now qualified. One could be the January 19 Prix du Cornulier winner, this the Gr. I 650,000€ purse monte classic. Today’s Prix de Belgique was the Q+ race of the day with a special 1,000,000€ tireline (bonus). The exact order payoff was 105,369.20€ paid to 20 winning ticketholders. The Q+ pool was 5,896,091€ and over 11,669,000€ was wagered on the race (all wagers). Havana d’Aurcy takes Prix Gelinotte Wedge Institiute Groupe action began this day with the Gr. II Prix Gelinotte Wedge Institute (purse 100,000€, 2700 meters, three-year olds) and the 9/10 favorite Havana d’Aurcy (3f Royal Dream-Avila) prevailed handily for trainer/driver Jean Michel Bazire and owner Cyril Lelarge. Havana scored for the fourth time in eight career starts now for131,700€ earned. Race time was 1.16.2kr. The 44/1 Hora Beji (3f Ni Ho Ped d’Ombree) was second for Franck Nivard and 4.4/1 Heroine Darling (3f Brillantissime-Rapid Darling) rallied nicely to be third for pilot Matthieu Abrivard, trainer Kevin Vanderschelden and owner Jean Pierre Dubois. Of note, yesterday in the US the Dubois champion mare Crys Dream foaled a Tactical Landing filly. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink

Today at Bergsaker, Sweden was the Zoogins STL Gold, raced over 2140 meters autostart, for a purse to the winner of 150,000SEK. Elian Web (9g Like A Prayer-EL Dolly-Conway Hall), off at 4.14/1, scored easily on the front end timed in 1.12.4kr, with Jorma Kontio at the lines. Melkko Katja trains this now winner 23 times in 59 starts for 6,275,867SEK earned. The 1.28/1 favorite Propulsion (9m Muscle Hill-Danae), handled by Orjan Kihlstrom for trainer Daniel Reden, was second in what was to be a prep for the Prix d’Amerique. He was clocked in 1.12.6kr after briefly challenging the leader on the final lap. He fell back, dropped to the pocket and trailed the winner home in the lane. 80/1 Narold Vox (11g Orlando Vici) was third for Mats Djuse. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink

Helgafell (3m Charly du Noyer-Baaria) began groupe action this day by winning the Gr. II Prix Maurice de Gheest (purse 100,000€, 2700 meters, 10 three year old starters) at Paris-Vincennes. Eric Raffin teamed the 5/10 favorite for trainer Phillipe Allaire and Ecurie Normandy Spirit. He won for the sixth time in seven career starts now for 182,900€ earned. Marial Turbiaux bred this winner that scored in 1.16.1kr. 4.8/1 Heaven’s Pride (3m Brillantissime-Queenly Pride) took second for pilot David Thomain and trainer Allaire, followed by 10/1 Holzarte Vedaquais (3m Brillantissime-Chikka Vedaquaise) that Francois Lagadeuc drove for trainer/owner Allaire. Heartbreaker One was fourth for Bjorn Goop. The Quinte+ Gr II Prix de Croix (purse 100,000€, 2850 meters, 13 European starters) brought out some top five-year olds in that class and victory was earned by 9/1 Feliciano (5m Ready Cash-Ravenella). David Thomain was the pilot for trainer Philippe Allaire and owner Ecurie des Charmes. The 1.13.4kr timed winner scored for the 10th time in 30 career starts now for 474,340€ earned.  The 29/1 Falco de Laurma (5m Uniclove-Rangoon) took second with Franck Nivard up for trainer Thierry Duvaldestin with third to 5.6/1 Fleche du Yucca (5f Prodigious-Vincenza) handled by Jean Philippe Dubois for his Ecurie Victoria Dreams and trainer Philippe Moulin. 90/1 Florida Sport (5f Tornado Bello) and 22/1 Fashion Queen (5f Ready Cash) completed the top five. The exact order Q+ payoff was 20,833€ paid to 31 winning ticketholders. The Q+ pool was 4,414,116€ and over 9.304,000€ was wagered on the race (all wagering pools). The Gr. III Prix du Forez (purse 80,000€, 2700 meters, 10 European starters) is an opportiunity to impress and perhaps gain an Amerique berth, no guarantees however. J-M Bazire send out a flock of starters and he won driving his 6.7/1 trainee Valokaja Hindo (9m Great Challenger-Hindo Enghave) to the 1.11.9kr victory. Hindo, owned in Norway by Eirik Djuve, won for 11th time in 25 appearances in France to raise his life earnings to 582,920€. He stormed home from the backfield to score over five rivals also timed in 1.11.9kr. 5.5/1 Dorgoss de Guez (7g Romcok de Guez-Lady Fromentro) was second for Nicolas Bazire and trainer JMB, ahead of 5/1 Tessy d’Ete (8f Ganymede-Love Me Tender) reined by Franck Nivard. 