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This Weekend

28 November 2020

After next Thursday’s final meeting of the year at Auteuil (3 December) attention will turn to the south of France where Pau will conduct their annual three month Festival. Jumping action will also be found at Cagnes-sur-Mer for one month (eleven meetings with 78 races) prior to six weeks of flat racing on both the turf and all-weather from mid-January.   

With the way 2020 has evolved, the two feature Group One contests would normally have been run at Auteuil during Festival Weekend at the start of November. Both races are steeped in history. The Grand Prix de Automne is a five-year old and above hurdle run over 4800m. The race can be dated back to 1929 but has faced distance and condition changes over the years.  

The Prix La Haye Jousselin Steeplechase is also for the five-year-olds and above over the 5500m. It is the autumn equivalent to the Grand Steeplechase de Paris which is normally run in May however this year the event was held in October.  

The Prix La Haye Jousselin is steeped in history with the inaugural running in 1880 and is named after Edmond de La Haye Jousselin, a prominent steward and administrator who can be credited to being a contributor to the design of Auteuil and oversaw the construction of the fences.   

Our complementing article and tribute to Al Capone II highlights his extraordinary success in this race having won seven successive years from 1993-1999. The last horse to complete the Grand Steeplechase de Paris – Prix de La Haye Jousselin double was Remember Rose in 2009.   

On Sunday, Auteuil will pay tribute to Al Capone II where a commemorative video will be shown on-course (and social media). In addition, France Galop has decided to honor the champion by adding his name to the race he dominated – the Prix de la Haye Jousselin. Already recognised for his unprecedented record, his statue is a feature of the Auteuil paddock. Since his retirement, twenty years ago, he has resided at the Chantilly training center. He passed away on 21 October of this year at the incredible age of thirty-two years.   

This year two mares could hold the key in the hurdle – L’Autonomie (trained by Francois Nicolle) and Paul’s Saga (David Cottin prepares) and the Domonic Bressou trained Galop Marin winner of the past two running’s of this race along with a placing in 2017. The eight-year-old remains in good form and has won in excess of one million euros.    

For the steeplechase, a field of ten will face the starter with Docteur de Ballon seeking to complete the Grand Steeplechase-de-Paris-Prix de la Haye Jousselin same season double. He won’t have it all his own way with challenges including Figeuro, one of three runners for trainer Francois Nicolle (the other two Lou Buck’s and Blasimon), the Guillaume Macaire prepared Feu Follet and the only mare in the race, Roxinela.   

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