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The European Championship Meeting At Vincennes

18 October 2020

Friday evening at Vincennes saw the running of the three Group One European generational races for three, four and five-year-olds.    

The four-year-old contest – the G1 Grand Prix de l’UET is considered by many to be the race of the entire season for up and coming superstars. It is believed that this race will identify and produce the next European Champion.    

In one of the most dramatic finishes to a Group One race ever seen at Vincennes, five horses flashed across the line with less than one length separating them. The drama leading to this outcome unfolded during the final 150m and set the race up for the finish that ultimately occurred.    

On paper, this appeared to be a race in two – the best from France Gu d'Héripré and the Scandinavian Ecurie D. After leading for the majority of the race Ecurie D seemed to have the race won when Gu d'Héripré broke stride in the home straight. Ecurie D then also galloped in the final 50m. This set the race up for those horses running home strongly at the end of the autostart 2100m.      

It was Swedish horse, Power who arrived on time at the line to beat French horse Green Grass by the barest possible margin with another two Swedish horses finishing third and fourth – Guzz Mearas and Aetos Kronos. The first four all recorded 1’11”2. The final 1000m best time was recorded by Aetos Kronos recording a very quick 1’08”7 (and keep in mind, on the inner-track).    

For trainer/driver Robert Bergh this was his biggest success as a driver in France. Following the race, he was ecstatic about the performance of Power  

I am happy he could eventually show his real level. He had a perfect trip. It is always special to win a great race here in Vincennes. Power will come back this winter, for sure for the Criterium Continental. He is a great horse who deserves this title’.    

Considered to be one of the best four-year-olds in Sweden, Power won the Swedish three-year-old Championship G1 Svenskt Trav-Kriterium (September 2019). This season however he has had to face two strong adversaries in Ecurie D and Aetos Kronos.    

For the runner-up, Green Grass, this is the second time she has been denied Group One success by a nose. Her owner Sebastien Dewulf said:   

We run for fourth place. I cannot believe we are a close second. She was the only filly in the race but when she has her shoes off, she is not the same. Last time, she had heavy shoes on. It changes everything. There is just a nose on the photo, but we know with a longer trip, this horse runs on very strongly from behind…It was a perfect timing.’   

The Three-Year-Old Championship contest saw French horse Helgafell confirm his status as the best in Europe. This was his first start since winning the G1 Prix Albert Viel in June.    

Following the race, trainer Phillippe Allaire said:   

‘After a four-month break, he has run a great race, and above all when you know it was his first autostart race. Eric Raffin his driver just told me it was just a public training.’   

The immediate plan for Helgafell is two Group Two races followed by the Critérium des 3 Ans in December.    

Another French horse was successful in the Five-Year-Old Championship when Féerie Wood, driven by Alexandre Abrivard, made it a family affair for the Abrivard family who bought the mare at the sales. Originally destined to run at Angers last Wednesday (in the G3) she failed to make the final field so was rerouted to this race collecting a Group One prize along the way.    

Alexandre stated:   

‘this victory is definitely in my Top 5. During the last six months, she starts to challenge the best horses of her generation and improves her level. She is a horse I bought with my father and she is the very first and only horse I am the owner. That is a great honour…I can’t believe what happened – she was eliminated from a race…because she didn’t have enough money and now, she’s a Group One winner!   

Picture: © APHR