118/1 Alamo du Goutier was fourth for owner/trainer/driver Vincent Hebert and fifth was 9/2 pacesetter Mindyourvalue WF (7g Hovding Lavec) for Yoann Lebourgeois. Dreambreaker and Chica de Joudes completed the top seven with nine horses clocked in 1.12.1kr or better. Hindo’s pedigree is 100% standardbred and the sire Great Challenger was a US$160,000 yearling. His dam was registered in Denmark and is by Victor Victor from a Buckfinder mare. Late in the card in the Prix de Bois-Guillaume (purse 33,000€, 2100 meters autostart) the great veteran horseman Pierre Levesque was in the winner’s circle after teaming 8.5/1 Furyo (5g Quaker Jet-Laliflo Gede) to a 1.13.2kr victory. He owns and bred this now four-time winner that Thomas Levesque conditions. Levesque drives sparingly now but what a career he has enjoyed as driver and trainer. As driver he won the Prix d’Amerique in 2007-2008 with trainee Offshore Dream and with trainee Meaulnes du Corta he won the 2010 Prix de France, 2009-2010 Grand Criterium de Vitesse with Meaulnes and the 2006 Criterium Continental with that horse. As trainer he also won the Prix d’Amerique with Mealunes plus the 2009 Prix de France, the 2005 Criterium 5 Ans and the 2004 Prix de Selection. Meaulnes du Corta retired with 2,786,760€ earned and Offshore Dream won 1,992,024€. With the victory today Pierre Levesque has 2,317 driving wins in 15,283 starts (and 1,511 wins as trainer). He has won over 100 races in five seasons. by Thomas H. HIcks, for Harnesslink

Jean Michel Bazire teamed his trainee Feydeau Seven (5m Redeo Josselyn-Unanime Seven) to a 1.13.9kr victory in today’s Quinte+ Prix de Mauriac (purse 53,000€, 2850 meters, 16 starters) at Paris-Vincennes, his ninth career in 18 starts now for 175,010€ earned. He was off as the 1.9/1 favorite. 33/1 Fiorentina Somolli (5f Love You) was second for Matthieu Abrivard and 31/1 Flaya Kalouma (5f Royal Dream) took third for Gabriel Angel Pou Pou. The 28/1 Flight Dynamic (5m Scarlet Knight) was fourth for Franck Ouvrie ahead of 90/1 Borups Senator (5m SJs Caviar) with Pierre Vercruysse up. The outsiders set up an exact order Q+ payoff of 165,693€ paid to four ticketholders. The Q+ pool this day was 3,395,049€ and the total of all wagering pools on this race exceeded 7,578,000€. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink

Sunday at Paris-Vincennes is the fourth “B”  race leading to the 900,000€ Prix d’Amerique 2020, it’s the Gr. II Grand Prix de Belgique for 110,000€ purse and raced over 2850 meters. The harness racing field includes the 2019 Elitloppet winner Dijon, 2019 Prix d'Amerique winner Belina Josselyn and a few that have already qualified – Looking Superb, Delia du Pommereux and Davidson du Pont. Others that need a good showing are Enino du Pommereux, Carat Williams and Uza Josselyn, the latter coming in off two fourth place finishes in the last two “B” races. Qualifiers (10) to date for the 2020 Grand Prix d’Amerique include: GP Bretagne – Davidson du Pont, Chica de Joudes, Looking Superb GP Bourbonnais – Delia de Pommereux, Bold Eagle, Billie de Montfort GP Bourgogne – Billie de Montfort (previously qualified), Bahia Quesnot, Vivid Wise As Criterium Continental – Face Time Bourbon Prix Tenor de Baune – Excellent Amerique 2020 Promo https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&v=3xXBtbY56Ko&feature=emb_logo We’re heading to a highly competitive Prix d'Amerique the last Sunday this month. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink  

