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Weekend Group One Action at Vincennes & Longchamp

11 September 2020

For enthusiasts of horse-racing, France is the only country that can boast elite level racing across all three codes – flat thoroughbred and jump along with trotting. This weekend boasts Group One racing across both Flat and Trotting.   

Saturday’s highlight will be at Vincennes with the running of the G1 Prix de l’Etoile (2200m). This is a unique event where the three-year-olds go up against their four-and-five-year older rivals but receive a 50m handicap advantage (2150m). In recent years, the younger horses have dominated the race in both numbers and victories. This year, a field of eight has been declared and the age difference is evenly divided – four three-year-olds and four older horses. Despite having to concede 50m, current French superstar Face Time Bourbon has another opportunity to win a further Group One race and cement his current dominance having won his past four races – all at Group One level.    

On Sunday, the traditional ‘trial day’ three weeks ahead of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe weekend of racing will take place at Paris-Longchamp.  

One significant race programming change has occurred with the G1 Grand Prix de Paris (2400m) for 2020 having to be moved from Bastille Day on 14 July to this meeting and in so doing replaces the G2 Prix Niel (2400m).   

The Jean-Claude Rouget trained Port Guillaume continues to progress with every race start.  Following his victory in the G2 Prix Hocquart (2500m) at Deauville in August, he was subsequently part-sold with the intent to campaign him in Australia. Port Guillaume has received an entry for both the G1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) in mid-October and G1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) to be held on the first Tuesday in November. However, should he win the G1 Grand Prix de Paris impressively he may remain in France and contest the ‘Arc’ on 4 October.   

Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien has two horses - G1 Epsom Derby (2400m) (UK) winner Serpentine along with the progressive Mogul.    

Other nominations include the lightly raced Francois-Henri Graffard trained G1 German Derby (2400m) winner In Swoop and Fabrice Chappet G2 Prix Geffulhe (2200m) winner In Gold, not seen since finishing mid-field in the G1 Prix du Jockey Club (2100m) in July at Chantilly.          

The other Group One race on the card is the Prix Vermeille (2400m) for fillies and mares. Raabihah has won three of her four race starts including an impressive 3½L victory last start in the G2 Prix de Psyché (2000m) at Deauville three weeks ago. Progressive three-year-old filly Wonderful Tonight is proven over the journey having won last start at Deauville the G3 Prix Minerve (2500m) and in the process defeated another rival also confirmed over the trip, the Aga Khan owned Valia. She won a Listed race over 2400m at Longchamp in July.   

International representation includes nominations from both the United Kingdom and Ireland.    

The card is complemented with other trial races including the G2 Prix Foy (2400m), the race for older horses aiming to take their place in the G1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. As usual, there will be only a small number of runners contesting the event, but it will be a fascinating tactical affair with no designated pacemaker engaged. Quality horses are engaged. This includes the 2019 G1 Epsom Derby (2400m) (UK) winner in Anthony Van Dyke, proven long-distance performer and multiple Group One winner Stradivarius and current French mid and long distance star Way to Paris , winner of the G1 Grand Prix de St Cloud (2400m) at the end of June and in the process landing his first Group One. Skyward is an improving four-year-old who could be the surprise following from his Deauville G3 Prix de Reux (2500m) success last month.   

Group Three races include the Prix du Pin (1400m) as a lead-up to the G1 Prix de la Forêt (1400m) and Prix du Petit Couvert (1000m) up the centre course straight in preparation for the Prix de l’Abbaye (1000m). Arab bred runners will contest the G1 Prix Dragon (2000m) ahead of the G1 Arabian World Cup (2000m).  

Picture: © APHR Raabihah winning the Prix de la Seine