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Grosbois, France – Growing up in New Jersey in the USA and getting into the harness racing industry, I was around when they broke ground and built exquisite training facilities at Showplace and Gaitway Farms. But they are not that exquisite when compared to Grosbois, just outside of Paris, France. In fact, there may not be another harness racing training facility in world that could be compared to Grosbois. Upon entering the grounds, the entrance way features wrought-iron 20-foot gates attached to 12-foot walls that encompass the entire facility, which is just over 1,000 acres in size. In the far distance you can see a huge Manor House and green grass and dirt roads, also paths that lead to wooded areas with harness racing trotters galore jogging about. We were greeted at the horsemen’s entrance by Damien Beau, who is with the International Department of LeTROT, that oversees all of trotting in France. He was our guide for the private tour. We first went to the home of renowned Swedish and French trainer Anders Lindqvst, who was so kind to show us his home, his office, and his attached courtyard with maybe 40 stalls filled with trotters. There are no pacers in Europe except for Ireland and England. Linqvist first became interested in harness racing at the age of 14. “I wanted to be a professional soccer player,” Linqvist said. “But someone took me on a jog with a horse and I really liked that. My father wanted me in the family business,” Lindqvist added. “but after I worked with the horses a little, I trained a fast mile and that feeling convinced me to go into harness racing. “My first good horse I got I was age 22,” Lindqvist recalled. “And it was at that point that I said goodbye to working for my father part-time and took up harness racing full time. This horse, which gave me many wins, was at the time, sadly named Mr. Nixon. But despite his name he was my foundation horse. Mr. Nixon raced for me 431 times. That is the all-time record still in Sweden. “Then I was once racing in the Elitloppet in 1985,” Lindqvist said. “And after the race with Viroid (finished 5th) I was contacted by Mr. Lew Barash in the USA, asking me to come and race in the International Trot at Roosevelt Raceway and then I was hooked on international racing. “From there I was on my own for ten years,” Lindqvist explained. Until the great trainer/driver Jean-Pierre Dubois asked me to work for him in France. It was like being invited to be part of the Dream Team in basketball and I have been here ever since.” Lindqvist has driven in 19 countries, even twice in Russia. “When I won my first race in Russia,” Lindqvist said. “I got towards the winner’s enclosure, they stopped me and said they had to take my whip away. This was some security people and I did not understand why. Then I saw that the trophy was going to be presented to me by President Valdimir Putin and realized security would not let anyone get near him with a whip. That was something very special in my life.” Anders home has four bedrooms in addition to the attached 40 horse stalls and he said he pays around $8,000 per month rent for everything. That might seem a lot, but he also rents his spare bedrooms and most of his stalls to other trainers for their horses. He said it is like that throughout Grosbois, although some of the beautiful homes and barn areas are leased by horse owners, who turn around and rent or trade rooms/stalls for trainers and grooms to take care of their horses. Lindqvist also has a coffee vending machine in his office. Why one might ask and Anders jokingly said because during the winter season he has so many visitors he gives away around 4,000 cups of coffee. There are over five miles of just jogging tracks at Grosbois. It also has two tracks that horses can fast work on, a five-eighths mile track and a 15th/16th mile track, where horses can qualify to race at nearby Vincennes Racetrack. They also have an equine hospital on the grounds that is used by some 15 veterinarians. That many vets are needed for the 1,500 racehorses that call Grosbois home throughout the winter season. There are also numerous blacksmith shops on the grounds. At Grosbois, there are about 60 people that work in track maintenance to keep the large grounds clean and the track surfaces in prime shape. They use three different materials that are used on the jogging tracks and horseman use certain courses depending if they want a deep cushion, harder or softer surfaces for the horse’s hooves. You will also see many trotters being ridden at Grosbois as in France they have many trotting races under saddle. This past weekend the richest monte race (monte means under saddle) in the world took place at the Vincennes track with 15 horses racing for a purse of 650,000 euros. There is also a very nice horseman’s cafeteria and a party room on the grounds, tennis courts and soccer fields. The jogging trails also cut through the massive wooded area of Grosbois where people jogging horses have come across wild boar, reindeer, foxes and many birds of prey. The entire area was purchased and developed into the training facility in 1962 and continues to grow. It is 11 miles from the outskirts of Paris and only six miles away from the Vincennes Racetrack. And what if the weather is raining but you still need to work your horse. Then you just head over to the covered training track or perhaps lunge-line your horse at the indoor arena. It’s all at Grosbois. Coming up on Thursday, it’s back to Grosbois we go, this time to visit the special Manor House that is home to the French Trotting Museum and more. by Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink
Tuesday’s Paris-Vincennes featured Prix de Pont-Audemar (purse 53,000€, 2100 meters autostart) saw 1.2/1 Golden Renka (4m Saxo de Vandel-Saskia des Emois) rally to a harnes racing victory for pilot Jean Michel Bazire, Ecurie Ostheimer and trainer J-M Baudouin.   The winner was clocked in 1.12.6kr as he won for the fourth time in 16 career starts, now for 108,190€ earned. 4.9/1 Gwendolo Bella (4m Booster Winner) was second for owner/trainer/driver Christophe Feyte and 5.4/1 Genet de Boitron (4g Ubriaco) took third with owner/trainer Franck Anne aboard.   Racing action returned on the weekend (January 19) at Madinina Martinique with the Prix de la Societe des Courses de Madinina (purse 5,000€, 2600 meters on the turf, distance handicap) and victory went to Beautiful Atout (9g Roc Meslois-Saga d’Atour) with owner/trainer Alexandre Faivre aboard. The winner recorded his first win in Martinique and first career victory now for 62,280€ earned. Bavarois Varlet and Boycott trained the winner, these two handicapped 50 and 25 meters.   Beautiful Atout On the Madinina card was also the Prix Claude Cayol (purse 5,000€, 2600 meters distance handicap on the turf) saw 25 meter handicapped Ussein Royal (12g Lilium Madrik-Heloire) score in 1.20.3kr for J.F. Gate, his third win in the last four starts and 13 th in his career, now for 83,160€ in life earnings. 25 meter penalized Unoki and non-penalized Avais Contraire trailed the winner to the line in a driving finish.   Thomas H. Hicks
Paris, France – Not a lot of people can really say in Paris that they know nothing about the Prix d’Amerique race this Sunday at the Hippodrome Paris-Vincennes. It’s on nearly every major street pole intersection throughout this wonderful city. Big, bold and beautiful, a harness racing horse draped in the colors of the American flag. Every year the Prix d’Amerique is the richest race in the world for old trotters, only this year the prestigious event is even bigger as it is the 100th anniversary of this spectacular day of racing. The Grand Prix d’Amerique was created to pay homage to the Americans for the help which they gave to France during the First World War. And every year the French go all out in this special day as a tribute to America. The race card will have 11 races, most of them held in early on. Then it’s parade time with perhaps the greatest display of tribute to America taking place on the track. The drivers are brought in on Harley-Davidson antique motorcycles, stilt-walkers dressed in the Stars and Stripes, the prestigious French Lancers Brigade on horseback and much more will take place. And then there is the actual Prix d’Amerique race. There will be 18 of the world’s top older trotters and sadly no representation from North America this year. These horses will go from a standing start and race 2,700 meters (1.67 miles), up and down a slight hill on the course at breakneck speeds. And, they will be racing for total prize money of 900,000€ euros ($1 million dollars US depending on exchange rate). On the betting side, around $40 million euros ($44.3 million US) will be wagered on Sunday. There will be 40,000 plus people coming out to the racetrack to view the race and all the special festivities that day and approximately 36 countries will broadcast the race on four different continents. It’s a big deal to say the least. And what about the horses that have entered the race. The return winner from last year, Belina Josselyn, is back. She is one of only a handful of mares who will be taking on their male counterparts in the Prix d’Amerique. Jean-Michel Bazire trains and drives Belina Josselyn, who comes into the race off a very impressive triumph two weeks ago in the Grand Prix of Belgium at Paris-Vincennes. The nine-year-old mare by Love You is a career winner of 2,335,470€. Other world class champion trotters in the race include two-time Prix d’Amerique winner, Bold Eagle, who back in October 2019 traveled to Canada and won the Breeders Crown at Mohawk Park; 3.1 million euro winner Propulsion is shipping in from Sweden; 2018 Elitloppet winner Ringostarr Treb will be in the race for trainer Jerry Riordan, Face Time Bourbon, Beillie de Montford and a host of other top flight trotters will be in the race. Also, this week Harnesslink will be reporting from the world class training facility, Grosbois, plus coverage of the horse sale Thursday and Friday, the Standardbred Expo Friday and the superb race cards this Saturday and Sunday at the Hippodrome Paris-Vincennes. It’s been sunny and around 40 in Paris as we toured the wonderful city a bit after landing this morning. There is a possible forecast of rain showers on Sunday and it is hopeful that will change later this week. Our hotel, the Pullman in Bercy Centre, is sold out this weekend as are other hotels in the area as the hype begins to build for the big race day on Sunday. Here are the leading 25 horses for the Prix d'Amerique. This number will get reduced to 18, By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink
January 19, 2020 - Saturday’s Cornulier harness racing program at Vincennes included several other groupe level races and some other interesting events. The Prix Roxane Griff (monte, purse 50,000€, 2175 meters, nine starters) began the “interesting” action with a quick 1.11kr clocked victory by 9/10 favorite Egao Jenilou (6g Village Mystic-Queen Jenilou) with Eric Raffin aboard for trainer Louis Baudron. He won for the ninth time in 26 career starts now for 272,460€ earned. 7/2 Dede de Montauren and 9/1 Daniel Bon trailed the winner to the line. The first groupe test was the Prix Bellino II (Gr. III, purse 80,000€, 2100 meters, 11 starters) and 5.5/1 Gimy du Pommereux (4m Coktail Jet-Noune du Pommereux) scored for Matthieu Abrivard, trainer Sylvain Roger and owner Noel Lolic. The victory was his fourth in 12 career starts now for 132,810 in life earnings. 18/1 Gia Olmenhof (4f Ready Cash) rallied for second for Christophe Martens and 2/1 Girolamo (4m Uriel Speed) took third for Franck Ouvrie. Gimy du Pommereux The 80,000€ purse Prix de Mirande (Gr. III, 2700 meters, eight five year old starters) produced a 1.12kr timed victory for 3/2 odds Fire Cracker (5g Quaro-Urganza) for Eric Raffin at the lines for trainer Gregory Thorel. He scored for the eighth time in 24 appearances for career earnings of 191,200€. 1.1/1 favorite Fairplay d’Urzy (5m Ready Cash) and driver Jean Michel Bazire was second and 6/1 Foxtrot Sea (5m Olitro) was third for Cedrik Megissier. Fire Cracker The Gr. III Prix Michel Marcel Gougeon (purse 90,000€, 2850 meters, nine starters) saw 3.2/1 Eliot d’Ambri (6g Tipunch River-Rivale du Raleis) score for the hot teamster Eric Raffin. Race time was 1.14.9kr as the winner increased his career earnings to 196,380€. 2.8/1 Eclat de Gloire (6g Tiego d’Etang) was second for Loris Garcia and 10/1 Éclair du Mirel (6m Orlando Vici) and pilot Matthieu Abrivard took third money. Eliot d’Ambri Monte action resumed in the Prix Camille de Wazieres (Gr. II, purse 100,000€, 2175 meters, eight starters). 5.6/1 Gospel Pat (4m Uriel Speed-Namorosa) scored timed in 1.12.9kr for jockey David Thomain and trainer Philippe Allaire. This was his fifth career victory in 16 outings now for 174,050€ earned. 6.5/1 Gef de Play (4m Gazouillis) was second with Adrien Lamy in the irons for owner/trainer Franck Leblanc. 5.1/1 Gainsborough (4m Bird Parker) took third with Yoann Lebourgeois up. Gospel Pat   Thomas H. Hicks  

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